I have slowly but surely been peddling my book to various literary agents across the US and world. Every week, I send out my query letter and whatever amount of the book they are asking to see in their submission guidelines. So far, I have only done so with the first book and not the second. I am hoping soon to remedy this, but for the time being, it is what it is.
I am discovering that the literary world is very difficult to break into. I guess I could liken it to what friends in acting have said: You go to audition after audition, hoping and praying that you will finally be what they are looking for, but knowing it is akin to a once in a million break. It was never “easy” to get published, but since the advent and take off of self-publishing, it has gotten close to impossible. Some statistics have said that one is more likely to be struck by lightning than to be traditionally published in this day and age. But, I do live in Georgia and there is a lightning storm going on as I speak, so I will take it as a sign to keep on plugging.
Everywhere I have looked in my research about how to obtain a literary agent, it all states that just like any interview, it helps greatly to have a “in” with someone whom the agent already represents, like a recommendation. It makes sense, I guess, in that if someone who is already published likes what someone wrote, it seems like it is less of a risk. The hard part is finding someone who is already published who would be willing to “introduce” me to their agent. It isn’t that they aren’t willing; it is that I don’t know very many people who are published. In fact, I know no one directly, and only have a loose connection through friends to a few others. It is definitely not a situation where I am comfortable asking them to present me to the person who guarantees their bread and butter.
I got a rejection today from a small press that does their own publishing. It was my nicest rejection yet: Many of the literary agents don’t even ever respond. They said that my book “sounded intriguing, but was not what they were looking for at the present time.” I knew this publisher was a long shot, as they clearly state on their website that they only publish a few books a year, but it was still nice to hear that even though it wasn’t right for them, they seemed to like the premise of my story.
I am still considering self-publishing, though I have my reasons for not going that route as of yet. I actually have been accepted by a hybrid publisher, but that isn’t really an option at this point, either. But, it did bolster my confidence enormously when they said that their editors had read both of my books and loved them.
Meanwhile, more friends and acquaintances have read them and are giving me good reviews. The best part is that they are being honest: They are telling me what works and what doesn’t for them and I appreciate their candor. I know that their constructive criticisms are not to tear me down, but to ensure that I have the best product out there to try and sell. Because at the end of the day, that it exactly what I am doing: I am an artist who is trying to sell my work for a profit.
I have just sent out another big wave of queries and hope to hear something soon. As I wait, I continue to write my third book and I am pleased with its progression thus far. But, for me, this is not just about selling something. It is about expressing myself and giving my emotions a voice. So, honestly, if I can find someone who wants to invest in my creations, great. If not, that’s okay, too. I am ultimately doing this for me.