Thursday, December 1, 2011


In a previous post, I mentioned that I had finished the first pass of Nightmares, and would then be circling back to the beginning to proof, check for logic flaws, etc. I actually finished this effort about two weeks ago, on Friday, 11/18. The final tally was just over 69,000 words, not far off from my estimate of 70,000.

Now begins the arduous process of trying to find an agent. I don't want to come across as negative. It's just that as a writer, I want to write and let someone else handle the "business" end of things, like finding a publisher. That's why you get an agent. If only it weren't so darned hard.

To be honest, I think it's worse than applying for a job. Of  course, if I were out of work and my mortgage depended on finding a job, I might think differently. But since I do have a day job...

My reasons for asserting that an agent search is worse than a job search are:

1. There are so many agents out there. If I were applying for a job, since I have no intention of relocating, the pool of employers is fairly limited. Because of my profession -- information security -- I'm also largely limited to major corporations. But even if I were applying for a job as a writer, with various permutations (newspaper writer, technical writer, book editor) the number of potential companies is still comparably small. In contrast, there are hundreds -- if not thousands -- of literary agents out there. I use the Writers Market website to target my search to what I think are appropriate agents. The problem is, many agents accept clients who write in a variety of genres. So even with tools, the search process is challenging.

2. Every agent wants something different. Some say to send a query only. Some want the query plus the first chapter. Some want the first ten pages. I've even seen one that asked for 50 pages. On the other hand, though I know it's advisable to "tailor" a resume to match what the employer is looking for, it's not as if one says, "Send a one-paragraph summary," another says, "Send a one-page resume," and another says, "Send your resume along with your grade school, high school, and college transcripts."

3. The waiting game. With an employer, it's pretty much a given that their attitude is "Don't call us. We'll call you." Fine. Some agents say the same thing. Fine. But others say, "If you don't hear back in four weeks, please do write back." I appreciate that. It's just a lot to keep track of.

4. Though not very common, some agents say, "No simultaneous submissions." Could you imagine if an employer said the same thing about resumes? "Oh you've applied to corporation X as well? Write back when you're serious about applying for a job with us only."

Oh well.

As I said, I don't want this to come across as sour grapes. In fact, I'm sure the challenges will make me appreciate my agent -- once I find him or her -- all the more.

It's just the "getting there" part...

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