Thursday, January 21, 2010

After Five Long Months...

I began this blog and my Quest For a Literary Agent (QFLATM) back on August 21, 2009 -- five months ago. It was warm and summery then, cold and wintry now. Venting frustration at this lengthy process back in September, I think it was, I asked plaintively whether I'd have any idea if I had a future as a writer by Christmas.

Ha. That was a good one.

More has changed in that time since the weather, certainly. The naive enthusiasm with which I began -- My book's different. It's not going to take endless months to find a home. -- has been replaced by a cold, forbidding realization that, yes, it's going to take a lot of time to find a home for my little novel -- and it may very well never find one. It may well just wander for years, Hansel- and Gretel-like, in the spooky forest that is the Land of Publishing.

I've taken to telling my friends that I'm more convinced than ever that my book will never be published. It's neither fish nor fowl; not a straightforward mystery nor brilliant enough in a literary way to break through preconceived notions of genre. The publishing industry is recession-wracked and scared witless and editors are interested only in blockbusters and celebrity tell-alls.

I don't know who I'm trying to convince -- them or myself.

Now, some things have gone OK, though not without passages here and there through rocky terrain. The success rate of my query is around 10 percent, somewhat higher if you don't count the agents I've queried but have not heard from. I understand that to be a decent percentage. (Though who knows, really? I mean, has someone done a study of this?) The four submissions I still have out there -- two partials, two fulls -- represent 40 percent of all the submissions I've made. Still, that seems a lot of querying just to get ten people to take a gander at the manuscript.

I started off being frustrated by the slow-pokey attitudes of the publishing industry, moved on to frustration over those agents who don't bother to respond, and am now frustrated by form rejections of partials and fulls.

What will come next, I wonder?

Well, I'm gonna sit down now with a notebook and try to flesh out the exceedingly vague idea -- notion, really -- I have for a follow-on soon as I check to see whether I won the lottery.


  1. "It may well just wander for years, Hansel- and Gretel-like, in the spooky forest that is the Land of Publishing."

    This line is made of awesome.

    And I feel your pain.

  2. Well, I definitely think you should keep writing. I mean, when you do get an agent, you'll want to have a draft of something else almost ready to go -- just in case you do really take off and your audience demands another book from you.

    Wait. Did you mean a follow-up, like a sequel to what you are querying now, or just a follow-up novel, completely seperate?

  3. Well, I'm gonna sit down now with a notebook

    Great move, Trav. I've heard it said by so many people: You've just gotta keep on writing.

  4. While you are waiting for word on the four you have out(and that's huge!), you should start writing something else. Five months is not long, man. Truly it isn't. But I feel your frustration. You have to keep writing if you love writing. They say that the only writers who fail in the end are those who give up.

  5. I just hope that you don't stop blogging once you find said agent and abandon us to solitude. You wouldn't, right?

  6. I'm right there with you, man. Think of it this way, you've got to give your eventual biographer something to work with, right? Can't just be all success and rewards. That doesn't make for a very dramatic tale of triumph at all. Write your way out of this funk and go get a big box of patience at Target. It's right next to the fabric softener in ailse 7.