I’m looking for an agent…that elusive species, which, if found, could bring joy (at the very least, a book deal) to my life. Those of you who have gone through the process, or are in it right now, know it’s a tough road to travel. Not only is it hard to find agents interested in _____ (enter your genre here), it’s hard to make yourself stand out amongst all the other people searching for an agent who specializes in ____ (enter your genre here).
The worst part, though?
Well, the rejections, of course. But after that, it’s the waiting. I know agents are busy, I know they gets lots and lots of email and snail mail and have to spend time trudging through submissions and on selling the manuscripts they actually do accept to publishers, not to mention that they need to eat and sleep, but I’m telling you, waiting a minimum of 4-6 weeks to hear back can be painful. Mainly because at the end of the wait, chances are, you’re going to get a rejection.
Here are some of the rejections you might receive:
“Thank you for your submission. While your work shows promise, we don’t feel that it fits our needs right now.” Or… “I need to be sufficiently excited about a book to try and sell it and I’m just not feeling that about yours.” Or… “Go away.” I haven’t actually received that last one, but I imagine it’s only a matter of time…
On this long and perilous journey, I’m trying to stay positive. I’m trying to make my query letter sing, trying to follow all the different agency rules/regulations/orders down to the last little detail (which is never little to the agent, let me tell you). I suggest you do the same. No sense biting the hand that might someday feed you.
I wonder if agents know the power they have over us writers? Do they feel it? Do they get annoyed with our neediness and seek to punish us by throwing us into the Slush pile? I imagine some revel in their power – I suppose the rest are just plain tired and overworked and wished they only got what they wanted/requested instead of pink personalized stationery laden with hearts and lots of typos in a five-page query letter that talks about how much your hubbykins loves your book, but never says much about the book itself. Hint: Don’t do this.
Author wannabes, you’re not alone in this long, lonely, difficult process. It can be scary, disheartening, and depressing. But it can also be a great learning and growing experience (I hope). Maybe someday I (and you, too) will finally find that person who believes in us. Maybe someday (soon – life, I’m finding as I age, is incredibly short), I will meet the agent of my dreams. I imagine us sharing lunch – laughing, crying, singing Kumbaya together. It’ll be great. Though, really, I’d just settle for help getting my book published and a nice working relationship, and maybe the occasional box of chocolates.
In the meantime, I will keep writing and honing my craft and marketing my other book and crying into my pillow late at night. What else is a person to do, but keep trying?
Wait…Don’t answer that.
Just keep trying.
Oh, and listen to Jem’s song…It’s Amazing