Getting an Agent

On replying to another writer on this subject … I am not at the same level of success here – my first book was a POD print version and the second book an e-book, there is so much familiar here. A friendly local writer told me once at an event, “You need an agent.” And while I walked away I knew I had tried and vowed to keep trying. That’s because I have four binders. Two are “editor campaigns” and two are “agent campaigns.” In the front pages of each are older printouts and lists from past editors and agents sent to in the 1990s. The newer lists are there, but divided by which book was being pitched. I usually sent out several mailings in groups of thirty editors or thirty agents. What I realized through the years, was that there were just as many flaky agents out there as the number of flaky writers. And though that is an unkind simplification, we know it’s a tough business, some well-justified and well-meaning agents can’t hang in there. Snail mail returns with stamped across the envelope, “Addressee Not Known” or “Not at this address” speaks for itself. Nothing was more frustrating than getting a response that stated “no longer accepting” and “not looking for fiction” – this after double checking the guidelines prior to sending. More than once, I was on the phone stating that the agency guidelines states otherwise, and asking, “Why wasn’t that guideline updated in a timely manner?” And maybe I’m just another flaky writer out there. Even through all that, the second book began to get more replies on the rejections with critiques, what was liked, what was needed, and these were, I realized, signs that what I was sending was better written. These were from some editors too, small presses and medium presses who were accepting un-agented manuscripts. And it may be true the “catch 22” thing, “that you need and agent to get a publisher, and you need a publishing history to get an agent.” I think the most snobbish thing from the big houses is the notion that they need the agents “to vet” the writers for them. And maybe they do. I had heard that directly at a writer’s conference. That same agent told me to send to his editor. That was a “requested work.” On complying and sending, I had no reply…. ever, neither from follow-ups nor calls. Crazy business.

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