Querying and Agent Hunting

 

I am at a point now with my work where I am researching agents.  I am researching who represents what genre, reading about good books on Amazon represented by successful, available agents. 

I avoided this process at the beginning of my ‘serious’ writing.  

Frankly, I was very, very stupid when I first finished a draft of Into the Arms of Morpheus in the early 2010s.  I nearly got scammed by a fake agency who fed me some bull shit about me having a ‘strong voice’ and if I sent them $2,000 they would work with me and edit my manuscript and for sure my author dreams would come true.  I told people.  I got excited.  Then I decided before sending any money I’d best do at least a bit of research.  I found out that people had been swindled out of money by this agency before.  I felt disappointed, rather pathetic and unbelievably idiotic. 

Of course I’d submitted to proper agencies and they hadn’t responded.  Like, at all.  I do understand why as I know that my manuscript at that time and my querying method…was shit and incorrect.  Oh the shame.

I’m over this of course.   I worked on into the Arms of Morpheus, I sent it back and forth to numerous beta readers, I worked with an editor (who did not charge me ANYTHING like what the bogus company asked and she has worked with me on pretty much every piece of writing I’ve produced since).  I finished it, had it formatted, a cover designed and self published on Amazon. 

Some folks loved it.  They found it dark, moody and atmospheric, they enjoyed reading about lesser known Greek gods with really messed up issues.    Just not enough of those appreciative types have seen it. 

Folks who read it hoping for a hunky Greek god seducing a university student and then the two falling hopelessly in love were sorely disappointed.  I understand.  I don’t mind stories like that.  I just don’t write stories like that.  Greek god gets all loved up and sexy with girl next door.   I prefer tales involving inappropriate, unusual obsession OR slow burning unavoidable magnetic connections between individuals OR the very clever, more subtle side of evil. 

Since Into the Arms of Morpheus, I’ve contributed to a few indie short story collections, all author profits of which went to charity.  I got to work with some pretty great indie writers.  I’ve brought out some short Halloween stories in 2016 and this year.  Initially, to help me along with my writing, I’ve done #NaNoWriMo (twice) and #JuNoWriMo (once), both are worth it if you are struggling to finish a draft.

I currently have a completed, (it’s been through the beta reader process with numerous drafts), and edited novel that I believe has a chance in the traditional world of publishing if I find the right agent.

Regarding my other stuff?  I’ve earned like…less than fifty dollars from my work so far…since 2013.  Sure, most was for charity but sadly I don’t think those collections sold well either.  

Let me be clear, although I would LOVE to earn a living from my writing, that isn’t why I do it.  I do it because I’m good at it and I want to draw people into worlds they’ve never thought about before.  I want to make them stay for a while and although it might be a bit disturbing or strange at times, I want them to come away saying that they liked it and it made them look at something differently.  

I’ve matured and wised up since my rather embarrassing poor judgment.  I am still maturing and wising up.  However, I am still somewhat naïve, a bit too passive for my own good and kind of desperate for recognition.   I’m just not a TOTAL dumbass anymore.  

I’m researching agents, knowing full well I might hear absolutely nothing in response from any.  Knowing full well I have to follow the submission guidelines perfectly, that there is no point submitting to an agent who isn’t into my genre or generally prefers stuff set in Scotland or North Carolina that’s from the perspective of the family dog. 

Knowing full well that not one of these agents is obliged to give one flying crap about my work.    There is a process here, there is protocol and I am learning all about it before I begin to follow it. 

I dig indie writing and the whole phenomenon.  I understand the concept of control over one’s work and the idea to just keep going, keep bringing good work out and promoting the bejaysus out of yourself. There are consistent, niche writers who can flourish in the indie publishing world. 

I have enjoyed so many really good indie books and thought, ‘these should have been traditionally published, they are so good!’.  I’ve read some real crap too, like, embarrassingly poorly edited horribly written crap that gives indie writers a bad name.   Then again, some stuff on best seller lists I’ve been quite unpleasantly surprised by.  Great agents can represent books that aren’t to my taste yet they sell like hotcakes.  Successful indie authors can write books that might have been snapped up by an agent within a week of submission.  

I used to think I was just a ‘niche’ writer.  I don’t think I am anymore.  There’s plenty of quirky, off the wall, genre twisting yet still genre identifiable writing that is represented by good agents. 

However, I’m no salesperson.  I have no contacts in the traditional publishing industry.  I’m not an editor.  I have Masters Degree in English Studies, yet I still get formatting and stupid crap wrong.  I’m a good writer, not a marketing person. 

I’m not all that assertive or particularly logical in real life.  I’m well behaved and polite, but not a particularly good grown up.  I’m still often childish.  I’m a storyteller.  I’m an author. 

And I need an agent, someone to recognize, drive and push me and sell my work.   

So the hunt continues, as does the perfection of my query letter.  The bottom line is, if you even think of pestering these people with e-mails and messages, they will block you.  They have enough to do. 

I suppose, I have to draw an agent the same way I would draw a reader.  In a way, it’s easier as an agent has a vested interest in discovering something good that no one’s seen before. Most readers, aren’t bothered about searching for something a bit different but still really good.  They are guided to the best seller lists that just sort of present themselves via well known book sellers.  Agents have to toil, reading many dull synopses, tossing aside incorrectly submitted queries and those with too much information about the writer’s personal life.  But if you follow the rules, they do have to look.  Readers don’t. 

I just have to do everything correctly, stand out and lure them in.  Easy, right?  Sure. 

By them, I mean someone ethical and qualified to represent my work.  Not one of those many vulture/hack/crooks sniffing around struggling writers trying to tell you they will get you a career doing what you love as long as you give them such and such an amount of money.  Just send the check.  Bah!

Getting an agent does not equal a long and illustrious career as an author.  Not necessarily.  But that, plus the tenacity to keep working and creating interesting, exciting worlds people want to hang out in, does give you a fighting chance.  The world is chock full of decent writers with great potential.  The world only has so many good agents.  And they are really, really freaking busy. 

I might fail miserably.  I have to accept that.  Yet I have to try.  I have to write.  And then somehow, I have to sell my story.  I don’t do it for just me.  I’m isolated enough. 

That is why, I need a champion salesperson. 

Yes, that’s what they are paid to do.  However, they wouldn’t have worked to get into the publishing world ,(a harsh industry from the looks of it and you should read the qualifications and experience of some of these people-jeez!), if they couldn’t care less about books. 

They don’t sell shady prescription drugs, with endless shitty side effects, that should likely be banned.  Or excellent health insurance plans only the wealthy can afford, and crappy exploitive ones for the poor bastards that can afford very little.    They don’t sell slave workers in third world countries.  They don’t sell mobile phone plans to old folks who barely even know how to turn a smart phone on.  They don’t sell endangered species as pets. 

They sell books to the folks who can get them seen AND read. 

I’ll find an agent.  In the proper way, via the appropriate channels, following guidelines, etc.  I won’t query with two from the same agency, I’ll only query those open to my genre. 

All the same.  I’m going to get inside more reader’s heads. 

 

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By jmnauthor3000

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