It took a while for me to get my thoughts together on this one, primarily because I had to reflect on my first few months of seeking publication to adequately address this subject. I know this has been covered a gazillion times (yes, I said gazillion >add to dictionary<), but here are my two cents worth. For those seeking to publish for the first time: if you decide to seek an Agent, the process will probably be a little shocking to you once you begin. For me, “oblivious” would best describe my prior knowledge of this ritual. So, here are the main points and lessons learned that I need to pass on to you:
1. Do your homework. What does that mean? It means understand the process. I would start by searching for literary Agents and reading everything you can find about them. Read their blogs, bios, interviews, etc.. You’ll get a better understanding about how they work and how the system works. You’ll also come to understand the onslaught they face every day, day in and day out. I’m still amazed when an Agent describes the volume of queries they face everyday. But that’s just part of the equation. When they represent someone, a good deal of their time must be spent taking care of that client. It’s a pretty intense relationship, and it’s important to both parties. When you land an Agent, you’ll understand that all the better. They are relying on their skills and taking a chance on you and your body of work. It’s their bread and butter. On that note, look for an Agent that’s a good fit for you. That process will not always be easy, but pay attention to the info out there. You’ll get a good feel for what they like and don’t like, on a personal and professional level. It’s not perfect science, just do the best you can.
2. Patience. Lord knows, if you thought you were a patient person, you will see the error of your ways. You MUST be patient. You WILL be patient if you successfully navigate this process. Because of everything (and then some more) mentioned above, it will take time. Any impatience on your part will not speed up the process. Accept it.
3. Rejection. I know, I know. Who would reject your masterpiece? A lot would and will. But have faith. It’s not necessarily because you wrote a steaming pile of….well, that’s not always the reason. Think of an Agent as a buyer for a big department store chain. The company seeks product based on trends and needs. An agency seeks product based on that. You may have a masterpiece on you hands, but if the need is not there, or the agency is taking another direction on genre acquisition, the agency cannot justify taking your work. The Agent may love your book, but the agencies do not drive the market. Consumers do. But don’t lose faith. Trends change like the seasons. Your ship may come in before long. Start that next novel! Anyone in this business will tell you that rejection is standard fare for every aspiring writer. Welcome to the writing life!
4. Finally, don’t take it personal. Remember, Agents are real people, just like you! I won’t elaborate…oh, wait. I did elaborate! (see above).
Now, I have to go tally my rejections for the week. But all is not lost. I have a few fulls out there in the dream world.