I haven’t talked too much here – or anywhere – about my recent serious effort to find an agent. It’s no secret, but it’s a business thing, and I figure it’s pretty much between me and the agents until something official happens. In the meantime, either someone is going to love my work and want to represent me or s/he’s not the right agent for me, however perfect s/he may look on paper. But, of course, as easily said as that is, the whole process is also a very emotional one. I don’t think it’s possible to write a good book without pouring your heart and soul onto the page, so sending it out and waiting for likely rejection isn’t easy and feels very personal. For me, it’s essential to remember, always, that this is a business. But it’s also essential for me to keep my sense of humour about the whole thing.
My best friend is not a writer, and is the perfect person to help me keep this process in perspective. So especially for those of you who are also going through this process at the moment, I give you her analogy about agents and underwear:
A query letter is the first time you see a potential date across a room and get up the nerve to go over and introduce yourself. Rejection is likely, but the amount of yourself invested in the attempt is relatively minimal. Being rejected sucks, but it’s a numbers game. You expect it to happen more often than not. If it happens every time, you polish your approach and try again. And if things go well, it leads to
The partial. This is the first date. It’s conversation over dinner, where you find out whether you have the same taste in music and feel the same way about dogs vs cats and whether there’s any chemistry. At worst, one of you will feel it and the other won’t and you’ll get rejected. This will sting, because you had your hopes up that he might be The One and you put your best effort into being your most attractive self. But if the two of you click and you can’t stop talking and suddenly it’s two am before you realize it’s even dark outside, the relationship will progress to
The full manuscript. This is the first time your date is going to see you naked, and you’re not sure whether you’ve picked the right underwear for the occasion or if he has an aversion to cellulite or freckles, but cellulite and freckles and the lacy number you picked up that one day you were feeling thin is what you have to offer. And it’s here that you reveal so much of yourself that rejection is going to hurt. You know he likes you enough to want to see you naked; that’s been established. But when you’re standing there in your best bra and panties, holding your breath, it’s nerve-wracking. Being told “Sorry, not for me” at this point is a blow. No matter how circumspect you’ve tried to be about the whole thing, standing nearly naked in front of anyone is pretty intensely personal. But there’s always the hope, the chance, that he’ll take a long look and want to take things to the next level as much as you do and maybe even propose…