I bit the bullet and sent out four query letters last night to get a sense for this undertaking. I did some research on how to write one, discovered that I should open with a "hook", have a description of the book in the middle and end with a bio and keep it under one page. I did that. I read it twenty-nine times and am pretty happy with the way it looks, honestly.
So, I went into my bookmarks where a list of Publishers and Agents has been growing and I picked a few that ONLY want query letters. There were four of them. I addressed each to the particular agent I thought would be best and tweaked the query to personalize it to each one. Then, I hit send. I started at 11:59 p.m. last night(I checked my sent box, that's the EXACT time).
I received my first rejection at 12:16 A.M. Seventeen minutes. I've heard stories of agents and editors taking months to respond, if they respond at all. That may very well be my experience moving forward. At least in those cases, if they take a long time, you can comfort yourself with how long they must have slaved over your work and struggled to reject it because they love it but have an unsympathetic boss who wants the perpetual success of a Harry Potter or Twilight instead of something a little more original and much better written.
There's no comfort in seventeen minutes. None at all. Unless this person was checking her e-mail when I sent it, I suspect she spent maybe thirty seconds looking at my letter. It wasn't a form letter I received back either, which makes me suspect she was working from home, though I know I'm making a lot of assumptions here. She said that I had a good letter but that they have a limited number of agents who have openings and that none of the agents available are interested in urban fantasy. I can understand that. It's much better than them saying my writing sucks and I should give up. Still, seventeen minutes. I guess it's better to know than to never hear, but I would have almost rather they had taken six weeks.