Beating the odds

C'mon, baby. Papa needs a literary agent.

I’m thrilled to be repped by the talented Sara Megibow of the Nelson Literary Agency. Getting an agent is a big victory for a debut writer, and it’s not easy. Here’s some humbling stats, courtesy of Kristin Nelson’s blog. In 2010, the agency received an estimated 36,000 queries. Mine was one of them. Of those queries, Kristin and Sara requested sample pages (generally the first few chapters) from just 839 queriers. I was also one of those.

Of those, the agency requested 98 full manuscripts (mine was sent this year, not last, so I’m not in that stat). And finally, Kristin and Sara agreed to represent nine new clients in 2010.

Nine. For those playing at home, that’s a 6,000-to-1 query-to-client ratio. Yeah, I feel good about having an agent!

Here’s the query letter I sent back on May 24, 2010. I addressed it to Kristin, who was due in New York for a big book conference — hence the reference in the letter.

Allow me to pull you away from your BookExpo duties, your blogging, your reading and agenting and all that stuff. Allow me to put you on the quarterdeck of an 18th century Royal Navy frigate. The wind’s at your back, the crew’s bustling about you and the currents are in your favor.

Your destination…Mars.

Incredulous? That’s how Lt. Shaila Jain felt when, in 2132, her explorations of Mars uncovered the personal journal of Royal Navy Lt. Thomas Weatherby, late of HMS Daedalus. In that 1779 diary, she found a tale of intrigue, murder, occult science and swashbuckling adventure – a story that echoed the real-life mysteries that had come to surround the red planet

SPACEBUCKLER is a completed 80,000-word novel combining 22nd century science-fiction with 18th century historical fantasy, in which both Jain and Weatherby are drawn into the mad schemes of a quantum physicist and a renegade alchemist, schemes that could unleash an ancient evil upon not one, but two universes.

I’ve been a journalist and writer for 17 years, with four non-fiction books to my credit; this is my first novel. I have two others mapped out in the same setting, as well as a possible prequel set in the Elizabethan area. I’ve queried you because your blog has been a great resource in my quest to see my work published, and I think you might enjoy the genre-bending setting I’m trying to pull off here.

Thanks for taking the time to review my query. I look forward to hearing from you. And have fun here in the Big Apple!

Pure cheese, right? I look back and shudder. I can just hear the movie trailer guy now. “In a world gone MAD….” And as my wife Kate just pointed out, I dropped a period at the end of the third paragraph. And still got an agent.

Oh, and yes, it’s called Spacebuckler. For now. I’m sure it’ll change, but that’s the name that’s stuck with me for years.

So what’s next, now that I have an agent? Revisions. Lots…and lots…of revisions. Which is a good topic for another post.


Filed under Writing

13 responses to “Beating the odds

  1. Congratulations on beating the odds signing with Sara! Those statistics are quite scary, aren’t they? I keep wondering if she’s going to email me one of these days and told me there’s been some kind of mistake.

  2. Those statistics are scary! Congrats on finding an agent! The story sounds fantastic!

  3. You’re a rock star!
    Welcome aboard and SOOOOO happy to be working with you!
    Happy writing,

  4. joshua

    Awesome query… and sounds like a terrific story.

  5. Michael- How very honest of you. Life is a gamble. We’re always throwing in our lot to see what will come out in the end. It might seem like a lottery that’s impossible to win, but if we never take the chance, we’ll never get there.

    Congrats on your story, and I hope that bright things are in your very near future.

  6. A tad cheesy, but it totally works 🙂 Congrats! (met your agent at a recent writers’ conf in SLC)

  7. Congrats! The story sounds great! Your query may not have caught Kristin’s eye…but you landed Sara!!! Awesome!!

  8. I just have to say SPACEBUCKLER sounds awesome!

    It’s easy to beat the odds when you’ve got a killer story, right? 🙂

  9. Congrats on beating the statistics. I love your query and the premise of your book. It has both of my favorite genres scifi and historical fantasy, pure heaven all wrapped up in one package. I’ll eagerly look for it in the book stores.

  10. Congrats on breaking through. If the odds weren’t so high, chasing the dream wouldn’t be as fun or rewarding! Good luck!

  11. Congrats, Michael! I’m hoping I beat the odds soon..

  12. Cool query! *Wants to read the book like right now*

  13. Congrats to both of you! 😀

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