Wednesday, November 28, 2012

On Writing: High Reps, Low Weight and Agent Queries

For about a month after New Year’s Day, the gym is packed with well-intentioned people using every machine in sight to fulfill their resolutions to lose weight and get healthy.  But wait a minute, gym-savvy folk know, and it will change.  By mid-Feburary most of the temporary health nuts will be back on their couches, beer and nachos in hand, and it will be safe for the rest of us to go to the gym again.
I suspect that something similar happens at the offices of literary agents around the country.  I reckon that many folks resolve that THIS is going to be the year they do something with the book they’ve been tinkering with for umpteen whatevers. Up comes the browser, there goes the Google search, and *BAM* agents queried
I further reckon that, in wake of the NaNoWriMo frenzy and a few weeks of December editing, lots of folks — still flushed from writing their asses off — send their half-cooked books out.  Some of them may be great, but I’m betting many just aren’t ready for prime-time.  I know mine haven’t been.
Add the Christmas backlog and the start of a new year to the mix, and I’d bet a postage stamp that early January would be a bad time to send out a query.  It would probably be easy to get lost in the shuffle, your much-labored-over masterpiece overlooked in the sea of confessional-sparkling-steampunk-mermaid/zombie-bondage romances. (Not that there’s anything wrong with confessional-sparkling-steampunk-mermaid/zombie bondage romances. Personally, I love them.)
But that’s not why I started querying this week, nor did I start because I like to imagine happy literary agents munching on turkey sandwiches and leftover pie as my book slides into their in-boxes.
“More pie?”
“Sure! And how ‘bout this book?!”
I started querying because, knock on wood, I think the manuscript for Leaving Home just might be ready. The thing is at or about draft four, peer-reviewed and mother-approved. So, ninety-seven thousand words and two years since I started pecking at it, it’s headed out the door, shaking its cute little butt, and looking for love. I’ll send it out a couple of times a week, probably taking a break for Christmas and January.
It will get rejections, sure, and each one will sting like a paper cut. Likely these rejections will wound more deeply than the ones I’ve received for short stories, because, you know, this is the BOOK.  The THESIS. The THING. The SHOT. The BIG ONE.
Or at least the first big one, because meantime I’m writing a novella, working on a short-story collection, and thinking about the next project.  I’ll keep moving, keep writing, keep sweating (so they can’t see the tears) . Maybe this time I’ll keep the weight off and become a lean, mean, resolute word machine.
I’ll see you at the gym.  I’ll bring the nachos if you pick up a six-pack on the way.


  1. Go Rob! I'm excited for you and wishing you much success so you can teach the rest of us how to navigate this process.

    1. Thanks, Suz. I'll let you know if I get any love.