Hi all! I'm currently using querytracker to hopefully find an agent for my fiction. And it's the same uphill slog as everyone else seems to be having. However, I've got a little success story that I'd like to share, because it proves that the improbable sometimes comes through.
In 2005 I had an idea for a niche nonfiction book-- the genre was cookery. Together with my high-school friend, we spent, let's say, a couple of hours writing a book proposal (with the help of ONE book on the topic). We sent proposals to FOUR agents, and two of them offered to represent the book if we made certain changes to our proposal.
We did, and the agent began her work. She was turned down by many, many houses, until the book was picked up by Clarkson Potter-- which is THE cookery house. Those who turned us down tended to say "nice idea, but probably toooooo tight a niche to sell."
So, I could now brag at cocktail parties (if I ever went to any) that I have the same publisher as Martha and Rachel Ray. The book was published last fall, and my Amazon ranking hovers around 7,000, which is pretty durned good. For my trouble, I earned about half of a starting elementary school teacher's salary. From Iowa. And spread over 3 years. But to be honest, writing that cookbook was a walk in the park compared to finishing my novel.
The point is this-- now that I'm working much harder to find representation for my novel, I've read a lot of agenting and query writing books more closely. Amusingly, they all seem to say that my cookbook is a non-starter! Because I never had a "platform," or a radio show, or a built in audience. I don't have a cookery blog with 30,000 hits a month. I'm glad I didn't read those things first-- I just pitched the darned thing, and now I'm in every Barnes and Noble. Go figure.
So as I sit stamping SASEs for my novel, I try to remember-- it only takes one!
Good luck out there!