Tis the season for agent hunting. I gots me a gun and am trudging through the vast wilderness that is the Internet, stalking agents like a jealous boyfriend. Dat don't sound right. Part of the process is reading interviews that agents sometimes do, as it may reveal something that could help me make a connection through my query letter. One agent had this to say, "You're writing not to get published. You're writing because you love the act of doing so, and you cannot imagine doing anything else." I love that.
I've heard people describe writing as an incredibly solitary act. Tell that to the voices in my head. If we as writers want to get published, or somehow get our work out there, then we need people. And to lure them into our trap, we need to do some research on how to write a query letter, how to write a synopsis, even how to write a book. Shocking!
I've also heard that writing the book is the easiest part of publishing. I've already gone through a round of rejections about four years ago, so have some idea of the difficulty. And most people don't even know that getting an agent is the first of many steps before a book is even released into the wild.
And every time I visit my brother, he asks me: What's my plan. My response never changes; I shrug my shoulders.
Like so many things in life, hunting in the wild takes a lot of patience, following your intuition, and preparation. If I run into the plains of Africa with my gun, I'll most likely scare away my prey. If I run into those same plains without being prepared, I'll get eaten alive. And if I rely solely on my instruments, then I may blind myself to the real prize.
A friend of mine didn't do any research or get any feedback on her query letter before sending it out. She received her first rejection and sent it to me, and it was obvious why she had been rejected. The premise of her story, as she had presented it, was cliché, an innocent young woman meets a mysterious man. She didn't give away the hook; for example, the lurking overbearing vampire (Twilight), or sex addict deviant (50 Shades of Grey). I've not read my friend's book, she may be afraid of my honest feedback and it may not help in the end, but she relied on her "intuition" alone to write both her book and query letter.
It just doesn't work that way.
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I don't care how wise a person is, I ain't lettin' anyone perform open heart surgery on me unless they know what they're doin'. But that doesn't mean that the most qualified doctor has all the answers. Many alternative and new treatments are being worked on every day. So doing at least some research is always a good idea, take in what you learn, then let that inner part of you create, or help make your choice.
And this is the hardest part of all, I think. It's trusting that somehow everything will work out, something that my brother doesn't understand.
A couple weeks ago, I went to a party at some remote place where the bus only showed up once an hour. I use public transportation as much as possible. But by the time I realized the last bus back had left, I was having too much fun, I was stuck without a ride back to BART.
I didn't consciously say everything will work out, but I tend to live my life this way. After walking around the hotel where the party was held, I found an hourly shuttle that went to the San Francisco Airport, a BART stop. Had I panicked and yelled and cried and complained and pounded my fists, I might not have found my way home, or at the least, made the whole process difficult.
So when agent hunting, I can only do my best with what I know and learn and query these elusive creatures, and if I'm able to bait one in and form a great relationship, then great. If not, great. Either way, I'll trudge on.
All of life is a long road. We can't see more than a few hundred feet, even less in the jungle, but the only way to reveal more of the road is to just keep going. Sometimes the road ends quickly. Others will lead us for the long haul. All we can do is find our passions and follow them until it takes us to where we need to be.