Querying for an agent, AKA Searching for my Sherpa

The time has come. Almost one year after finishing my first draft, The Lighthouse is finally ready to send out into the world. My manuscript has been beta read, edited, revised, critiqued, assessed and rewritten so much that I literally don’t know what else I can do with it. Once a monstrous tome at 190,000 words, it comfortably now sits at 96,000 – its optimum length, I believe.

The upside of spending so much time perfecting it is that I can go forward with no regrets. Whatever happens – no matter how many copies it sells, whether I land an agent or not – I’ll never look back and wish I’d done anything different. I’ve never worked as hard on anything in my life and if it’s meant to be then it’s meant to be - if not then I’ll dust off and try again and take everything I’ve learned from this experience and try to make the next book better. That’s the benefit of giving something your all. Even here, standing at the precipice of this next phase and not knowing what the result will ultimately be, I have a sense of calm. It’s the reward for chasing the seed of an idea and seeing it through to completion, the reward for knowing that I’ve pushed myself to the limit and knowing there’s nothing else I could’ve done. What happens from here is largely out of my control – it’s a curious mix of timing and luck and having a product that someone sees potential in – but that part of my brain that was restless while writing this book can now be at ease, for I’ve done what I set out to do.

So, what happens now?

Time for the query trenches.

In order to get a book published, writers in possession of a polished manuscript must first knock on the doors of literary agents and hope to find one who will take it to a publisher. Of course, landing an agent doesn’t guarantee you’ll ever see your book on the shelves – it’s just a ticket to the next stage of the process, and from there it’s up to the agent to convince a publisher that they’ve got a novel that’s worthy of people’s time – a story that people would want to read.

It’s such a long and challenging journey that sometimes it feels like I’m trying to scale Mount Everest

Actually, indulge me in this metaphor… Lukla is a small town in the mountains of Nepal - it is the place where climbers from all over the world congregate before attempting to scale the world’s highest peak. Completing a pitch-ready manuscript might buy me a ticket to Lukla, but before I can attempt the climb I need to find an agent – a Sherpa – someone who knows the way to the summit. The problem is that I’m not alone – surrounding me are thousands of other authors, all of them trying to peddle the books that they’ve slaved away on for years, all hoping to make their dreams come true, all vying to plant their flags atop that sought-after snow-tipped peak. I honestly do believe that somewhere out there is an agent who would love The Lighthouse, and I have every faith there’s an audience for it, but now it’s time to knock on doors and send out queries and find my Sherpa, the person who can see potential in what I’ve done, enough potential to take me on and make the ascent together.

Till next time everyone… there’s work to be done.

The mountain awaits.