I stare at the “SEND” button. I feel like this is every job interview and cute-girl-asking-out experience rolled into one.
I swear I can take it and I know I’m going to need to do a million of these emails, so I may as well get started. But this first one just seems so scary.
Even though I’ve been doing this writing lifestyle thing for nearly 15 years, I’ve never submitted a novel to an actual agent. My novel is about a guy trying to prove that he’s not a total loser, but his old college buddies still see him as the drunken nightmare. Has this been done a million times before and even been done better? I don’t know! I’ve never seen anything like it before.
However, I do know that writing an entire novel takes me about a year — give or take. This book took me five edited versions with some completely different changes in tone and blah blah blah.
My book is supposed to be funny. I don’t know if there’s anything worse than a bad comedy. At least a stupid horror, action or romance movie can be fun to make fun of with your friends. But when jokes miss their mark, that just hurts everybody in the theater or room — depending where you’re watching the movie.
Every new year, I make resolutions to actually get one of my books on the shelf. I don’t know which one of my five novels is the best. Well, two are ready to rock, two need another run-through. One is garbage.
My goal in life has always been to be a published author. However, shiny-toothed literary agents don’t just come knocking on your door with giant book deals in their hands. I need to convince literary agents to read an email from me, a little bio about me and maybe even some of my actual book. Every writer talks about how this is the hardest, most boring and most defeating part of the life. Hopefully the payoff makes it worth it.
In order to do all this, I spent $30 on the “Guide to Literary Agents,” spent hours reading it and made a spreadsheet so I could figure out which agents I’d contacted and queried. I triple check all the things I send out and still manage to find mistakes after I send them. I can only do about 10 of these emails a day before I start going cross-eyed. It’s technical process you probably don’t care about.
So I write queries and synopses, then I mail them out. About half the people who’ve read my books actually like them, but less than a handful have actually read them. I’d like to think working as a newspaper reporter, bouncer and teacher would help me develop a skin thicker than an elephant’s, but these novels are my babies.
My old bar can burn down or my schools can be turned into meatpacking plants, but criticism against my creations hurts. Writing is how I spend my nights and weekends, while getting paid nothing.
Hopefully, one of these query emails catches the eye of some literary agent who knows just who might like to publish some of my tales so I can entertain a bigger audience. And maybe I’ll get a contract that can pay me back for all that free time I spent polishing, outlining and editing.
That’s the dream.