Time for a rant. Are you ready, boys and girls? Point of order, sir, but this is as much a whine as it is a rant.
Okay, point accepted. I’m full of complaints and do a lot of poor, poor, pity poor me first-world blues rants. This is another. That aside, let’s rant.
I’ve written fifteen novels.
People say, “Fifteen? Really?”
Yes, sure, but that’s a number. There’s a story behind the number. There’s an asterisk beside it.
The first novel, as with many writers, was five-star crap. In the crap world, five-stars means it’s the worse possible crap. There’s no crap that exceeds its crappiness. It was an experience, though, that helped me understand more about my writing process.
Knowing that it needed more attention and focus than I was willing to give it, I printed out the stack, along with editing notes, and put it on disks, and set it aside. Someday, I’ll return to you, I promised it.
“Point of order, sir, but, despite that quantity, maybe you’re not a very good writer.”
Thank you for pointing that out. You’re right. That might be the case. I’m trying to do the best that I can. I keep trying to improve.
“Another point, sir.”
“Isn’t this really about your laziness and unwillingness to learn?”
Excuse me, but who are you? How did you get in here? Out, out, damn you.
Being obstinate, I proceeded to write five more novels. They were probably three-star and four-star crap. I knew where they had problems and what needed to be fixed. I didn’t want to fix them, because I wanted to write more and I didn’t want to bother with editing and revising. I liked writing, not editing and revising. I promised, someday I’ll edit them, but I knew that model a novel and setting it aside for editing and revising at a date TBA was unsustainable.
The next novel that I wrote, I said, “I must edit and revise this one. I need to learn that discipline.”
So, I did it. Yea, me! Sure. I then sought agents. I followed all of their parameters for submitting to them in hopes of persuading them to represent me, find a publisher, and get the novel published.
After almost a year of dealing with that, going through five agents, I hated that process. Maybe, I convinced myself (without too much difficulty), self-publishing is the way to go.
So I did that.
It was another process to learn, with as many obstacles and challenges as Ninja Warrior. Yes, the book was published. Yes, I sold some copies, but not nearly as many as hoped. I knew that I would need to market the book.
Oh, boy, more to learn.
I wanted to write; I didn’t want to learn how to market myself and my wares.
I told myself, someday I will. Then I wrote and self-published three more books, with just as little notice and sales, reminding me again and again, you need to market these books.
Here I am again, this time with a complete series of five novels. Here I am again at the crossroads. Find an agent? Self-publish? Screw it all and just keep writing?
Not wanting to, first, hunt down a cover designer, copy-editor, acquiring an agent drew me. That’s the original dream, to write a novel, find an agent, have the novel published. In a sense, I’m returning home by taking that route.
Yes, I was again easily persuaded because that self-publishing journey had been less than rewarding and satisfying. I’m hoping that this journey will be more so.
I began with the standard search process. Who is out there? What do they want?
Lo, Jane Friedman had a decent article about finding an agent, and pointed toward #MSWL – Manuscript Wish List. That’s helpful, I thought with new gleams of hope.
I have such rose-colored glasses, they should be illegal so that we can all save time and energy.
#MSWL has a search engine. What genre do you want? Put it in. Here’s the results. Wow, pages of results. How exciting.
Not after reading a bit more.
I searched for science-fiction. #MSWL’s search results include whenever science-fiction is mentioned. This includes when agents say, “I don’t want to see any science-fiction.” Ah. That was certainly fucking useful.
I spent hours searching #MSWL and PublishersMarketPlace, seeking someone interested in someone like me. I found some promising folks.
Well, it’s the year’s end. Many of those agents aren’t accepting right now. Check back in a few days, weeks, or months, and then they’ll be happy to see your work.
What agents say they want on their website, in their Twitter blurts, in articles and interviews, and in #MSWL do not align. One will say that they’re looking for SFF or some science-fiction variant while the other locations won’t mention it. Yes, and I understand from my efforts that it’s hard updating everything and every place.
YA seems to remain the hot market, judging from the number of agents hunting for YA manuscripts.
Also clear is that most agents will reply to you if they’re interested. They’ll usually respond in two weeks. However, if they’re not interested, you’re not going to hear back from them. Do not, of course, submit multiple submissions or simultaneous submissions, or anything like that, because that’s not far to them, and please don’t follow-up to see what’s going on with your query. They’re busy, you know.
That was the stake through my heart last time, that one-sided dimension to this whole business. Sipping a glass of medicating wine last night, I reflected that I needed to start #AWL – Author’s Wish Lists. But hell, that’s a short list. We want an agent. We want published. We want a painless process. Who doesn’t? Well, I could stipulate that I want an agent who wants me, that I want an agent who will respond to me to tell me, no, thanks.
Yes, before anyone notifies me of the obvious, that this is a competitive business, and yes, I know how many struggling writers are out there trying to find agents and get published, and, yep, I’m aware that others have gone through this, and that agents have limited resources, so they’re very sorry, but that’s what the situation dictates.
Yes, I know.
My muses are awake. They want to write. Do you see how many stories are out there, waiting to be written?
Rant over. Back to whatever.