I just remembered a post I wrote almost exactly a year ago – back then, I had been talking (or rather trying to talk) to a few literary agents, with very little success. I had vowed not to give up but instead to deal with rejection in small doses and to dedicate Friday mornings to the agent hunt. A very good resolution, if I may say so, but unfortunately an unfulfilled one. I didn’t necessarily give up. No, I spent another year polishing the manuscript, attempting to make it the best manuscript I could. I didn’t stick to the Friday morning plan, but at least avoided any further rejection.
Out of ten agents I had initially approached, three never answered. Four were straight NO’s with answers like ‘not for us’ or ‘our client list is full’. Two seemed initially interested but not interested enough. And my lucky number ten just said ‘I like it very much’.
I know that nine NO’s aren’t many in a world where agents receive hundreds of manuscripts a week. But it was enough to make me feel a little disheartened and send me back into the comfort zone of editing and re-writing.
Looking for an agent is difficult. Much more difficult than I had thought it would be. The whole process is painstakingly structured, with strict guidelines for submissions, rules about writing a synopsis and rules about putting together a query letter. And while you are trying to stick to the bloody rules, you mustn’t forget that the whole thing needs to be personal and unique. But by no means go to such lengths as camping outside an agent’s home for a week, in order to discover that unique, personal angle. That might freak them out. See. You just can’t win.
In the end, I followed neither rules nor resolutions.* I just happened to be in the right place at the right time, chatting to a well-known journalist about the pains of looking for an agent. She recommended her own agent, whom she praised as fabulous, wrote down his email and phone number and we parted. I didn’t think much about it, jotted down a few lines and hit send. The following day I received a call. I met Adrian a week later, decided that I liked him and that it would be terrific to work with him. Apparently, this understanding was mutual, as we signed a contract another week later.
No rules, no resolutions. It wasn’t even a Friday morning.
*I also never camped outside one’s house, in case you were wondering.