I recently registered for a writer’s conference. (I highly recommend this for fellow writers, and if you want to know why, please read about my first writers conference and 5 Reasons to go to a writers conference).
As part of my registration, I made several choices about my weekend.
Would you like to attend a four-hour workshop with a bestselling author? Learn from an experienced, successful person? Yes!
Would you like to eat lunch there? Sure. Chicken option please.
Would you like an appointment with an agent? I blinked. Did I?
Over my second cauldron of coffee, I pondered the idea of an appointment with an agent.
Hmm. I’ve been down that road before, and the agent was very helpful but ultimately I decided to go out on my own, agent-less. In the 18 months since, I have successfully launched a kickstarter campaign and reached my goal funding to indie publish. I’ve gone through numerous re-writes and months of editing. I commissioned awesome cover art and a book trailer (which I can’t wait to show you!) and set launch dates three times, only to have my health put my plans on hold each time.
I’ve really worried that I am disappointing my loyal supporters as I keep trying to move forward. I’ve even gone through pretty serious depression related to my stalled book and ongoing health, which has sometimes made it even more difficult to keep myself going.
As a result of my health obstacles, I’ve started wondering if I should revisit the idea of working with an agent. Con: Lose a chunk of my profits and control over timing. Pro: Maybe it’s worth it to not have to do every single thing on my own. It’s that nagging life theme I seem to be learning:
Yes. Being wonder woman is possible, but it’s kind of exhausting and accepting help can be a healthy thing.
Appointment with an agent? Let me read their bios…
Hey, this one sounds like a great fit. Looking for my genre and target audience, has years of industry experience but seems to think outside the box, has worked with bestsellers, and most importantly, has a clever sense of humor.
Appointment with an agent? Okay…yes.
So, the confirmation email came and I was able to get scheduled with the person I liked. The appointment is eight minutes. Eight freaking minutes. TODAY.
These eight minutes could be life altering. (Okay, realistically, the agent isn’t going to throw his hands up and shout from the rooftop that I’m the next J.K. Rowling.) But after hearing my 30-second pitch and/or watching my book trailer, there are a handful of possibilities I can imagine.
- He might ask for my manuscript. The thought is exciting and terrifying because then I’m going to have to decide if I want to remain on the path of indie author and figure out how to keep my promise to my kickstarter friends (it can’t take another year to get them their books because that is just plain rude and unfair.)
- He might pass. This scenario is equally daunting because then I’m going to have four or five awkward minutes to ask him what I could do to improve, whether it’s just not a good fit for him and if he’d be willing to recommend another agent who might be interested, or whether he thinks it stinks.
- He might have another idea that I haven’t really considered, like maybe I send him what I’m about to indie publish and he helps me take it across the finish line as planned while looking for some kind of hybrid deal for the sequel(s).
There may be something I can’t imagine, and I better not try because I have a wildly active writer’s imagination and I don’t want to scare myself or worry needlessly. Besides, worrying goes against the law of attraction.
I know that agents are just humans. They are not gods. We’ve all read and heard the stories of agents and publishers who rejected unknown authors that went on to great success without them. I don’t think that if this one person doesn’t want to work with me for whatever reason that I should forget it. But I would also be a fool to not at least weigh the opinion of an experienced industry professional.
Truth? I’m honestly not sure what I want out of these eight minutes, other than maybe to just take my own pulse. If he rejects my book idea knowing it’s basically low-hanging fruit—the MS is done, the cover is done, the trailer is done, my author platform is in place—then maybe that’s confirmation that I need to proceed ahead without an agent. Maybe I’ll just walk away with the confidence that I am meant to keep going. Time to get out of my own way. I just won’t know until it’s over.
No matter what happens, it is good practice in selling a total stranger on my story. Will I be able to hook him? Give him shivers? Bore him to death? (Hopefully not!) There is absolutely nothing wrong with practice. In fact, I’m going to have to be good at getting other people excited about my writing if I want any kind of success, whether I have an agent or not.
After decades of being a Detroit Lions and Michigan State Spartans fan, there is one thing I know for sure. Eight minutes can take forever or fly by.
And I’ll be wearing my luckiest of lucky Halloween socks for sure.
PS Happy 2016! I hope your year is off to a great start!