The Pressure of Finding the Right Agent

Hey guys! How’ve you been? That’s good, that’s good… Oh, me? Ah, well, to be honest, I’ve been pretty stressed. Why? Well, let me tell you why. It’s because I’ve been dedicating hours of my life to doing copious amounts of research on literary agents. It’s been a long and arduous process, one I’m hoping will pay off in the end, but I’m not going to lie. It’s taking quite the toll on my poor little brain. Because it isn’t as easy as you may think. Not if you’re me, anyway. It’s funny, because in most areas of my life I have the most Type B personality one could have. But when it comes to writing–and, in the same vein, researching literary agents–I’m a Type A fiend. The type of Type A that my Type B side would hate very, very much.

Y’all, I’ve got spreadsheets galore. Spreadsheets out the wazoo. I’ve got one titled “Agency Search” (which was the original spreadsheet) and then one titled “Starred Agencies” (for the agencies that represented authors I recognized) and then one titled “Good Agencies” (for all of the other agencies that didn’t look like scams) and then one titled “Best Fits” and one titled “Good Fits” and one titled “First Agents to Query” (that one’s blank right now). So, yeah. It’s chaos. Organized chaos, but chaos nonetheless. So maybe a bit of my Type B personality is slipping in every once in a while, just to shake things up.

Anyway, what I want to talk about today are the two spreadsheets I’ve been spending the day working on–“Best Fits” and “Good Fits”–because these are the spreadsheets that have been filling me with incredible anxiety. Not because they’ve been giving me any problems (they’re actually the easiest ones to work with, content-wise), but because of what they represent. You see, “Best Fits” are for the agents that are looking to represent not only books like mine, but also all of the genres I know I’ll want to write in the future, while “Good Fits” are for the agents that are looking to represent a book like mine but may not represent all of the other genres I want to write. My plan is to query five agents from the “Best Fits” list and five agents from the “Good Fits” list at a time once I finally enter the query trenches. However, I find myself to be filled with dread.

I mean, what if I get an offer of representation from an agent who doesn’t represent the genres I want to write?

I know, I know. The literal embodiment of First World Problems. I’ll be lucky if I get any offer of representation, so what right do I have to turn my nose up at an agent just because they may not be interested in representing some potential book that I might write someday? But, I mean, that’s the problem. I don’t want to have to turn down an offer of representation for that reason, because some of the agents on my “Good Fits” list are FREAKING AMAZING. I’d be the luckiest person in the world if I were offered representation by them. But do I throw away my dream of writing an Adult Sci-Fi novel or a MG Contemporary someday for a fantastic agent? I mean, what do I DO, you guys?

And, yes, sure, I should probably wait to see if I get any offer of representation before I start freaking out about turning down offers of representation. I promise I’m not sitting over here thinking that my getting an agent is a surefire thing. I mean, shit, my friends may think I’m a romantic, but I’ve got some grasp on reality. I know the odds, and I know they’re not really in my favor. But this is how I’ve always been. Looking ten steps into the future, imagining the big what-ifs in life. That’s what makes me a writer, after all. Unfortunately, it’s also what strokes the flames of my anxiety, which, in case you were wondering, is not fun.

I guess, in the end, I’ll just have to weigh the pros and cons. Is it worth giving up the dream of traditionally publishing a certain type of novel in order to work with a certain agent? Obviously that’ll be based on an agent-by-agent basis, so it’ll have to be a cross-that-bridge-when-(if)-we-come-to-it type of thing.

“But Leighton, why don’t you just not query certain agents if they can’t give you everything you want?” you may be asking. And to that I say, valid point. The thing is, I really don’t want to cut my options short. Like I said, some of these agents that don’t represent every genre are amazing. Perfect for me (other than that one tiny little detail). Plus, I want to increase my odds of getting an offer of representation. Those odds are pretty low to begin with, you know. I guess, more than anything, I’m just frustrated. I think we all know what it’s like to want to have your cake and eat it too, but I think we also know that’s not how the world works.

Have any of you guys dealt with this before? What did you end up doing? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear your stories or any advice you may have for me.

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