First, Happy Mother’s Day! I have one child, with no plans for anymore, and I often wonder how I sometimes get through the day, never mind moms with multiples. Let’s forgo today’s coffee in favor of a mimosa…or whatever the hell you want.
Second, this blog is simply to update on Ruth, my novel.
After a few online conversations with published authors, and reading a few of their blogs on the subject, I find myself leaning more and more towards the idea of self-publishing in the digital market. Pursuing the traditional route of agent representation has proven unfruitful.
I actually read an article written by an agent that likened the perfect query to a movie trailer – A MOVIE TRAILER. Never mind that novels and movies are two entirely different mediums, but hey, forget all that. And forget the agent’s rather poor analogy (irony much?). Forget the agent actually suggested that all enquirers should forget about their themes. She’s tired of themes! she cried. She wants to be moved, she declared. She wants her breath taken away by an adventure.
That advice article only confirmed my worst fears, an agent’s decision comes down to personal feeling. That could mean anything from a professionally developed feeling to a general, ‘damn, I stubbed my toe and now I’m in a bad mood,’ kind of feeling. An unknown enquirer is subject to the feelings and moods of an unknown agent. I don’t know how developed these agents are, if they can separate their personal reading interests from having a critical and analytical point-of-view. This new manuscript may not make you, the agent, weep with joy but perhaps you could see how others would. Just because you, the agent, can’t personally identify with the protagonist in a new story doesn’t mean others could not.
I understood agents were meant to be trained to find the different, the unique, a new style of quality in an unknown writer. You’d think the thought process might be more like, ‘You know what? It’s not perfect but that’s what our in-house editors are (I am) for. I could nurture this client. I will not let this writer fall into the hands of Amazon. I’m taking this writer on.’
This business is stacked the wrong way and it sucks. You’d think an agent’s spidey-senses would kick off by something different, but instead, I’m left with a vision of a faceless agent groaning at receiving yet another not fantastical, whimsical, YA/SF/FF, sexily-written, perfect package of a manuscript; i.e. a movie trailer.
Publishing is such a strange and ever shifting creature, I believe my direction in the digital market is the correct one.
Cynicism? You bet. Justified? You bet. After my meager 38 queries, I learned a few things. I learned that when I crafted a query, synopsis, and my sample pages (and this took hours, btw) and then I submitted my work only to receive an automatic rejection by an agency’s automated software program, that I indeed wasted hours of work. I’m guessing, but if you’ve ever encountered this before, it’s likely because you checked off the box “unpublished” when you submitted. There’s a right little fuck you to new authors, isn’t it?
I’ve also learned that when an agent writes a profile indicating what genres they are most interested in reading, it’s actually bullshit. It made no difference how well I matched my query to the agent, I was met with a standard message, “Your work does not fit my interest.” Well actually, I disagree, I wouldn’t have contacted you otherwise. It’s a standard message that’s meant to be a generic fits-the-bill rejection letter. Such a non-helpful reply is only insulting as its written from the point of view that I, the enquirer, failed to take notice of the agent’s reading interests.
So…the new plans for Ruth.
My manuscript is a behemoth, I know this. I was advised, and not by an agent but by an author, to cut it down. He started out large too, he said, and finally he got real, practical advice from other authors. No agent anywhere wants to handle a giant of a novel from an unknown like me. Okay, got it. I wish someone, like an agent for instance, had the balls to speak up earlier instead of going on and on about how an agent may not read my query, but advised that I spend as much time as possible making each one perfect. But agents have to push that antiquated advice, don’t they? They have to justify their existence at work, ‘Hey boss, I got like, 20 queries today. Good thing you hired me, right?’
Beginning this fall, Ruth is gonna take some cuts. Heavy cuts. Then I’m going to hire an editor to polish off what I don’t know how to do. I know my limits. Then I will pursue digital publishing.
Finally, I have prepped the old idea board for a children’s book. As a lifelong citizen to the State of Anxiety (since childhood), and raising a child that has anxiety issues herself, I thought it might be a good thing to tackle the topic. It seems a subject that is sorely lacking for young kids. I see children’s books about “worry,” which, true enough, is normal to the human existence. But anxiety? Not so much. I’m really looking forward to taking that project on.