As I mentioned last week, I hit 50 queries on Blackout Odyssey, so I thought in the interests of those playing along at home, I’d do a numbers round-up.

First query sent: January 7, 2019
50th query sent: May 6, 2019

Rejections: 23
Ghosts: 9 (a great ratio!)
Pending: 14

Full manuscript requests: 4
Full manuscript rejections: 1

PitMad likes: 6 (Three of which turned into full manuscript requests, one was a rejection, and two I turned down as unsuitable markets)

All in all, a respectable showing. Is it the kind of results that people get excited and write articles about? No. Is it the end of the experiment? Also no.

The two biggest pieces of feedback I have gotten to date about BOO come from various sources: it’s too short at 50,000 words to sell commercially, and it’s a weird fish, genre-wise, which makes it hard to sell. I can’t do anything about the second criticism, and regarding the first: I may end up revising it to be longer if I can figure out a way to do so without padding it. It currently feels like the story it wants to be; I am not adding 5-10K to it without knowing exactly what it’s ‘missing’, if anything. So that’s that.

But I thought since I hit 50 agent queries I might stop and re-evaluate my goals before embarking on the next 50.

If it’s too short (and probably too Toronto-centric, although no one has come out and said that yet) then maybe I should turn my attention from agents (who are mostly based in the US) to local small presses. The advice I was given was to target either agents or presses but not both at the same time; apparently agents hate signing with a client to find out that there’s a list of places the book has been submitted to and failed out of without the professional polish an agent can provide. Seems fair enough. BUT agents aren’t biting AND I want a change. Small presses it is!

Step one: print out new queryometer.

Step 2: go to coworking space, get coffee, set up compy and settle in.

Step 3: review list of small presses that you have been assembling as you go. Discover that many of those small presses are closed to submissions or no longer accepting unagented submissions period. Quietly begin to panic. Take a moment and reassess. Go to google. Start accruing lists of ‘small presses that accept unagented submissions’. Open each market in a new tab.

Step 4: have another coffee and stare into the abyss.

Step 5: go through your open tabs, one at a time, to check suitability for each press. Do they publish SF? Do they accept emailed submissions? (Some still only accept hardcopy manuscripts, and I’m leaving those until last. SASEs with international reply coupons are annoying.) Close any markets that are unsuitable.

Step 7: go back to google and repeat.

Step 8: lose track around the 75 mark partly because of depression, partly because of boredom.

Step 9: realize the abyss is staring back.

Step 10: find out the coworking space is closing in an hour and you only have 5 suitable markets out of the afternoon’s worth of googling. Lose will to go on (also they put away the coffee). Save those 5 markets to your spreadsheet, pack up, go home. Pull the duvet over your head and fail to read anything because the words just don’t stick any more.

I don’t have any solid stats about the ratio of markets because as I said I lost track of how many I looked at. More than 50; less than 100. My eyes were like desiccated peas and also there was no more coffee, so I plan to go back to the co-working space on Thursday to send those five queries. I don’t have any short stories to send out so if I want to hit my submission target for the week those 5 queries will have to be it.

Hitting 50 queries on small presses is going to be A LOT more work than agent queries and to be honest I have some daunts. Quite a few daunts. I am fairly and truly daunted.

But until I know what an alternative looks like, I just have to carry on. So I’ll be back on Thursday with an update, and next week I will start at Step 1 again. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, after all.

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