There’s no greater fun than being born excitable. That’s me. You can never get me down. I get excited even with failure and I try, and I try, even at the cost of being laughed at. No worries; jump around, I say, and time will come when you will see yourself out of that godforsaken slushpit.
Guest blog by Abhijit Dasgupta, executive editor
of India Today magazine, the subcontinent’s
biggest English weekly. See his blog here.
He is repped by Patricia Moosbrugger.
To begin with (how many times do you have to say this to make your opening line work, I wonder), I have, I think, a good tale to tell you about agent hunting. I wrote my two-book 110,000-word Indian reincarnation-romance-historical novel, Three, in 2006 and went shopping for a literary agent in London. I found a big-time rep almost immediately. She was enthusiastic; nay, ecstatic with the ms. I felt like an author and started behaving like one. Even when I was signing sundry cheques, I was looking around for a copy of my published book to hand over along with them.
“HANG IN THERE, MATE”
She submitted to editors and I carried on being an author, smug in the confidence that she couldn’t fail. Middle 2008: I had finished Book 2 and she wanted revisions on Book 1. No worries; they all wanted revisions, said Google. But spirits were high – she was still most enthused (not ecstatic any longer, though). Months went by, and from ecstatic, she had slowly moved to being enthusiastic and finally, she was clearly egg-on-the-face. E-mails remained unanswered and it was obvious: She could not sell my book.
No, I did not press the panic button. I merely jumped. This was jumping done bad, jumping slowly going berserk. Eyesight blurred. Getting glasses changed and stuff like that. My peers told me that with what was happening in the West, India and China were soon to be world publishing powers. I found a few literary agents who had, I guess, upon similar foresight, opened shop. I mailed. They replied. Out went the attachments. I still haven’t heard from them. I thought again about how my London agent had been entranced, so I shot her e-mail after e-mail, asking what to do. There was just one reply to all of them, “Hang in there, mate … we are in bad times.” I was upside down without a clue to what would happen next, so I decided to sack her. In retrospect, I feel sad; traumatized is the word, that I could have acted in the way I did. She was the One who had believed in the ms turning from frog to prince. But why wasn’t she replying to my emails and how long would I have to wait?
STARTING ALL OVER
I Googled three words: historical, multicultural, romance. And sent the same query letter at random to agents whose names were thrown up by Google first and the various other online databases later. If there was one agent who matched even one of the criteria, she or he would be queried. That was a promise I made to myself and I delivered spot on. Between October and November, I do not remember anything else. Things became so hectic that even when I was supposed to be enjoying the next best thing to the sheer pleasure of living itself, I was hunting for the Send button to let go.
33 of them requested partials and fulls. I was overwhelmed! These were big names in the US and UK. Some had rejected me years before; others remembered me from previously submitting. Why the new interest? The revisions, I told myself; all of them wanted to see what London had suggested and whether it was any better this time. And something else dawned on me. This talk of the Downturn in the West was exaggerated. Agents were, as they came, happy to read.
THE MIDNIGHT KNOCK ON THE DOOR
Then one night (always late, very late night, or early morning … I live in India, you see), there was a knock at the computer door. The midnight knock, as we call it . You guessed it right. It was an offer of representation. Date? December 15. Time when it hit my computer? 3:32 am, Indian time. Sent from? London. Me doing what at that precise moment in history? Sending.
Following that mail, I got three more offers, two from the US and one more from the UK. There was so much of the sun at the top of the well now. I actually hummed Lennon. Finally, I fell for Patricia – Patricia Moosbrugger from Colorado. Someone who allows me to jump as much as I want to. Best, she loves historicals, my genre. Also, Google and all those trackers tell you she does not accept e-mail queries. She does. She accepted mine and is now “thrilled” to represent my magnum so-many-times-rejected opus.
So let me tell you: Yes, make querying an addiction. Break the goddamned rules. Send a lot of queries. One will stick. Or at least, if you are pretty unlucky with a problem of plenty, four will.