When I first came across the story of the Affair of the Diamond Necklace–I can’t recall when that was–and decided to write a novel about it–that was some five years ago, now–I knew it had fantastic potential. With that belief, and some humble faith in my writing ability, I started writing. I chose to focus on Nicole d’Oliva, a minor character who nonetheless had a compelling story to tell. I even decided to write it in first person.
After years of writing, rewriting, and editing, I produced a novel of 93,000 words and several hundred thousand words of discarded text. This is the brief story of my efforts, so far, to get an agent to represent Grove of Venus.
First, I queried an agent who I knew was interested in historical fiction. She seemed like a wonderful prospect, and I has very high hopes. I was thrilled to hear back from her shortly after sending my query. She requested the full manuscript, and I was more than pleased to send it on to her. Because I know well that the publishing industry works very slowly, I allowed several months before sending a polite little request for an update. She replied that no news was good news and that she hadn’t gotten around to reading my full manuscript yet. I waited another several months and sent another email asking for news. By this time, it had been something like six months since the first query. Unfortunately, the reply was a no–she didn’t feel strongly enough about the manuscript to represent it. The good news is that she said the writing was strong.
I’d begun with this one agent and since she was considering my full manuscript, I didn’t query any other agents until after she rejected it. This means that just a few weeks ago I began querying in earnest. I started with six and got another request for a full. Again, I was hopeful, and sent off the full. This agent was much faster in getting back to me, but unfortunately it was another rejection. He gave me some reasons, all of which were relatively encouraging. He had another client working on a similar project and he, also, wasn’t passionate about the book.
I’m not sure whether to say it’s a good thing that I received two full requests, and that the proportion of full requests to queries is high, or whether to say it’s a bad thing that both full requests resulted in rejection. Does this mean my pitch is flashy but the manuscript doesn’t live up to it? Or does it mean I’m very close to finding an agent who’s hooked by the query AND by the manuscript?
Time will tell. I only hope to get this book out there for everyone to read!