Sep 22, 2009

Successful Query

I have an agent. Holy smokes, did I say that? I think I did. It must be real.

We're working to get RUDY TOOT-TOOT in shape for submission to a publisher. If you search for Rudy Toot-Toot on this blog you can find the queries, but they aren't what was important, to be honest with you. The important parts were the characters and the writing. It didn't happen overnight. [NOTE: It happened over an hour in the afternoon. You can move fast when the manuscript is only 4,000 words.]

Some history, because this is what's important:

I've been reading agent and editor blogs for about 18 months (I'm a parent, so I speak in months up to 3 years. Do the math.) I've tried to participate by commenting frequently, to show a professional attitude and foster discussion about the craft of writing and the business of publishing. And also be an occasional smart-ass. But I was careful to stay on topic and not hijack a thread (I probably just got on twelve NSA lists for using the word "hijack." You just made three for reading it.)

I've queried and been rejected many times for other works. I've had an agent review a partial, but declined the full with helpful feedback. To be honest with you, it wasn't ready. As hard a pill as that was to swallow, all that work on my first novel had to be re-done. WIP. But the re-write is better. A lot better. Good enough? Time will tell.

I also had a picture book manuscript, but most agents don't represent picture books. I found a couple that do and queried but never got a reply. Eventually I came across news of a children's publishing veteran joining a literary agency, and I reached out to her through the email address on her blog, indicating that I was familiar with the books she works with (i.e. picture books and children's books). I also noted that I read her preferred submission methods (which did not include querying), and asked if she would was open to a query for my picture book. She said for picture books she prefers the whole manuscript, but recommended I wait until her official start date at a new agency about 3 weeks later.

I had the patience to wait until her second day at the agency, mostly to make sure her email account would be set up. It took a couple weeks before she responded with very good feedback, but ultimately saying it wasn't enough and encouraging more from the story. She ended with "please stay in touch."

So I got to writing. After another three weeks the 500-word picture book grew into a 4,000 word chapter book, and a quick sit-down at dinner grew to a full day of doing chores at the family Bean Market.

I re-queried by replying to her last email with the new query, and I attached a copy of the manuscript again. This is good protocol, it helps a busy agent remember who you are, and they don't have to dig for a prior email. But alas, I received an out of office reply that said she would still check messages when possible.

One month passed, and each day I wanted to email her and ask,"Did you get it? What'd you think?"

But I didn't. I waited a full month and then I decided to follow-up via email. I very politely mentioned that I re-queried with a new MS a month ago and got an out of office reply, so I just wanted to make sure it didn't fall through the cracks. I did this by forwarding the prior query (which had the entire originating thread) and I re-attached the manuscript.

It turns out the other email did fall through the cracks, and she read the re-submission right away. She got back to me within the hour (4,000 words = 16 pages) and said she would like to help get it in shape for a publisher, and the rest of that day was spent discussing the story and what it needs. This morning I woke up early to get writing before my day job, and my alarm's set for an early rise again tomorrow.

And the rest is history (in the making)...

NOTE: I have not given up on my other two works in progress, but they are on the back burner for a short while. Must keep writing. For now, this is a great step on my path to publication.


Joshua McCune said...

Strong work, thanks for recounting, and, once again, a big ole congrats.

Beth C. said...


Joshua McCune said...

Question: - would your agent be willing to work w/ you on your more adult fare, or would you have to secure a 2nd agent (who hopefully she'd be able to hook you up with)?

Lori Folkman said...

Yippee! Way to go Rick! Glad to see all the blog reading pays off eventually. :)

Bane had a good question. Does an author ever have more than one agent?

Also, I may be a little slow, but I've been wondering where the word verification def. idea came from. Hilarious! I love reading your comments on other blogs.

My word verification- Pyewee: The younger, saner brother of the infamous Pee-wee Herman.
How'd I do on my first try?

storyqueen said...

Congratulations, Rick! Hard work pays off!


Rick Daley said...


We haven't discussed other works. I'm hesitant to bring it up until Rudy is ready for submission, but I'm sure the question of "what's next" will come up. And right now neither of my other novels are ready for submission. But my hope is that she would take them on, her background is not exclusively children's books, but that's her focus. I like to think that she would be able to hook me up with another agent if it came to that, but that really boils down to the manuscripts.

I do have two other ideas for different with in the children's and middle-grade area, so I'm sure I'll start developing them at some point, too.

So much to write, so little time.

Rick Daley said...


I'm not sure who first started the word verification interpretations, but it's a fun little game, isn't it? You didn't do bad on your first try. It's kind of like a Rorshcach test, but with letters instead of ink blots.

Julie said...

Such exciting news!!! Congrats!! It's inspirational for all of us to hear someone is getting closer!

Unknown said...


Ryan S. Kinsgrove said...

Just wanted to say congrats:)

word ver: untent- the technical term for sleeping under the stars.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Rick,

I've been occasionally popping in to read queries when time permitted.

It's always wonderful to here of someone's success, and it makes you realize it is possible to obtain.

I'm nearing the query stage, hopefully I will be able to translate the knowledge gained from reading blogs the same way you have.


gj said...

I love hearing that hard work pays off.


Lisa Katzenberger said...

Congrats Rick! So happy for you!

Rick Daley said...

Thanks everyone, I appreciate your support and encouragement. Keep working at it so I can do the same for you!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! Thanks for all the information. I write for children too so please keep telling about your journey.

When your book comes out, find me on Facebook so I can spread the word.


L. T. Host said...

You're hilarious Rick. Hijack. There, I'm on a few more NSA lists myself.

At any rate, congrats again :) I only have one question: HOW DOES IT FEEL??!??! :)

John said...

Way to go Rick! And thanks for all the constructive input you've made available to all of us on this and other blogs.

Victoria Dixon said...

Congrats and all my respect! You clearly worked hard for it.

Rick Daley said...


I'll let you know. It will be a while, though, given the speed at which the publishing industry moves. First we have to make sure the MS is ready to submit, then wait for a publisher to respond, go through edits, etc.

I will post updates, though!

LT- It feels surreal. The biggest impact is the new-found passion and enthusiasm for the story. Not that I ever lost it, but this sure gives it an incredible boost!

Regina Quentin said...

Sounds like hard work...that is definitely worth it.

Gina Logue said...

Congratulations, Rick.
Good to see your hard work getting some results.

Sierra Godfrey said...

Yay!! Congratulations to you Rick. I see you comment on many blogs and I hope you know that you've taken the time to put yourself out there, and you're known! Congrats!

dolorah said...

Awessome!!!!! Just really awesome, dude. I'm so happy for you. Maybe this is a step in the "I knew Rick Daley when" direction.

I really hope things work out well for you.

And, because I'd like to be among the NSA watch list, I'll say - you did a good job not hijacking any threads, and your posts are well worth interrupting for.

Good Luck!!


word verif: entatter. preparing a tatter tot for french fries.

Unknown said...

Congratulations, Rick! It's awesome to see you get rewarded for all your hard work, and especially all the help you've given us with this blog. Good luck with the rest of the process!

Laura Martone said...

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Mucho congrats, Rick! You sure do work hard, and you sure do deserve it!

MonikaS said...

Congrats Rick. It's so wonderful to hear about the successes of our fellow 'in the trenches' writers. I wish you the best of luck and thank you for providing a forum for the rest of us to HOPEFULLY have a similar story to share.


Natalie said...

Rick that is so AWESOME! I've seen your comments on other blogs (I too have been reading agent and editor blogs for the last 18 months) and I'm so happy for you. Congrats!

wendy said...

A well-deserved win, Rick. Happy and excited for you. And looking forward to seeing Rudy Toot-Toot in print.

Rick Daley said...

Thanks Wendy!