I follow the two agents that I sent to (both rejections) on twitter. It so happens that the first agent I sent to listed ten queries that she either accepted or passed on. Passed is a much nicer term, btw. Anyway, through process of elimination and a time frame, I soon became pretty sure that one of the queries she passed on was mine. Pretty sure without being totally positive. I mean, you can't really know, now can you? Still, I was pretty sure. What the agent did was tell the number, the genre and why she passed. For example:
#6 = pass. science fiction. Writing is stilted/rough/awkward (clarity is hard without specifics but 'twas my reaction.
Now, again, it was through process of elimination that I determined this could be mine. When I initially got my rejection letter, I re-read through my query. I knew I wanted to spice it up and make it better for the next agent, because obviously this didn't work. I redrafted and sent to my second agent. It wasn't until later that I saw the first agents post and the #6 business. After reading her tweet about awkward writing, I went back and re-read my original query again. I TOTALLY AGREE WITH HER. I need to be SLAPPED! (Stay away from me with those ready hands) The first sentence of my blurb had four -FOUR- comma's in it. What?! And the second sentence...What was I thinking? So, having already redrafted with what I thought was a better query letter and having sent it to another agent (had to keep trying) I got on twitter and saw what the first agent had wrote about said #6. I tweeted back:
Me: I’m paranoid this is mine! Haha. I re-read mine and fixed it. I would love to resend.
Agent: resend is fine, but make sure you’ve reworked the manuscript too. A query letter is a fairly accurate representation of book.
Having read the tweet, I was totally regretting sending to my second agent. It's like throwing an egg up inoto the air, stepping back and waiting for it to crash onto the pavement. I already knew it'd get rejected by this point. The next morning is when I got my second rejection. But that second agent also tweeted, directing us to her blog on query's she's worked with: passed and accepted.
She would tell about the ones she accepted and tell about the ones she passed on. Here's a link: Query Roundup This post really encouraged me. Though I can't be sure if she referenced mine in there (I really can't) I can still narrow things down and do a lot of learning.
Before I send my next query in, I'm going to go through the entire manuscript before sending it to make sure that it doesn't have any awkward, unnatural sentences (which this post is probably filled with). I'm also going to work on uniqueness/grab potential - reference the above link. I tried hard to make sure my work was read and error free, but never counted on awkward sentences, nor lack of originality.
I'm really happy I sent in my two letters, even though they got rejected, because I feel like I learned and now I have something to work with. I also know that I can resend to them both in the future. Awesome. Now you know where I'm at in this process, and if you're considering sending to an agent, go for it, but make sure your work is PERFECT. Seriously, it's the small stuff that get's you. They won't overlook it. It's the small stuff, too. And of course the big stuff. So that's what I'm aiming for, perfection - I said aiming.