(Art is my own)
It’s been a year since I had started my YA Asian fantasy novel GUARDIAN LION. I started writing in June and finished it in December, roughly half a year. Still can’t believe I had finished it at 141,000 words (and later cut it down, with much effort, to 116,000 words). Naturally, after revising the manuscript to the best of my ability, I was itching to query it and hope it’d get a few grabs.
(For the sake of anonymity and avoiding any chance of identification, I will refer to the agent as “they/their/them.”)
So I sent the query to an agent I thought would like my work. And looking back, I probably broke a few rules and made a bunch of mistakes. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to attach that world map I had drawn. I should have addressed the agent by their full name, rather than assuming Mr. or Miss. (I got their gender right, but still. It’s dangerous to assume.) At that time I had no publishing history. Despite all this, they got back to me loving to see more. A full manuscript request. Awesome!
This agent has a few clients who are Asian females like me, who have published speculative short fiction in reputable magazines like Nightmare and Strange Horizons. According to Querytracker stats, I made it as one of 13 full requests. Out of 300-something total queries. That’s nothing to sneeze at. So I got excited, hoping for the best…and not quite preparing myself for the worst.
They got back to me in a week. Unfortunately, it ultimately ended as a rejection, albeit a personal and helpful one. It stings because I felt I had come so close, and despite myself I had hopes of landing this one agent. (Doing this only sets yourself up for disappointment.) Until I get enough feedback voicing the same criticism, I won’t change up my manuscript just yet. I’ve heard about the dangers of trying to follow one agent’s advice, trying to meet the expectations of that one person, and losing your vision in the process.
I won’t give up on GUARDIAN LION, but I think it might be best for me to shelf it for a bit and dabble in publishing some short fiction, so I can build up a solid body of professional work that can catch the eyes of agents and editors interested in representing me.
Keep calm and keep writing!