The first draft took me four years. The second, three months. The third, four weeks. Then I went on vacation.
Now that I’m back, it’s time for the dreaded Agent Search.
Other than marketing ourselves, there’s probably nothing we writers hate more than searching for an agent. Of course, there are up sides. For those of us who enjoy research, there’s plenty of digging. And, of course, there’s lots of writing, revising and rewriting, and that’s second nature to us.
Yet each query letter, is an agonizing exercise in wowing an agent with words. In one short page, we must grab his or her (or their just-out-of-college assistants’) attention; demonstrate our manuscripts have the makings of bestsellers — or at least modestly lucrative books; and convince our would-be agent that ours would be a profitable partnership.
My college essays didn’t cause this much angst. At least then, I never doubted that one (or more) “college of my choice” would give me the nod. With longer odds, query letters have far less certain outcomes. They are the one shot to make a stellar impression without the campus visits to try each other out for fit.
To be fair, agents need thigh-high waders to get through their slush piles. They might slog through the manuscripts after late nights out, in the midst of personal drama or with jaundiced eyes. Agents’ livelihoods depend on their choices as much as ours do. For both of us, finding the connection that clicks can be a crap shoot.
Until that seven or 11 comes up, I’ll keep rolling those dice.