Why I Want an Agent, and How I’m Going to Get One

I remember the day I decided I could be a writer. It was summer and I was looking down the cul-de-sac from a spot near the front yard of our house in Gladstone, Oregon. There is a place where the sidewalk/bike path crosses from that cul-de-sac to another street. As kids we learned all sorts of ways to dodge between houses and fences to get where we wanted to go without using the normal sidewalks or streets. In this case, I looked at that particular pathway and it made me wonder where I was going to travel in my life once I started using the roads that everyone else uses.

By then I had already written some childish things, and some not so childish things, but that was the first time I really decided that a writer was what I was going to be. Even then I remember holding it back to myself, as a secret. I knew that I would go on to do all sorts of other things, and when I was finished exploring I would be a writer. It didn’t seem difficult at all. It was a realization of potential.

Nothing much has changed. I am still experiencing life, and I’m still thinking about being a writer, but now in a different way, not in a “someday I will” sort of way, but in a “this is my dream, this is my goal, and this is what I have to give” sort of way.

The difference between then and now is that now I work on it. I come up with ideas, and write out sentences, and the sentences turn into paragraphs, and then into chapters, and then into books. I rework and revise, over and over again. When I go back and read the books, I am impressed with what I have created. There are characters and there are stories, and also hidden in there is my whole life, my feelings about the world. I am tough to please, where books are concerned, but once I let them sit for a while I am pleased by what I have created.

Naturally, there are days when it all seems impossible, when I feel that I don’t have the talent of a shoe. Everyone feels that way sometimes. In reality I am excited, proud, trembling with eagerness to share my work. However, the thinking, the polishing, the finishing, the excitement, all of these things do not in themselves guarantee an audience. It seems like it should, but there is still another step to take, and a long road to walk.

I have to entice other people to read my stories. I have to find my audience. This is where an agent comes in. It is easy to feel that agents are antagonists. That is because they have the power of yes and no, and with the exception of Gordon Warnock, the only response I have ever received from an agent is “No.” That is not an accurate representation of what an agent does. Agents are there for the writer. They are the ones who earn a living by connecting writers to their audience. The agent must be just as enthusiastic about the project as the writer, and for to happen, the writer has to find the right agent for their work, instead of assuming that their work is simply “great” and that anyone should be able to see that.

Here, then, are my three resolutions.

I resolve to send out a query for one of my novels every two weeks. I have created the books I need to find an audience. I resolve to start fresh with each query as I go, until I find a way to describe my work that makes my agent want to read it.

I resolve to be selective when searching for my agent. I will not be lazy. I will not choose someone who sounds like they might fit. It is easy to find current information. I resolve to read blogs and websites and find the agent who is right for my work, and then convince them to read it.

I resolve to keep trying until I find my agent. I resolve not to get discouraged, or to think that I have no talent. I resolve to remember that agents get hundreds and thousands of letters, and that hard work pays off. I resolve to do the hard work until it does, and then start working harder.

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