Yesterday I woke up feeling overwhelmed. The day loomed ahead of me, and I felt immobilized by all I had to do. There wasn’t anything truly challenging or out of the ordinary going on. So why was I shrinking from the morning?
This happens sometimes when a neglected problem is churning away in a dark corner of my mind. I stuck it there on purpose, hoping it might resolve itself, or wither away from lack of attention. The opposite tends to happen with this approach. The problem mutates into a passive aggressive monster, robbing me of peace and sensibility. I may have conveniently forgotten where it came from or what it originally looked like. Some digging and sifting through memory is required just to locate it.
After a cup of coffee and some contemplation, I dragged out the culprit. It was the first draft of my story, finished in November, waiting for rewrite and editing. And then what? Would I be able to find an agent, or should I self-publish? The questions multiplied from there, mostly negative in tone, prompting me to want to tuck this challenge back into that dark corner of my mind.
After all this work, it would be silly to leave my story where it is. Writing is its own reward in many ways, but Leah and I want to share our work with The Reader. The next step at this stage seems overwhelming without an agent or a platform. So much is written that doesn’t get read. Anyone in the publishing world will tell you the stats, which are discouraging numbers for any budding writer.
Leah and I have determined to avoid this pitfall by encouraging one another to look for an agent. Since most publishing houses do not accept unsolicited manuscripts, it’s not possible to get your book into their hands without an agent. Agents have the connections, and they are always looking for new authors. Reid Tracy, President and CEO of Hay House, recommends scouring the acknowledgement sections of books that match your genre and looking up the agent the author has thanked. Then send them a letter and a sample of your writing. Another good resource is AgentQuery.com, a searchable database of literary agents. It includes instructions for submissions and guidelines for query letters, as well as networking and e-publishing information.
Broken down into smaller steps, the process doesn’t seem so overwhelming. Tomorrow morning I will wake up eager to work on those query letters. It’s not an insurmountable undertaking. Just one book, hoping to make it onto the shelf.
Carolyn and Leah