If you think writing a novel is hard, trying to find an agent to represent you is a nightmare. I started by googling how to find an agent. Writer’s Digest has a list of agents who are currently accepting new clients. View here. New Literary Agency Alerts. I contacted the agents on the list who represented my genre. Speaking of genres, this is another area that’s exasperating. I still don’t know if my story’s genre is fantasy, magical realism, women’s, etc. I researched the definitions and decided my story was magical realism, but one agent said no, it’s fantasy. Sigh.
It’s Just Business
Anyway, Writer’s Digest led to Query Tracker, which comprehensively list agents here and abroad. Many agents require you to use Query Tracker’s submission form. Naively, I then contacted fantasy and sub-fantasy genre agents. Welp, about 60 agents in, I’m still without representation. I got close when an agent asked for my full manuscript. Alas, she ultimately declined representation because “I’m not the right fit for her“. Yup, the dreaded words you will read often. Hmm, I wonder what they really mean? I suppose it’s kinder than saying your story sucked, or you’re high if you think I can get this crap published for you. I knew to expect multiple rejections. However, it’s a bit tiresome when agents constantly send canned rejections of, “I’m sorry, but this isn’t the right fit for me, I just didn’t warm up to the story, the story wasn’t what I expected, etc.”
I even submitted my query to an agent who represents an author whose work my novel definitely resembles. The agent said my story wasn’t his genre. What??? I remember thinking, how can that be? You represent this writer. My story is similar. The only difference is my characters are predominantly Black. Meanwhile, I struggled to get anyone to read my manuscript. Thank goodness for sisters. She reads my writing and constantly offers input. When I asked others, their replies ranged from, “Sorry, that’s not my genre” to “It’ll give me nightmares”. Another sigh.
You Can Do It!
It’s frustrating but I’m weathering on. Agents represent authors whom they feel are the right fit for them or whose stories move them. We can’t take their rejections personally and must realize this business is very subjective. You can’t make someone like what you’ve written. All you can do is write the best story you can and believe there is an audience out there for your work and there is an agent that gets you and your story. I’m sure we’ve all read books where we have wondered, how on earth did this get published? Take heart. That person got published, you can get be published, too.
You just have to persevere and look at alternative ways to get your work out there. Reedsy published an excellent blog on self-publishing versus traditional publishing. Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing: Which Is Better? To be continued…