Monday, April 24, 2017

Being skilled doesn't mean you'll get an agent, but it helps

One of the most important things I’ve learned about writing since I released a book with Curiosity Quills, is that Publishing is subjective.

When I queried the book that became Acne, Asthma, And Other Signs You Might Be Half Dragon, agents said they loved it, just not enough to represent it. As time went on I came to learn that there was a book very similar to mine that apparently flopped, and so my book was relegated to the back burners for a ton of agents because of a business happening.

At the time, what I thought was that all these agents were being nice. The invitations to sub again with a new project? Just politeness.

I had come to equate skill in writing with getting an agent. To a certain extent, that’s true. If the writing is really terrible, it’s very unlikely to be the one that lands an agent. On the other hand, even if your writing is spectacular and impeccable, if there’s something fundamentally not matched to the agent, or your story is in the unsalable category, it’s very unlikely to be something agents are after.

From the writer’s side, there’s a feeling that if my book is just good enough (great even), then I will have crossed that magic threshold of skill and be on to the realm of agent land, and it’s just not true. I really wish I had understood this earlier in my writing, and, to be honest, I still suffer a bit from this misconception. But today I’m here to remind all my writer friends that there’s something else, something more than skill when it comes to finding an agent. It's fit. It's passion. It's all the things you have about your book, the untranslatable bits that make you love it. If your agent doesn't have those feels too, it's not going to work. And I've seen enough writers part with their agents to know that process isn't always a walk in the park, but it's often a hit to the self confidence. They tell me it's worth waiting for the right one. 


What do you guys think? Do you feel like rejection is an indication of low skill and quality?

6 comments:

  1. I see getting an agent as being a fluke, in a way - the right place at the right time with the right manuscript while the agent is in the right mood to enjoy it. No wonder it's so hard!

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    1. I like thinking of it this way, and to be honest, this is what I use to sort of make myself feel better because I know that I have a weird set of tastes. I enjoy odd things, so it makes sense that I would have a hard time getting past the "this is great work, but I don't love it" hurdle.

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  2. I often think of myself when I go into a book store to choose a book- I look them over and find lots that intrigue me, but I'm only walking out of the store with one. And I choose that one based on what suits my taste and my mood at the time. That doesn't mean the rest of the books suck.

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    1. I love the bookstore analogy, except I never just buy one book. Still, it holds water because, yeah, I don't come home with armfuls of books.

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  3. Of course it FEELS like an indication of low skill and quality. And sometimes it is, but I liken it to eating cake. An agent might eat the BEST carrot cake ever. They can tell it's well made and they enjoy it. But if their bakery mostly sells chocolate cake, or there are a lot of really good carrot cakes available right now, they probably won't buy your recipe.

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    1. Oh, I like this analogy too! Also, now I think I need some cake!

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