You know the saying ‘The kettle never boils when you look at it’ well it does but it seems to take forever doesn’t it? That’s how I look at agent submissions.
Thanks to Susan Blakely for asking the question that prompted this post. This is how I approach submitting my work:
Take the time to look for agents that suit your genre. This is key to start, otherwise you may submit to a handful of agents when only one of them is even slightly interested in your chosen genre. I subscribe to Agent Hunter but there are other directories out there. Subscribing to a directory means in some cases you get a detailed profile of an agent; their likes and dislikes, what they will consider, what you should and shouldn’t do etc…make sure you visit the company website too. It’s imperative that you stick to their submission guidelines. If they ask for three chapters then send three chapters. Don’t pick three from the middle either! This sounds like a no-brainer but actually a lot of writers do this if they want the agent to get some of the meatier chapters. Don’t do this…under any circumstances. This is just one good reason for them not to consider you. You didn’t care to do as they asked. Most decent agents get maybe one hundred or more submissions per month. Don’t give them a reason not to read yours because you’ve pissed them off!
Some agents want a two page synopsis and some one, some lovely understanding types might accept three pages. Summing your story up in one page is near impossible to my mind. Send a covering letter always. Keep it short and don’t try and make it personal.
Okay, so that’s the practical stuff we all have to do. Here’s a bit of advice on how to make it easier:
Try not to stress about it. Don’t get all Oh my God this is my last hope, if I don’t become a writer in the next six months my life is over – You’ll just get all hung up on the outcome. You’ll wait for an email or a call, think about it all the time and start thinking maybe you’re not good enough after all.
Send your work off, know that it’s as good as it can possibly be then hit send and forget about it. Yep, really, just forget all about that one and move onto the next. Hit send, forget, hit send, forget….you get the picture. That’s where not observing comes into it. Have you ever noticed that when your desperate for something it never comes, then as soon as you forget all about it there it is? You see, I have a bit of a theory about that but I won’t go into it because you’ll think I’m nuts. Well I am a bit but it works for me.
The right agent is out there just waiting for you. Believe that and with every rejection you can just think Oh well, it’s not that one then.
Try and be happy with what you have right now and don’t look at getting an agent as the be all and end all because every rejection will get to you and you’ll probably end up giving it all up in favour of something less soul destroying like knitting or baking. Let’s face it, none of us likes rejection, we take it personally even when we’re told not to because to us it is personal. When someone tells you not to take offence but… it’s because they’re about to offend you and when someone rejects you or tells you something you don’t want to hear and then tells you not to take it personally it’s too late because you already have. The thing is to them it isn’t personal. We just get hung up on it being all about us and how terribly rubbish we are when really we’re nothing of the sort. We’re just not the right one for them right now. Just think of it like this: They’ll regret it when you’re on the red carpet with Jude Law because your book was turned into a film and some other agent is raking in the commission!
I am in a bit of a quandary myself right now as I have just finished the first draft of this novel but also have another finished manuscript that has potential (so I’ve been informed) I’ve added a couple of chapters, one to the beginning and one to the end since my last submission and I am tempted to submit both novels. This one is more women’s fiction and the other I guess is more chick lit. It’s not easy to get some agents to consider chick lit so it’s a tougher sell and there’s a lot of competition. I’ll keep you posted…
If you really can’t take rejection then you might consider self-publishing. Either way at some point you’re going to get some negative feedback from readers so you’re going to have to develop a thicker skin. Not everyone is going to like your style. Writing styles and stories are subjective, much like music. Not everyone will like your book but who cares about them because lots more will love it. Look at all the criticism Fifty Shades Of Grey writer E. L. James took. She’s tough, she took it then ignored it. That’s what we all must do. When you get your first rejection be proud of it because it means you’ve started on the road to becoming an author. When you are published you can tell aspiring writers that even you had plenty of rejections before you were published and they’ll be amazed and inspired because you’re a respected writer now so if you can take a not this time thanks then so can they.
If you think your novel is good then the chances are that someone else will too.