Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

One Down, One to Go

Playing in the background: The soft gurgle of the kitty fountain
Meters swum today: Zilch. I overslept.

Okay, gang, I sent the first letter last night to Wild Child Publishing. They're a print-on-demand, mainly electronic press, and if I dare say so, they have some pretty nifty titles. Check them out here. So that's one letter outta here. Now I gotta find some agent to write to about Mindbender. I can't tell you how old that's getting. Well, I'd tell you how old it was getting if I were actually writing the letters but since I'm not, I can't tell you. Suffice to say, the story's been taking up valuable real estate in my head for a long time, and I've managed to dredge up some passing interest but nothing lasting.

Brief tangent: Last night at work one of my vendors, Kyle, came by to install some software. We were chatting as we're wont to do and he brought up that he was having trouble with his real estate agent. He's been trying to buy a house for some time now, and you'd think with as depressed as the real estate market is around here, he wouldn't have any trouble at all. Well, you'd be wrong. He spun his saga while my computer churned away in the background, busily digesting documents for our litigation-management software, and concluded with this: "What I really need is a real estate agent who doesn't yank me around."

Boy, did I ever have a phone number for him. When we moved to Dallas four years ago, we had less than 40 days to sell the place in Cali, buy a place in Dallas, pack, get the movers, move, turn everything on in the new place, and unpack. I climbed the Mount Everest of logistics on that one and I did not, repeat not, have time to fool around. We went through three real estate agents in about a week because the second they started jerking me around, I fired them. No argument, no discussion, just, "Thanks for everything, you're fired." Then I found Sondra, and she is a goddess, and my only regret was that she couldn't get the commission for the place we sold back in Cali because she certainly earned it.

So I gave her phone number to Kyle and it suddenly occurred to me that this is what I need. Someone who knows me who also knows someone in the publishing world who also knows someone who just happens to need a suspense/ thriller with a strong female protagonist and a politically charged story line for the 2009 rollout. That's it. That's all. I don't ask for much.

See, here's the problem with literary agents. Any human being on the planet probably knows less than a hundred people that he/she could call on the phone and talk to out of the blue at any given moment. For most of us it's less than that (I counted less than fifty). Now, it's the business of agents to know people in the publishing world, but I'll bet even the very top ones know fewer than, say, 45 people in the industry that they could call and say, "Hey, I've got this great new manuscript." Even among that 45, they still know that, "Okay, Bob doesn't read that genre, and Mildred does but there's no way she'd get this manuscript past that fundamentalist-whacko boss of hers, and Steve might be interested but I owe him too many favors, so I think I'll try JoAnn and Fred." So it's not just a matter of finding AN agent, it's a matter of finding the RIGHT agent, and the only thing that says whether this agent is right or not (at least at the beginning of the relationship) is, "Does this agent know some people who might be interested in what I wrote?" Or, for the agent, "Do I know anybody who might buy this thing?"

In short, luck plays no small part. I mean, I suppose if you can't write to save your life, you're out of the game anyway, but even if you're really good (and I think I am), you still have to land in the right place at the right time. Somebody rejecting your manuscript is probably not thinking, "This sucks." He or she is probably thinking, "I can't sell this." There's probably some middle ground where they think, "This is interesting but I don't like it enough to go to all the trouble of trying to sell it." I mean, they do this for a living, people. And it can't be easy.

So having said all that, I'm going to look for a literary agent who needs a Latin-themed thriller with political undertones and blah blah blah. Or a comedy about a time-traveling municipal accountant out to save the Tree of Life before all of reality comes unglued. If anybody knows anybody who knows anybody who needs something like that, send 'em my way, will you?

The rest of you, go read something.

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