You spend months, years, maybe even decades, pouring your heart and soul into writing a novel. After which you find someone to help you sell it. The publishing industry is set up such that the "someone," or agent, is the gate keeper to getting published and in most cases, you don't have access to a publisher without one.
So you seduce.
You tailor a masterful query letter or pitch, do your greatest "like me and my book" jig, and hope that an agent "falls in love" with your book enough that they can passionately help you sell it.
The process makes sense.
I mean, just think about it, how many frustrated artists have you encountered in your lifetime? If everyone had carte blanche access to the poor editors over at one of the big six, those guys would be digging their way through pages and pages of manuscripts on their way into their offices each morning.
And so many writer's hopes and dreams rest on the tastes of an agent (or agents). It's daunting. The day before the Pitch Slam at this year's Writer's Digest Conference East, Chuck Sambuchino did a seminar on tailoring the perfect pitch. It was great. But one of the very last tips he gave us was, don't touch the agents. I found myself giving the people around me my native New Yorker side-eye and wondering, "Did some of you come here to touch agents? Why on earth..."
Do some agents see aspiring writers as total creepers?
Fellow writers, I get it. Sometimes your hopes and dreams are woven between each word of your manuscript. Your work has a pulse. It's your pulse. It's your words, your heart beat, bleeding on a blank page. Okay, I'm starting to sound like Leona Lewis. But really, it could have been the toughest most amazing, exhilarating, rewarding thing you have ever accomplished and setting it out to be judged is like putting your kid on a pedestal in Times Square and saying, "Scale of 1-10, how cute is he?"
But as a sister in the business of representation (although lawyers are not nearly as popular), I have to constantly remind myself that agents... editors... they are all human. They laugh, cry and poop just like the rest of us and though they have an amazing expertise and access to resources that we can benefit from,WE are still writers and NO ONE can take that away from us.
I had the privilege of having a conversation with an editor the other day that reminded me to keep writing. Something so simple, I know, but I really needed to hear it. He said don't get stuck on your first book hitting the Powerball of deals, hone your craft, and keep writing. Because... let's face it... that's what we call ourselves, right?
So keep writing, guys. And Agents, crack a smile sometimes. We aren't (all) creepers :-).
Love and Light,