I was hanging with one of my besties the other night, listening to her recant—for the fiftieth time—the story of her first date with this guy she’s been seeing for a little over a month. Not a single detail was missed. The dreamy sparkle was still in her eyes. Yeah... she's pretty much smitten.
And while I practically have that story memorized and you’d think I hate hearing it by now… I don’t. In fact, I love seeing my friend bubble with anticipation of the next date or text. I help her overanalyze every conversation. I’m happy for her dating highs and cry with her during the loser lows.
Yes - I live vicariously through the dating lives of my twenty-something friends.
You'd think I want to experience it myself.
I was mucho happy when I met my husband and knew I would never have to play the whole dating game ever again.
Or so I thought.
When I started the whole query process over a year ago, I at once felt like I was back in the dating world. The butterflies nested in my stomach every time I sent off another query. I checked my email, like, a hundred times a day for responses. When I first exposed my heart and asked someone to represent my novel, the rejection stung. That first full request - I read and re-read the email so many times I could repeat it verbatim. And when the rejection came from that request, it was like losing my first love. I sucked down a bottle of wine and cried for two days.
After thirty rejections and a new batch of thick skin, I fixed my novel and queried again, doing a little more research into the agents I targeted. And boy, was that ever like The Dating Game…
Contestant Agent 1 is a new agent at Super Wonderful Agency, represents YA fiction, and loves working with debut authors. Originally from Chapel Hill….
Wait. I’m a debut author. I write YA. I have UNC in my book. Maybe, maybe…
Contestant Agent 2 represents YA and middle-grade fiction and leans towards strong female protagonists with a quirky voice.
Oooh! I have that. Pick me! Pick me!
Contestant Agent 3 is one of my dream agents. And she remembers me from a conference! She wants to see my first fifty pages. She…
Ugh. Freaking hate this.
Just like dating, querying has been exhilarating and heart-wrenching. At times I want to give up and think there’s no agent out there who’ll want me. Other times I wonder how they can possibly not love me. So I keep putting myself out there, cracking open my ribs and exposing my vulnerable little heart.
Dating. What fun.
But I also know that true love comes when you least expect it. I was not expecting to meet the man of my dreams at a Kinston Indians baseball game, but sixteen years and two fabulous children later, I’m still with the love of my life (where’s that collective “awwww”?)
And when I went to a writer’s conference a month ago, I expected for agents I pitched to request pages (fairly standard), but I wasn’t expecting someone to request the whole thing after reading two pages and I certainly didn’t anticipate anyone telling me “I totally want this book.”
PS – still tingly from that squee story.
And whether or not that potential agent relationship works out or not, I’ve also learned this through my years of failed relationships and broken hearts:
Mr. or Mrs. Right is out there… somewhere.
I attended a query workshop with the fabulous Roseanne Wells of Marianne Strong Literary Agency. She discussed the process of querying, what to include, what not to say—very informative. She advised checking out agency websites to see what particular agents are looking for and what they represent and how different agents want different things. Again-informative.
But what was most informative (and memorable)—the audacious writer lady from row four who had the nerve to ask
“Why can’t you guys just agree on what you (insert choice expletive) want so we can know what we have to do to get our #*@# books on the shelves?”
Aside from wanting to crawl under the table(PS—agent lady handled the situation and the response fabulously), I just really wanted to scream
I mean really. What if the only thing that would seal the deal in a relationship was a sense of humor? Or what if every guy’s number one-priority was ginormo ta-tas (okay—it might be)?
Well, then the not so witty, A-cup Alisons of the world would be screwed.
What if the answer to that perfect woman is a girl who can cook. Yep—screwed again.
Or what if every girl's dream man looked, acted, and spoke like Han Solo?
Can you imagine if the only thing that turned agents on was poetry? Or horror novels? What if every book-reader only preferred gushy romances?
My point (yes—I do have one): I don’t want all agents to want the same thing. I don’t want all readers to want the same thing.
The writing biz is mucho subjective (thank God). What one person balks at, another might love, love, love. And with every failed relationship I grow thicker skin and learn all about the kind of agent I want and the kind I don't.
Yeah, I want an agent. But I want the one that’s going to love my books as much as I do. The one that’s going to support and nurture me in my growth as a published author. The one that will be with me in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer... till death do us part. Hee.
I do enjoy reliving the dating game through the hearts of my friends, but I will be totally okie-dokie when my agent-courting days come to an end.
You know - when I say “Do you want to represent me?”
And Mr. or Mrs. Right responds, “I do.”