Monday, September 19, 2005

Secret Agent Man...or Woman

My agent is out there, right now. Somewhere.

I'm just a few months shy of having my manuscript in shape to start shopping around in that elusive pursuit called the query-go-round. And you know what? The thought of the umpteen rejections I'll potentially receive doesn't scare me.

What scares me is the thought of trying to figure out which agents to query to begin with. I have, so far, used three separate major resources to find a list of agents who represent young-adult and/or science fiction and fantasy. The total number of agents was enormous. So, I whittled that down to agents who only represent both young-adult and science fiction or fantasy. Still, the number was too high.

Using a rather complex and entirely subjective process, I am down to a start out with.

But, who knows if they are the right twelve? I mean, even Jesus had Judas among his twelve. I'm just a writer. This whole "picking out an agent" thing is beyond me. Because, you know, it isn't like I can just window-shop. Not only must I pick an agent, but the agent must, in return, pick me.

So, here is what the ideal process would be, from my perspective.

There should be one and only one website. (with the R written backwards, of course). There, you browse the agents. But more importantly, you submit your own information, including query and partial manuscript, and three or four agents must compete to represent you, a la Priceline or whatever. No need for me to preselect agents and send them mountains of paper, only to have them read the query and trash it all with a polite, but perfectly preformatted form letter stating as much.

No, the agents on read your work and then contact you directly. They are required to fill out a checklist, with such boxes as:
  • Writing is strong
  • Storyline is hackneyed
  • What were you on when you thought you could be a writer?
You get the idea. This provides the author useful feedback. Ultimately, some agent agrees to represent you, and suddenly you are off the query-go-round and entering SubmissionVille.

Unfortunately, the realities of the business make such a method unrealistic. So, I shall continue my pursuit of finding that Secret Agent out there, be it man or woman. Because someone, somewhere out there will want to represent me. I'm sure of it. I think. I hope. Maybe.


Melanie Lynne Hauser said...

Don't let fear stop you, Ryan. I recently met someone in a MFA program, nearing 40, who had been writing for years but had never yet submitted anything because she was afraid of the process. That won't get you anywhere. Do your research, but don't hide behind it.

RyanBruner said...

I won't let it stop me...but it is, for me, a hurdle. And who knows...maybe in the next three months, someone will set up (Or not.)