Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Finding a Literary Agent

Finding a Literary Agent: So I've written a book. [1]  And unless I am kidding myself and the people who were nice enough to proof read for me were all lying to me, it's a pretty good book. [2] Of course, I didn't spend a huge amount of time writing and rewriting the book to just have half a dozen people read it.  I would love to get it published.

At this point then, I have three options.

Option 1 is to try and directly contact and convince a publisher to publish it.  If this were an easy thing to do, there wouldn't be literary agents.

Option 2 is to self-publish.  I have not totally given up on this idea, but from what I have read, it seems to me this is akin to a last desperate measure and that self-publishing is essentially accepting that your book will never be published any other way. [3]

Option 3 is to find a literary agent.

One might think that this cannot be that hard of a task.  And I guess as I've stated it, it really isn't.  Let me clarify a bit.

Option 3 is to find a literary agent who is willing to represent you.

Those extra six words representing the stickiest of wickets.  Because it is easy to find literary agents.  There are literally books and books listing them.  There are websites [4] listing hordes of agents and how to contact them and what they are looking for [5] and they all have discussion boards where you can read about someone's desperate attempts to find a valid email address for the J. Q. Smith & Associates Literary Agency and does anyone know for sure that they aren't out of business. 

Oh but finding an agent willing to take some time to even give your manuscript [6] a decent look over is like finding a four leaf clover. [7]

One of the biggest issues is the "Query Letter".  With one exception every agent I have solicited or even thought about soliciting is asking for a query letter.  This is basically a one page letter in which you have to summarize what your book is about and who you are and what writing accomplishments you have to your name.  But you have to do it in such a way that your query letter stands out from the other six thousand query letters the agency also received . . . today. [8]

Here's the problem with that.  That's not my forte.  If I were good at saying things in short, brief, one page letters that made the story [9] sound amazing, I wouldn't be writing several hundred page novels. It's not in my skill set.  It's probably not in most authors skill sets.  And I can say this with some assurance because there are literally dozens of books and websites our there just about how to write the perfect query letter.

But even if I could dedicate myself to becoming able to write the best query letter in the universe, the truth of the matter is, I don't want to.  I don't want to learn how to make myself sound amazingly awesome-er than I really am.  I don't want to learn how to sell myself and my book [10] like I'm trying to convince someone to buy a used car.  I want to write great books.  I want to write stories [11] that make people forget their own lives for a few minutes and when they finish say, "Hey, that was pretty good" and maybe even, "I wonder what else this guy has written." 

Of course right now nobody is going to be able to say even that because I lack the perfect query letter. To be honest, I'm not sure I'd want to read something by somebody who could write the perfect query letter.  I think I've seen that before.  It was the pamphlet lying on the table when that company was trying to browbeat us into buying into that vacation time share. [12]

And so every few days, I dutifully spend an hour or so of my time tearing out another small piece of my soul and attaching it to a query letter and if I'm lucky the first three chapters or thirty pages of my manuscript [13] and I send them off either electronically [14] or by snail mail and you hope that one day someone might just say more to you than:

Thank you so much for your interest in [Name of Literary Agency]. While your project has much merit, I'm afraid I don't feel strongly enough to take it on in this tough marketplace. I wish you the best in placing it elsewhere. [15]

Of course I should probably be thankful I got that.  Most of them don't respond to you at all.

Maybe I'll go online and see if anyone else has gotten a response from J. Q. Smith and Associates.

Or better yet, maybe I could better spend my time writing a book.

Finding a Literary Agent: D

[1] - Technically at this point I have written three books and, depending on how you figure such things, either a novella or a long short story.
[2] - Granted some of those proofreaders were related to me by blood or marriage, but others weren't.
[3] - The picture of whatever self-published person Amazon is hyping on their home screen notwithstanding.
[4] - Plural.
[5] - Supposedly.
[6] - Technical term.  Nobody is looking for books, they all want manuscripts.
[7] - In the Sahara.
[8] - Granted 6,000 is just my estimation, but based upon the websites and books and upon the rejection letters I've received, this is, if anything, a conservative number.
[9] - And myself
[10] - Oops sorry, I meant manuscript.
[11] - That are longer than just one page.
[12] - And yes, I was totally just there to get free tickets to Disney World.
[13] - Not that I believe anyone actually reads them.
[14] - For faster more efficient rejection.
[15] - With the exception of removing the name of the agency, that is a direct quote of a complete, and I'm sure heartfelt, rejection.

1 comment:

  1. Muahahahahahah (with wringing of hands, and a white cat)