Fiction Writing and Other Oddities

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

After a sleepless night, I've come to the realization that I'm...well...there is not really polite way to say it, so you can use your imagination. After trying to contact my agent via emails and phone calls, I've received an email terminating our arrangement. After nearly a year and four meager submissions. I hesitate to use the word "unsellable" however she did, so I guess it's appropriate. Somehow it seems so unfair that I would be considered unsellable after only four submissions, but there it is. I used to do better racking up rejections from publishers before I tried the agent route. I had entire fistfuls then, not just four teeny weany ones. That's not even a decent stack.

Maybe the real reason she dropped me is that I annoyed her by leaving a message, asking her to call me, about once every two weeks or so over the last two months, until the last two weeks, when I actually called her, uh, I think it was maybe 3 times, and left messages. Due to my detail-oriented personality (certainly better than calling it anal) I counted these calls and it was 5 in a two month period. Anyway, enough self-justification. I only left 5 messages because I was hoping to have my manuscript submitted to a few more places. But I was honestly trying not to bug her so that she wouldn't think I was some kind of crazed stalker constantly phoning or emailing her. I had nightmares of the police confiscating my PC and slapping me with some kind of restraining order if I bugged her too much.

Is one phone message every few weeks (remember, that totaled 5 messages since last August) too much? How much is too much? How much is too little? Am I just stupid to think four submissions don't make you unsellable? Note: I do think that no talent, lack of ability or even the rudiments of grammar, poor plot development, and anti-social tendencies may make you unsellable, but hey, what do I know? And I'm desperately hoping I didn't just describe myself.

However, back to my original reason for a sleepless night. After much gnashing of teeth and pillow-thumping, I realized this entire situation has...well...not to be rude, but to put it another way, has gagged me, duct-taped my hands and feet, chained five cinderblocks to my ankles, and thrown me into the East River.

Other agents don't like it if you previously had an agent and terminated your agreement while you are still an unpublished wannabe. So I'm tainted. Although in my case, I was pathetic enough to take the lack of responsiveness and no evidence of any activity on the part of my agent, and just wait for her to terminate me. And rule number one is that if you are looking for an agent and previously had an agent (or still have an agent) you have to admit it up front, or the next agents you query eye you with even more suspicion and dread. Because they will find out.

And just to clarify this, in case you think I happened to get a rotten agent. No. Sorry. I don't even have that excuse. I had a fantastic agent who has gotten other newbies published quicker than you can write a query letter. This agent has done wondrous things...for other writers. Just not moi--er, me. writing or plots or characters or some combination thereof must really stink on ice.

So let's say I get past that mind-crushing defeat. Just when I'm searching for that silver-lining, an even uglier black lining enfolds me in it's musty, damp grip. My manuscript, probably the best one I've written so far, is now "shopped". Yes, that's right. Even though it only went to four publishers, it is shopped and other agents are going to be leary about trying to sell it. Particularly since the four places it was submitted to were the ones that pay the best advances. Any future agent could only send it to places that give smaller advances, and hence the agent's incentives are correspondingly minimized.

Therefore, where is any other agent's incentive to pick me up, particularly for this shopped manuscript? I'll tell you where. That incentive is duct-taped to the back of my neck, drowning in the foully polluted East River along with me.

Did I tell you that I'm scr*w^d? F%ck*d, perhaps? Thank you so very much. I so appreciate wasting all of 2005 waiting for submissions that were never done and communications I never got. Oops, my honesty compells me to modify that. Four pathetic submissions were done in March of 2005. Just enough to shop my manuscript and thereby ensure no other agent would ever be interested in it, or me, within the forseeable future. I stand humbled and corrected.

Of course, just to sink those cinderblocks dragging at my ankles just a little bit deeper into the muck, I've written this blog, which, if any literary agent reads it, will tell them that if they ever, ever get a query or manuscript from this grumpy old woman, they will run frantically in the opposite direction, flinging instructions over their shoulders to their assistants to burn the dratted things, immediately, and don't forget to fumigate.

Having now, quite publically, committed seppuku (ritual suicide for those who have never tried it) I guess this blog is complete. It can now be published, where it will serve the mighty purpose of making sure no agent or publisher ever, ever considers for a nano-second dealing with me, ever. Really, ever, ever. Never.

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