So this time last year, my ex-agent and I had parted ways (a good thing, based on all the stuff I’ve heard about him in the past year with regards to his fiction authors), and I was revising Love Sucks like a madwoman based on another (better) agent’s suggestions.
I was not querying AFTRLYF, unfortunately.
The first time I heard that angels were suddenly “big” was last March. I was on my writing vacation and took time to say, “Wow, I should revamp my AFTRLYF query and start querying again.” Only I was in the middle of querying LS and writing Boy/Girl, and as soon as my vacation was done, I got ex-agent.
When I spoke to the agent who made the suggestions for revising LS, she asked about my other novels, so I told her about AFTRLYF. “Angels are hot right now,” she told me.
And then I spent the next three months dealing with the LS agent drama, revising it, and moving. After so much revising, it seemed obvious that I should query LS again. Besides, agents had already started saying that they were seeing too many angel novels.
Only…, they weren’t all saying it. An agent comes back from a conference saying, “Angels are still hot.” Suddenly, agents are putting reapers in a different category from angels (AFTRLYF is about angels of death, aka reapers, not to be confused with the villain, known as The Reaper) and start saying that they’re getting a lot of those queries.
I sighed. I had AFTRLYF, and I knew it was good. The novel had been revised several times since I wrote it ages ago. But I just sucked at querying it. The query was either boring or sounded too YA (and it was originally an adult novel).
Finally, I bit the bullet and revised it into a YA novel. It was hard. Getting Sam to be younger than a teen Tia but still doing the things I needed him to do while grieving for his girlfriend’s death was difficult, but I got it there. Tia was pretty easy. She always did have something of a teenage attitude. So then the problem I had when I revised my query again? People said that the focus on her job made it sound too adult. So I revised my query again and again and again. And I probably have it as good as I can make it. Hopefully, it stands out from other angel novels.
I mean, it’s not just angels or even angels of death. It’s angels of death, where limbo is like waiting at the DMV, where the MC is really bad at her job (and it is a job–she gets paid for it), where there’s a murder to be solved, where angels go through 200 years of middle school before they can do their job, where the love interest/main suspect is immortal, where heaven and hell are both places that no angel should go, where there are 10 gods…. Well, I think there are a lot of cool elements that make it stand out, but putting them in a query is the trick 😉
But… nothing I put in the query is going to change the fact that this is an angel book. So when I did a one-sentence summary the other day and my friend said, “That’s super lame. Angels are cliches,” well…, it’s a book about angels of death. Nothing’s going to change that. I could pretend it’s a dystopian and talk about all the ways that the angel’s society is not perfect, but I don’t think anyone’s going to buy that it’s an actual dystopian. The MC is an angel of death, a grim reaper. (This does not, in fact, mean that my one-sentence summary didn’t need work, but the only reason he gave was that it was about angels.)
And, yes, it’s sad that I missed the boat. It’s even sadder that the boat was in dock while the novel was sitting there written and edited, but that I was too busy dealing with an agent relationship that went nowhere to notice.
<puts on swimsuit> Well, all that means is that it’s going to take a little more work to get on that boat. Here I go.
Currently on iPod: Goodnight, Goodnight by Maroon 5
Lots of love,
ETA: Haha, just had to add the irony I realized after I had posted: I was actually trying to get on a boat at the time that agent offered.