Tuesday, January 15, 2008

In my Next Life

If you could come back as something in your next life, what would it be? A king? A president? The Dali Llama? Yeah, that's all fine and good. But I was thinking of someone with a little more power.

Me, I would come back as a literary agent.

In the slow, agonizing, wait-filled process that is obtaining an agent (if you even get one) I have discovered that they hold all of the power in the universe.

When you start out to find an agent, it is important that you research all the agencies and find the fit that is best for you. Then, within that house, you should seek out the agent most likely to be compatible with your work. After narrowing down the field, you must tailor your individual query to the agent - never send a form letter and do not pepper the industry with letters. They know. Then, sacrifice a lamb, cross your fingers and start on your next book. Because in all likelihood it will take months before you find anything out.

Here is an example of some typical agency submission guidelines for writers:

ACME Literary Agency, LLC

Welcome to the author submissions guidelines for the ACME Literary Agency, LLC. If you do not already have a book on the New York Time's Best Selling List please go away. We don't even like that you're on our website. Be advised that we routinely block the IP address of interlopers.

If you persist in submitting your work, please adhere strictly to the following guidelines or we will simply burn your letter upon receipt. If you err twice within the industry (and we have our methods of obtaining this information), we will hunt you down and burn you.

1. Please submit your 237 word query on 20# stock paper. Of course, we have a strong preference for papyrus or stretched lamb skin. Use only 11.479 font size, Times New Roman Version 9, and 1 " margins. Only letters written in Old English will be considered. If you must, we will on occasion accept Old Frisian. Please query before your query if this is the case, noting that this request must still be in Old English. Some, but not all, of our agents prefer this format. Good luck guessing.

2. List your credentials in order of importance. Please begin with Pulitzer.

3. You must itemize your previous publishing experience in chronological order. Please note that we laugh ourselves silly if you have none. Of course, we're never truly silly, but we will, nonetheless, make sounds that resemble mockery in our offices when reading your pleas for representation. Of course, we don’t really read them. We make our assistants stand on the slush piles and laugh for us.

4. Do not call us. Do not write. Do not even breathe our name aloud until we contact you. We will probably never contact you. Why are you submitting again?

28 comments:

Life As I Know It said...

Frustrating. And yet, I have read so many crappy books and wonder how in the world they got published. I think it's all who you know.
Be persistant...you deserve to be published!

Robin said...

Hang in there Jen, it will happen. You've got a great concept, you just need to find the agent who agrees.

Nancy said...

I concur with life as I know it ... there is so much garbage published, it makes me wonder.

Hold tight my friend. =)

the dragonfly said...

*sigh*

Keep breathing...and keep writing!

Marie said...

Which is why I don't even bother trying to write for publication. Hey, but if you get published, I'll be right there at your door with a manuscript, a pound of Godiva chocolates, and a big goofy smile.

imbeingheldhostage said...

Oh, I don't like this. I have been holding my breath waiting for you to announce that your fifty pages are going to press....
I am still waiting to hear how the girl's parents are going to get back from Australia!

Crystal said...

Don't worry, someday those snotty agency people will work FOR you. They will come begging for you. They will worship you. :)

flutter said...

That is so frustrating, love. I am sorry.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Not a process for the faint of heart. I admire you for taking the first step. How many people think about it, but never do it. You've already accomplished something great.

Lela said...

The right one will come along when it's time. :o)

suburbancorrespondent said...

You brave girl! I'm researching the process myself (for non-fiction) and getting a little fed up. When did you find time to research all these different agents?

Beck said...

You're a terrific writer. One of these days, someone is going to come along with enough sense to recognize that.

dawn224 said...

ugh.

nothing more, just ugh.

theselittlemoments said...

I'm am so behind on your blog and I missed it!

And I'm sorry it's been so frustrating. But the minute it's published I'll be reading it!

jennifer said...

How is it that ANYTHING gets published?! I've read some real crap out there, so it seems that they are shooing away the wrong people!

Family Adventure said...

And yet, people get published all the time. Why shouldn't it be you next? Don't give up!

Heidi

Audubon Ron said...

Jen? Are you saying, like do I have to come back and live this again? I can only hope I’ll be staying in heaven. Look, write this down. When you get up there, meet me at the Coke machine next to St. Peter’s desk. We’ll sneak in to see Mother Teresa who will get us an appointment Mother Mary and who will then get your manuscript blessed. I can’t give anymore details than that. Then you can come down again and try all over, no guarantees, one can only hope.

In the meantime, come over and see my new duck filmage.

pootandcubby said...

Oh, that's so frustrating. What I don't understand is that you need an agent for most publishing houses to even look at your work, but if you can't even get an agent? Ugh. I admire you for your persistence - I've still been too chicken to submit any of my stuff for fear of rejection.

And also? Check out this story - http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/
arts_and_entertainment/books/
article3123455.ece - which I thought was totally inspirational. This woman got rejected so many times, then went on to win a prestigious award.

-andi

Jen M. said...

Sub. Corr - I emailed you with some material recs - hopefully that helps!

Maybe us bloggers should start our own agency - The Bloggers Consortium or something...:)

Anonymous said...

Makes me think of how one of my English professors told Amy Tan she couln't write. (Of course, Amy Tan is mentioned at every possible opportunity in the college's marketing materials.)
I bet Amy Tan is pretty glad she stuck with it, and you will be too. Talent and passion are pretty hard to ignore.
Joanie

Mrs. G. said...

Have you thought about self publishing? There are several success stories. There is more than one way to skin a cat!

Queen of the Mayhem said...

Good luck! I will certainly keep this in mind....if I ever decide to try and print the nonsense of which I usually write! :)

Mary Alice said...

That sounds awful. The age old question, how does one GET experience if they will not hire anyone WITHOUT experience?
How does one get published, if they don't want to talk with you unless you ARE published? They must just sit around snorting long lines of power of their mahagony desks. Hold fast and keep the faith my friend.

Anna said...

It will happen! It will! And they will fall over their slush piles trying to get you to sign!

imbeingheldhostage said...

Ok Jen, at the risk of bordering on idol worship or stalker tendencies, I have put another link to you on my blog-- mostly about your Muddy H2O give away that you had. I hope you don't mind! Your writing DOES have an impact on people, the Publishers just need time to catch on.

wheelsonthebus said...

I just went through this process and it sucks. But, you SHOULD be sending to as many agents as you can find who might suit your work. Don't "pepper" indescriminately, but do keep sending queries (except to the one site I found that only accepts electronic queries but lists no electronic contact info...).

And? Feel free to email me every time you want some support, because I almost became clinically insane through the process.

painted maypole said...

funny, but unfortunately so true.

Captain Backfire said...

Why anyone wouldn't publish you is beyond my capability to understand. Send them this post... it's hysterical.