A couple months ago, when I started going through my novel manuscript for one final edit, I promised myself that when I was one month away from completion, I’d start my agent search process again. This morning, I reached page 177 of 430. That’s 41% of the way through. (Yeah, I just did the math.) I can’t put it off much longer.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the publishing world, if you dream of having your novel published by a mainstream publisher so that it will be sold in places like Barnes & Nobel and read by the general public, you have to get a literary agent to represent you first. Many of the editors at the big publishing houses will not even read a submission from an un-agented newbie.
So you have to send queries to literary agents and ask them to represent you. Sounds reasonable, right? Except it’s crazy-competitive. I’ve read statistics that say most reputable literary agents receive around 1000 queries a month. And they might be looking to represent one to three new authors a year. (Your turn to do the math.)
The literary agents are so busy that you often have to wait six or eight weeks to hear back. And it’s usually a form rejection letter. You read the polite words that say your work is not a good fit for their agency, and you know it really means, “YOU SUCK!!!! YOU CAN’T WRITE!!! GET A LIFE!!!” My worst rejection letter ever, back before all this was done by email, was my own cover letter, returned with a big red stamp across it that said “REJECTED.” And I’m supposed to keep writing after that? Keep trying? Keep putting my artistic babies out there for the world to eat up and spit out?
Sometimes, once in a while, you get a request back to read the first 50 pages, or maybe the whole manuscript. Then you wait even longer before you get that rejection letter, and it hurts even more because they’re rejecting the real thing, not just the summary of your novel that went in to the original query letter. And once in an even longer while, the agent writes a personal letter and tells you your manuscript is definitely publishable quality, but the market is saturated with that type of books right now. (I submitted a young adult fantasy right at the beginning of the Harry Potter era).
I DON’T WANT TO FACE THIS AGAIN!!!!!!!! It hurts too much. It makes me doubt my inner artist. It makes me feel like shit.
I’m stalling. I can feel myself avoiding.
I want to summon up the courage. I need to, if the dream is going to come true. But right now, at this moment, I’m not sure I can.