Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Grain of Sand in a Crowded Pool

In the current (July/August 2012) Poets & Writers is a good article on the daily life of an agent. Before we take each rejection too personally, it’s heartening and disheartening at the same time to learn we have a one in 11,000 chance of getting representation. Even if the agent loves your work, there is no guarantee he or she can sell it to an editor. While most agents are hungry for new clients, we have to consider reputable agents work on commission (15% of your earnings.) According to Scott Hoffman of Folio Literary Management, “if the book doesn’t sell, the agent doesn’t make a dime.”Agent Michelle Brower states, “every minute [she] spends thinking about a book that won’t sell is a minute she is, in effect, donating to an unpublished author she doesn’t know.”

So it’s not personal. Yet it is.

When Jeff Kleinman, of Folio, read a draft of the Art of Racing in the Rain, he felt a visceral reaction, On the train ride between a trip to Virginia and New York City “I remember I started crying in Pennsylvania…by the time I finished the book I was weeping,” and his hands had gone numb.”

Wouldn’t we all like to have a story like this? Where an agent or editor is emotionally moved by our work?

But even if the agent loves your work, he or she must go through the complex process of first preparing the manuscript for sale. Sometimes this requires major cuts, or revisions of scenes.

Once the mss is ready, next the agent must go through the process of “pitching” a book to an editor.

The odds are against us. I don’t know about you, but I “Don’t Stop believing” as the cast of Glee sings directly to me.

I don’t have an exercise this time. I just got back from a marathon session of scoring nearly 1500 AP essays, so my brain is empty. Instead, here is a book recommendation:
Walking on Alligators: a Book of Meditations for Writers by Susan Shaughnessy. Each page contains a quote, and some motivation to keep writing.

Happy Writing.