I had a pretty bad yesterday. I don’t know if it’s been clear from this blog, but for the past six months I’ve been looking for a new literary agent. Yesterday I decided to push for responses, and I shook loose a few rejections, which never feels good. To be honest, I feel pretty inadequate over the whole agent thing. The last time I looked for an agent, it took two weeks!
I know part of the problem is I’m querying with a literary novel, which is just a harder business. I also have a killer YA proposal (about a trans girl who’s accepted to an all-girl’s school in DC) that would get me an agent in two seconds flat, but then I’d just be in the same place as I was with the last two agents, where they’re not really interested in my writing for adults. On a sidenote, you’re not supposed to talk about your agent search (or really any sort of failures) online, for two reasons:
- Social proof. Agents are salespeople. They want to know the product has value. If other agents are turning it down, they’re liable to think it doesn’t.
- Wariness. Many authors can be quite difficult. I genuinely feel for agents. It cannot be easy to work closely with so many authors. Agents don’t want to be gossiped about online, and they don’t want a client who might bad-mouth them or share details.
When it comes to social proof, my attitude is meh. If I cared about fronting and tying to appear to be a success, I’d live my life totally differently. I also don’t believe in false modesty. I am what I am. I’ve done what I’ve done. An agent has my work in front of them, and they ought to trust their judgement.
The wariness is legit. Author / agent relationships are complicated, and I’d definitely hate if an agent said bad things about me. But ultimately it’s like with any relationship–you’ve just got to trust me to know where the boundaries are. I’ve never said anything, I think, to harm anyone’s professional reputation, and I never intend to.
Anyways, being patient is hard! I’m not good at it! To some extent that’s a strength. I don’t think it makes sense to wait longer than six months for an answer from an agent, for instance. But it also doesn’t make sense to sit anxiously in front of my phone, refreshing my gmail all day.
To that end, I decided on a new initiative. I’ve anyway been meaning to get a new email address to reflect my new name, so I went ahead and did that (naomi dot kanakia at gmail), and that’s now the account linked to my phone and all my devices. My old account, which I’ve been using for upwards of fifteen years, I’ve decided I’ll only check once per day, and only after the end of the New York business day.
I also decided to do the same with Twitter. I hate Twitter. It’s a nightmare wasteland world. But for some reason my wife shares articles with me all day through Twitter DMs (immunologist Twitter is such a better place than author Twitter, you have no idea). So I made a new Twitter account just for her and a few people I know in real life.
Facebook I kept as is. I like Facebook! Facebook has been good to me! Anyway, we’ll see how it goes. I’ll tell you something, when you’re not anxiously refreshing your email or your Twitter, there’s a lot less to do on your phone.
Other than that, let’s see…recently I’ve started doing this thing where I target specific publications to try to get into them. It’s honestly just a way of guiding what I write, sort of providing me with a prompt. The places I want to be in right now are Ellery Queen, Tor.com, and one of the Reviewses of Books. So I’ve got stuff at those places. We’ll see what happens!
Err…I’ve got title concepts for my Cynical Guide to the Publishing Industry. They’re all beautiful–they look like real books, which is all I wanted. I hate when a self-pub cover just doesn’t look like a real book.
And I’ve been pitching my trans woman assassin book to small crime imprints. It’s already out at one! Then of course there’s the aforementioned killer YA proposal, which is with my editor at Harper. So things are happening!
My general air when it comes to writing is one of pessimism. It’s only in very, very rare circumstances that I allow myself to believe something might happen (and even then it usually doesn’t), but I really like having things out there. And somehow, I know not how, I’ve ended up with stories and novels published. Which is definitely a cool thing.
Up next are my revisions for the literary book, which are so good, they’re gonna make it like ten times better. I also have to do edits on the cynical guide, including everything needed to turn it into a real book. And maybe write some more stories. I’m also reading a book I want to pitch for reviews: it’s an NYU english professor analyzing the ‘femme’ quality of guilty reads–the way that the pleasures they offer are curiously feminine. Definitely resonated with me!
SO I AM WORKING HARD. But I also might just play video games all day too. Ciao.