About a month ago, I finally started The Great Agent Hunt of ’11. My first, actually, since my actual first novel is truly dreck. Writing novels is like making pancakes …you should almost always ditch the first one (though I have a friend who suggests, tongue-in-cheek, that children should be handled the same way). So I am technically querying my second novel. The first one should never see the light of day.
I went through writersmarket.com and pulled up twenty-five agents who were accepting new authors and worked with fantasy/urban fantasy. Cue query letter round one, then round two. I make changes when a personal note comes through like, “I just didn’t connect with the story.” I’m totally down with that. I appreciate the helpful nature of such comments.
I’m up to, I think, seven rejections right now. Three more and I get a prize. The prize is…dinner with my friend R to celebrate that at least I’m getting it out there.
So far, about half of the replies have been form rejections. My favorite one didn’t even bother to put my name in there: “Dear Author…(form rejection.” On some level, I get it. Agents get 500 submissions a week, 499 of them are drivel, blah blah blah. You can’t even put my name at the top of the form rejection? You must be REALLY busy and I probably don’t want to work with an agency that is THAT busy.
There are two angels on my shoulder right now. One keeps reminding me that this guy I went to college with is currently getting all kinds of press about his second novel. He’s my age. Married. Has two kids. HE can turn out two publishable books. Why can’t I? Also, I just had a birthday and I’m like, “Crap. My age of youthful literary genius is GONE. Now I can only hope for “LATE BLOOMING GENIUS” status. Crap crap crap.”
The other angel keeps reminding me that one of my favorite authors spent two years getting his first book published. (Although…he ended up meeting one of his inspiration authors who introduced him to her agent and they went to lunch tra la la and thirteen books later….) Anyway, two years. That’s a lot.
I continue to polish the query. I’ve started a second (third) novel in a different vein from the others which keeps me busy because I could twiddle the other one to death – keep tweaking until I can tweak no more and it’s no longer the same story.
I don’t know why people have such a romantic idea of writers. Honestly. It’s hard work. Competition is deadly. Waiting is necessary but frustrating. I’m doing this because I believe in my little story, and also I believe in books in whatever form they may take. This is how I want my story to go into the world, sherpa’d by an agent. But it’s like convincing someone that your baby should also be their baby and they should take on the care and feeding of your baby AND make sure your baby wins all the baby pageants, even if it has to wear fake eyelashes and plastic teeth.
I might have carried that analogy too far but I sense you will understand.