I’ve just finished a novel that I like a lot. Edith! Finished!
This morning I found myself copying down information on fourteen agents who say they are looking for fiction. Already. I have begun the mental process of composing the hook of the first line of the query letters I will send out. Edith, a disappointed old woman, doesn’t much care that her husband of forty-seven years is laying dead next to her. Her mind is on the Christmas strata she’s to bake in an hour or so. Too long? Too depressing? Not appealing to anyone except maybe other cranky old women? Try again.
This research, mulling, word crunching is not an unknown activity to me. I’ve sent out hundreds of queries in the past. And received hundreds of rejections which were stuck in a desk drawer until I realized how much negative energy I was absorbing from them, coupled with the anxious weeks of silence that followed my electronic submissions. I’m not sure why I’m thinking of trying one more time to find an agent. Perhaps I just need the ego-boost an acceptance would bring. Or perhaps I remember the several lonely year-long efforts I’ve plowed through to sell my books. Or maybe I’m looking for a knowledgeable hired hand who knows how to find the best publisher for Edith. And once found, it’s possible I would benefit from the publisher’s experts in the design process, in the distribution to bookstores and airport terminals, and even in getting of a newspaper review or two.
All these reasons for sending out query letters ring true as I evaluate them, but one more thought keeps rising unbidden to the surface. “Yes,” I would really like to say. “Yes, I have an agent–she’s terrific!” when friends and fellow writers ask. I know, this is shallow, very shallow, but that is where I am right now, as I shuffle through Agent Query one more time.
But I do wonder. Am I alone in this compulsion? Do any of my other writing acquaintances, mostly self-published like me, ever spend a day wondering what it would be like to have a sympathetic partner, an agent, in this process? If so, what have they done about it? Did they find one? Or did they come to their senses and return to the realities of indie publishing? Will I?