How much work is it?

I was contacted yesterday by someone who had been referred to this blog who asked how many times do you have to query before you’ll land an agent? How hard is it?

I was interested to see a number of comments on’s Writer Cooler that suggest the average number of queries before someone lands an agent is now well over my 150 and often twice that many. Or more.

How hard is it?

Harder than anything I’ve ever done, and I was in labour for over thirty hours without an anaesthetic. I’ve done a PhD in law; won a writing award for my LLM thesis, written tons of op-eds, articles, edited other people’s publications, published a non-fiction book. I’ve been an election observer in third world countries where violence was a serious risk. I’ve worn an RCMP uniform and ducked punches from a drunk. Like any other adult, I’ve had my share of failures.

How hard is it to find an agent? Way harder than any of those.

And soul-sapping, until you get to the point of realizing that the agents who don’t like your work don’t matter. They won’t be representing you. It’s the one that likes it that’s going to turn your life around.

My new agent wrote this three days after receiving the manuscript:

“Dear Peggy,

I read the novel over the weekend and quite literally couldn’t put it down. I love it and on the strength of this would love to represent the book and you. With its setting and characters, the book has enormous appeals and strengths …. There’s much to talk about here but I haven’t read anything so instantly compelling for some while and would relish the opportunity to work more closely on it with you … With best wishes and congratulations on a very fine first novel.”

At that moment, all that hard work and frustration was worth it. Writing a book is work. Finding an agent damn hard work. But so is anything worth doing well.

This entry was posted in Getting Published, Querying, The Author-Agent Relationship and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to How much work is it?

  1. aloysa says:

    OMG! I’ve read your post and felt frustrated and angry. This journey into publishing can be very long and very disappointing. At least you were getting rejections with some explanations. What frustrates me the most is a formal rejection… I would LOVE to get a short sentence that would say “It is too slow for me,” “I didn’t like the setting,” what the hell “I didn’t like your writing.” Something… Not just a formal short note. Congratulations on getting an offer! It is huge, huge accomplishment that is very well deserved.


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