Thursday, May 15, 2008

Why I'd Like to Stop Reading Agent Blogs (and Why I Won't)

(The second part to this can be found here.)

This morning the sun is shining, the birds are LOUDLY singing, the sky is clear and deep blue, and one would never know the past few days of weather ever happened (well, except for the mess it left behind). David Cook and David Archuletta are the finalists on American Idol. Spencer and Heidi are back together. Our economic stimulus check is in the bank. All is well with the world.

You know.... except for the fires, earthquakes, cyclones, wars, and poverty. But other than that...

I've had less time than normal to catch up with blogs recently, but yesterday I tried to hit all my favorites and was dismayed by the BookEnds blog. More specifically with the comments. In her generosity, Jessica gave writers a chance to vent about the publishing industry, and agents in particular. Is there anything more depressing to a writer than seeing all the things that can and do go wrong, all the bad agents and horrible experiences, all in one place?

It's particularly distressing to hear how many people have agents, even ones considered top in the industry, that are lousy at doing their jobs. There seem to be an inordinate number of authors who have an agent but can't get their agent to submit their work. There are lots of authors who have an agent who submits their work, but can't get any interest. There are lots of authors who have an agent who don't ever hear from them. I mean, NEVER.

If this were the only post I'd read on this, I'd be merely disturbed and puzzled, but this is not the first. The more blogs I read, the more I realize how frustrating this business is, not just the first few steps, but the entire process.

I am usually a glass-half-full kind of gal. But this.... well this is depressing. The mountain in front of me continues to grow larger and larger, a veritable Mount Everest looming with many bodies scattered along the wayside, and very few, select triumphant summits.

I started exploring the agent blogs as a way to be informed, to have a head start, and to avoid the pitfalls that would bring immediate rejection. Now, I am more often discouraged. I'd like to stop reading them and put my head in the sand (preferably white, soft sand, somewhere very warm, with clear aqua water close by). I'd like to say I am just going to focus on writing and leave the rest to fate.

But what if I miss something important? What if I miss the news that now agents really do prefer queries on pink paper, and they love hypothetical questions in them? What if there is suddenly a urgent need for exactly the kind of book I am writing? What if a new agent opens shop and is practically begging for new clients? What if the entire publishing industry says, "No more first person! No more present tense!"? What if Nathan Bransford continues to write really funny post that make me laugh, and I miss them?

I want to stop reading them. Really I do. They are like drugs: you know they are bad for you but you still hope to get something amazing from them, so you keep doing it.


  1. Heidi, I was just thinking this today...and I think my Buddhism direction in the thought process might help you as well.

    We decide how we want to react to these things. Of course the situation is handed to us, and of course most things in it will be out of our control.

    I truly think that what is meant to be will happen. Who knows if they have to take that path for a reason? Or the rejection they got, or bad experience they had, was also for a reason? I think it's hard to say, and of course you can argue it many ways.

    But my thought is this: I will continue to read the blogs. Their situation is not my situation. I can learn from theirs, and make my own decision as to how I will handle myself. There is valuable information there, as you say.

    Stay positive. I believe in you.


    (And thus ends my rather buddhist-y post today.)

  2. JKB - Your Buddhist view isn't that different from my Christian view, that God has a will for me, and that what He wants to accomplish will be.

    And I'm okay with that, even if it means not being published. If it's the process that is important in my life I'm content to learn and grow from it.

    At least this is what I keep telling myself!

    There is an element of talent, in this business, and an element of luck and good fortune (or God's grace), and an element of hard work. Many writers have one but not the others. It takes all three to some extent.

    In the heat of the post I was discouraged by the sheer volume of misfortune. Or maybe that's all I focused on, because there was a lot of complaining about queries, and I frankly don't get too spun up about that. I think it's rude not to reply, but I understand it happens, and I certainly don't expect someone to spend time to write out why they are rejecting someone, so I glossed over all of those comments with a slight shrug.

    Staying positive in the face of such odds is difficult for me, and because I see people spending years and years chasing after a dream they really don't have the talent for. I don't want to waste the time I have. I want to make the most of life.

    I am writing now because I love it, because I have hopes that I can make a difference through my writing, and because I have hope I will someday be published. If I get to the point of resenting the industry and the people in it, and feeling bitter, I will find something better to do.

    Time is short. It is precious. It is too short and precious to be spent complaining about things we have no control over.

    Thanks for your encouragement. I'm looking forward to hearing how your rewrite went, and the querying process goes for you.