Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Writing Isn't the Hard Part

When Mark and I self-published "Well Blow Me Down" seven years ago, the hardest part wasn't writing it, or even editing it (editing your own work is hard.) The hardest part was selling it. Compared to the selling, the writing part is easy.

But of course you never get paid for writing. You get paid for selling what you wrote.

You'd go from bookstore to bookstore, get told "no thanks" five times in a row, and have to put on the same smile and same air of bravado for the sixth store of the afternoon. And eventually we did sell enough to have justified the venture, so that was a good thing. But hard.

Well, it's the same for trying to sell to an agent – with one exception. Bookstores have a front door. You can just walk in and ask for the manager. Agents control the how, when and what of the relationship. Some want you to send it by snail mail. Some want it by e-mail. Some want the pitch and three chapters, or 50 pages.

Or 10. Seriously, there are agents out there who will decide whether a book is worth their time after reading only 10 pages.

I got another "no thanks" last night from an agent who didn't want to represent "Gladys." They always couch it in terms that suggest it's somehow their failing, but you know what they mean. The latest said, "Unfortunately, after careful consideration I regret that I am not the right agent for your work at this time."As if she had no choice.

Every author believes in his or her book. You have to. You couldn't have written it if you didn't think it was a good story. So I know I'm biased. But it is actually pretty good, and that's not just me talking. I have a "secret weapon" that tells me young readers will get caught up in it. I'll explain that another day.

Also, agents are (or ought to be) in the business to make money. It can't be a matter of doing it for fun or out of charity. And if I've got even a decent book with the kind of exposure I can get through Talk Like a Pirate Day and our Web site, with millions of hits every year, you'd think they'd see some potential. Even if they didn't "connect" with it, you'd think they'd see, "The guy writes okay, and we could potentially sell quite a few books." But apparently not.

It only takes one, and that one is out there. But damn! Finding him or her is taking too damn long.

And now, I paste the smile back on my face, pull on my air of bravado, and push on.

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