Saturday, March 12, 2011

My First Agent Rejection Letter

First, I have to admit that being rejected by an agent is far less painful than being rejected by a publisher.  Maybe it's because I know that if I can't get agent representation, I can still do it myself.  I can even handle all the legal matters of getting published if I had to.  Learning legal speak happens to be part of my actuarial training.

However, the concept of specialization teaches that I'd be better off finding an agent.  Agents can do all the legal stuff faster than me.  They know the business off the top of their heads.  They can sell books faster.  Simple math tells me: find an agent and I will have more time to write, which translates into more wonderful books you'll get to read one day.

Now, if only I could find an agent!

It reminds me of my late teenager years when I wanted to earn some money for college.  I didn't have a car, because I couldn't afford one.  However, I couldn't get to work if I didn't have a car.  There was one particular job where I was about to be hired, but then they learned I didn't have a car.  A teenager with no way to get to work?  They just didn't feel like they could count on me.  I told them I could ride the bus.  It let off near the place of work.  They told me, "no thanks."

Now here I am again in a similar Catch 22.  I have two books finished, with one ready to sell (and the other will be ready once I set aside time to edit it again), but no publisher will take me seriously because I haven't sold anything yet.  Having an agent would help, but I'm learning that most reputable agents don't want to touch an aspiring writer who hasn't sold anything.

The rejection letter I received summarizes this sentiment:

Dear Mr. Windham:

Thank you for giving me an opportunity to review your query. My client list is currently quite full, however, and I am therefore taking on very few new writers.

I wish you the best of luck in finding representation elsewhere.
This is a "form rejection" letter as spelled out in one of my earlier posts.  I know it's a form letter, as it's nearly quoted from some notes I came across while researching the agency.  It's professionally written.  It doesn't burn any bridges (meaning I can try again later with a different opportunity).  It was also very punctual.  I sent the query last Saturday and received the rejection five days later.

Let me emphasize the part that says, "My client list is currently quite full."  I've read that most agents have enough clients already to make the profits they seek.  This was also reiterated in the local publisher's group meeting I attended last week.

Supposedly, some agents (if not all) are also keeping an eye out for that special undiscovered talent.  Since I happen to be special undiscovered talent, this is the agent I seek.  However, it's still up to me to prove that I really am undiscovered talent.  How can I do that with no publishing credits?

Luckily, I have a plan of action.  I'm going to hit the short story circuit over the next few months.  I need to get publishing credits under my belt.  Meanwhile, I'll still try these agents one at a time.  Perhaps one will take me on by virtue of a well-written query letter or novel partial.

If I run out of reputable agents to try, then I'll try hitting up the publishers directly again.  If they want to buy my book, I'll do as Orson Scott Card suggests and find an agent at that time.  Then one will be more willing to represent me.  But at that stage, I would negotiate a reduced 10% commission on that first book, as I would have already done the hard part of getting it sold.

We'll see what happens.  I'll report along the way.  Either I will persevere and finally sell a book, or I will crash and burn and go to my grave with my dreams unrealized.

Happy writing, and go do whatever it takes to get yourself published!  Good luck!

No comments: