Christopher X Ryan (christopherx on QT) has signed with agent Emma Hamilton of Kneerim & Williams.
Start with low-priority agents and query no more than a few every week or two so that you can gauge your progress.
Rejection sucks. Let it crush you for a short while, get mad, then get back to work.
Beyond that, the most important thing you can do is have a killer opening chapter and the absolute best query letter you can muster. If you’re struggling to capture the essence of your novel in your query, there is likely something amiss with your novel. If you cannot sum up the plot or capture characters, the plot is probably too vague or complicated, and the characters are probably too weak or passive.
If your query is not captivating, meaning it does not have a hook or a few compelling lines that will surely snag the attention of a few agents, then you need to reassess your strategy. Are you holding back? Are you telling too much? Are you focused on details and failing to instead give a broader sense of your talent and the nature of your book?
If your query is strong, however, and your manuscript is getting rejected, put the query aside and think about what might be turning off the readers (agents). Agents obviously have keen insight into what works and doesn’t work, so when they sense something is off (even if they can’t put their finger on it or don’t have the time to tell you exactly what’s wrong), they simply pass. The good ones will request a revision and see you through the process, but they don’t have time to respond to more than one or two emails.
Don’t bother with paying someone to write or edit a query letter for you. Some of the worst advice I ever got was from so-called experts, all of which I disregarded. Writers really should be the best marketers of their own work, so it’s essential that you learn this craft. If you have beta readers, use them to assess your query. Send it to your mother. Send it to a business-type colleague. Ask if it would inspire them to read the book or if they’d keep browsing. Beyond that, writers really need to be able to do this properly in order to see their book through the entire process.
Finally, use QueryTracker religiously. Other than Evernote for keeping track of agents, QT was the only tool I used. No Twitter, no gimmicks, no forums. I just followed the standard process and was as patient as possible while also being relentless and hopeful.
Days after his home country of America elects a fascist demagogue to its highest office, disgraced art restorer Frank Schugazi arrives on the shores of the far-north Finnish island of Hella, where he plans to recuperate and spend time with his oldest friend, Kari. But when Frank (“Shoegazer” to his friends) finally rings the bell in the lobby of the hotel they plan to renovate, Kari isn’t there. Worse, part of the building has recently been set on fire and a group of neo-Nazi youths is reportedly stalking the coastline.
The search for Kari, whose real name is Kareem and whose dark skin makes him an easy target in largely homogenous Finland, takes Frank from the Bothnian Bay to the great northern territory of Lapland. There, with the help of an alluring but volatile crimson-haired Finn named Loviisa, Frank probes the shadowy recesses of a land that sometimes sees mere minutes of sunlight. He soon finds himself face to face with a mysterious group called the Council, who reveal to him the heart of the nation—literally, in a velvet-lined box—and present him with an ultimatum as bleak as the weather. Kari, they claim, has been radicalized, and only with their help will his life be spared.
As the ice and snow settle in, Frank must stop staring at his feet and decide how far he’ll go to protect himself, Loviisa, and his oldest friend—even if that friend no longer resembles the person he once was.
Timely and atmospheric, THE SHOEGAZER could be considered an amalgam of Per Petterson’s “Out Stealing Horses” and the crime fiction of Elizabeth Hand. The full manuscript is available upon request.