Querying Agents – just how long does this take?

I love a spreadsheet. And when I started submitting my finished manuscripts to agents I had a good one. It had conditional formatting and filters and dates and formulas and I religiously updated it, recording the rejections in a sadomasochistic torture for the soul.

When I started out submitting (or querying), I had no idea how long things would take. Not a clue. Agents do give guidelines – some say 8-12 weeks, others 3 months, but really – what?

So, with the wonders of that spreadsheet, here’s exactly how mine played out. Of course, this is only my experience and YMMV (as the kids say…)

Nov 16. I quit my job. It was a bit of a gamble – to quit a nice steady career to freelance as a writer (with zero credentials or experience) – but I wanted the all or nothing approach. (It helped I was less than enamoured with my job.) At this time the book was about 90% complete (as I thought at the time).

18th Jan 17. Started submitting to agents. It took some time, as I wanted to tailor each letter to the person, and attach exactly what they wanted. If you’re interested in numbers at this point, I will say my initial research had 86 agents listed. A lot of these weren’t relevant for the manuscript, so further narrowed it down to 37. In the end, over Jan and Feb, I sent it out to 25 agents. (That was probably still too many, but as I said – all or nothing…)

19th Jan 17. First rejection within 24 hours. Thanks dude. Many more followed.

2nd Feb 17. First request for full manuscript to be sent over. Much wary rejoicing. More rejections.

March 17. A few more requests to see full manuscript. More rejections. At this time I had some freelance work so was busy editing a big technical project in London, while tentatively putting words on a page for book 2. Having the distraction definitely helped.

24th March 17. First request to meet face to face. Very exciting. (But I am a pessimist so still wary… So much could go wrong…)

6th April 17. Went to London and met with agents. They liked the book! They wanted to work with me. Ended up signing with the magnificent Ed Wilson at Johnson and Alcock. (Why Ed, you might ask? Well, I wanted to work with an agent that knew their stuff, but I also wanted someone that would be fun to work with. I wanted this book stuff to be enjoyable! Ed met both those criteria.)

Summer 17. Worked with Ed to make improvements to the book. Rewrote book. A few times….

September 17. Ed started submitting the book to publishers. At this point he warned me things could take a while, but…

October 17. Signed with Orion Fiction! Much rejoicing!

So that’s it! But of course, it wasn’t, there was a whole load of work to do from there. More edits, title changes, cover designs: a lot of hard work from a lot of people goes into getting a finished book ready.

It took a whole additional year. But that’s for another day, so here’s the last date:

4th October 2018. The Dream Wife published by Orion Fiction.

(Much rejoicing!)

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