Yesterday, agent Jessica Faust opened up the floor for writers to vent about their frustrations with agents. Many of the comments were interesting and brought up good points. However, it seemed as the day went on, there were a great deal more comments that were just plain bitter and vindictive.
I know it must be frustrating for many of these writers, especially if they’ve had less than pleasant experiences with agents. I know it has to be difficult to work months and years on a project only to be met with lack of response or rejection. And even though I haven’t gotten to that point yet, I’m sure I will be just as impatient and frustrated. However, I’m trying my best to prepare myself ahead of time for the inevitability of the waiting game, however frustrating it may be. That’s just part of the business, at least from what I’ve learned over the past few months.
I think many writers take such frustration out by playing the blame game. I would like to suggest that perhaps one of the main reasons their book hasn’t been repped by an agent yet is because it’s not ready and/or because of the strong competition for all of us unpublished, unrepped writers out there. There are hundreds of thousands of people wanting to be published and obviously not all will make it to that point (unless one takes the self-publishing route). You have to work harder and make your story stand out from the rest. And yes, you may end up encountering an agent or agency that’s less than professional–but that goes with the territory. Every aspect of human society, whether that’s business, religion or politics will have some people in it that make others look bad. Nothing in life is perfect, nor will it ever be. There will always be issues and we have to do our best to deal with them.
For some reason, agents, editors and publishers are expected to be superhuman and perfect irregardless of the fact that it’s just not possible.
If agentfail# has proven anything to me, it’s demonstrated that agents really do have to deal with a lot (the amount of irritated writers in the comments is definitely proof of that). Yes, they aren’t perfect. Yes, they will make mistakes. They are only human after all, despite what many writers want to think.
Venting frustrations are fine, (we all have to at some point) and giving suggestions about how to change flaws in a system are great, but it accomplishes nothing to be bitter about it.
Well it was a productive weekend for me, at least when it came to writing.
How long has it been since I’ve said that?
I edited and re-wrote the bulk of my chapter for critique, though even after a brief re-write, I realized it still has a TON of work to be done on it (namely in being more descriptive…something I always struggle with). I realized when I first went through editing it that the second half of the chapter didn’t really make sense…it had my MC going to visit the merchant’s area of the small mountain village she lives in for the first time. It was interesting, until I thought how it wasn’t very smart in the scheme of things.
She’s in this tiny and remote mountain village for a reason–she’s being hidden from people who are searching for her. She also stands out quite a bit, being half American in a town that’s all Japanese, and her looks as well as her dress would definitely create a bit of a stir. So, I decided to delete that half of the chapter and change it to something else, something that came spur of the moment and was written as such
After that was done, I ended up jotting down a few notes for the third and final section of the story (these notes were mainly written in the car on the way to the in-laws house for dinner–and no I wasn’t driving :P–as well as written during church…I know, I should have been devoting my full attention to the sermon, but I couldn’t get the story voices to stop talking!) I also came up with a new beginning, one that eliminates my dull prologue and starts the plot catalyst within the first two chapters or 30 pages. That happened thanks to my blog-reading addiction and coming across Agent Kristin’s blog entry on queries and the importance of the plot catalyst being introduced early on in the manuscript.
I also added a new character to the beginning as well, replacing another character I had in that segment. She will be important as she’s my MC’s only close friend (besides her mother, who dies right before the beginning of the book) and someone she views as a sister. The character just came out of no where really, but she came as subtly and as welcoming as a summer breeze. She’ll also be very important later on in the story.
I often wonder how much more this book will change as I keep moving along. I can’t even remember what the “original” idea was, though the main fragments are still there.
I’m also incredibly thankful to my blog addiction. I’ve learned so much about the publishing world in these short months because of it. I believe it’s helping me craft a better story But I have to be careful not to spend too much time researching…something I end up doing too much…