Dear Internet, having an agent still feels good. Sometimes people come across my online journal without knowing who I am, and they leave comments that are a bit condescending, like, “Wait until you’re on submission! That’s the real tough part!”
I know about the tough parts. There are a lot of tough parts. In a way it was nice not having an agent: I felt very in control of my career—whatever I wrote I could submit—nobody could stop me—I could always push out more queries—I could be bold and do whatever I wanted, be very nimble, not have a filter. But it did get old feeling like there was a barrier between me and the publishing industry. I generally don’t ever expect to sell books—every book feels like a complete fluke—but it’s nice to at least have the chance! With the search for agents, you’re competing for the chance to have a chance.
Now that part is done. My agent is older than me (in comparison, my first agent was basically my age—I was 27 and he was 27 and a half), so I’ll definitely need to go out there again someday. Who knows what the publishing industry will look like then? Over the past few weeks I’ve talked to a number of older women who’ve left their agents or been left by their agents; it’s hard. Although most of the readers are older women, the world is still used to not taking you seriously. And someday that will be me! I’m 35 now—I’ll be fifty or sixty, searching for a new agent. Kind of exhausting to think about. But you manage.
One reason I’m publish8ing the Cynical Guide (which is coming) is just so I’ll always have something that’s mine, some sort of brand, some direct-to-market connection. The Cynical Guide has an extremely distinctive voice—something like my blog voice, but much more so—and I’m hoping to write many books in that voice.
This half-year-ish period of not having an agent has been great for me! I’ve written short stories, book reviews, my cynical guide—it’s confirmed for me that there will always be a place for me in the writing world. I’m not someone who can get excited about writing unless I see some way of publishing it. I think although I started off writing short stories, for the last seven years, I’ve really only thought of novels, but that’s not the only thing out there.
I don’t know. It feels incredible that it’s over. The search really took over my life for the first three months, and then it was sort of constantly in the background for the next three. It changed me, probably more than any other period of submission ever has.