Four years ago I went to a writing conference. I learned that I was doing lots of things wrong when it came to my writing, but mostly when it came to querying agents.
I thought spell check was the same as editing.
I thought 120,000 words for a YA romance was totally fine.
You get the picture.
I met a lot of great people and ate a very overpriced salad.
We were all there for the same reason: To get an agent.
The last day of the conference they had a speed-dating session with the agents. It cost extra. I paid the extra. I went to a class to learn how to pitch my story. I stayed up most of the night perfecting the pitch. I came up with something amazing. Much more amazing than the queries I’d sent out. I went to the session feeling very confident. Hoping for the best, preparing for the worst.
I pitched six agents. Here were my results:
Agent One: Seemed marginally interested in my story. Told me to query her with a synopsis and the first three chapters. I was like WTF! Didn’t I just pitch the synopsis? Ok, whatever. I was just happy she didn’t reject me to my face since she was one of the first agents to reject my query via email.
Agent Two: She said she LOVED the pitch and the fact that it was a contemporary romance, not fantasy. She asked me to send her the first three chapters and to make sure I noted it was requested material. This made me really happy. Especially, because I had queried this agent via email a year earlier and received a rejection.
Agent Three: Same as two. Loved the pitch. Asked for the first one hundred pages. She was also one of the agents that rejected me the previous summer.
Agent Four: She said I had a great pitch and referred me to Agent Three. She didn’t rep YA.
Agent Five: Said she liked the idea of the story, but only if it was really dark. (Side note: Because of this comment I actually made the story dark. Dark was the element I was missing, so thanks Agent Five) She asked for the first three chapters. But more out of pity. She liked me more than the story.
Agent Six: Said the story seemed very relatable and asked for an official query, synopsis, and first three chapters. Again, this is an agent that rejected this story a few months earlier.
I left the conference with so much hope and confidence that I would get signed. The agents all seemed to like me, like my book. I was on my way! The next day I crashed my car. It was the universe’s way of balancing out my life. Suddenly, the path I was on didn’t seem like it was the right one.
I ended up sending an unedited version of Thizz to Agent Three. She had the most success in my genre and I thought we would work well together. She sent back a rejection within five days. I was sad.
I spent the next year rewriting. Then I went back to the conference. The theme of the weekend was that self-publishing would kill my chances of being a writer. I learned that agents don’t want authors that write multiple genres. They want pretty packages they can sell. That is what they bought from me last year. I sold them on my book because I am a good sales person. Not a good writer.
I did some soul searching and thought about the other agents that requested chapters. Could they sell my book better than me? What if I want to write an adult romance or a fantasy, is that allowed?
The answer was no.
I don’t fit into a box. I’m so outside the box. I fucking stomp on the box.
I shoved the names and information of all those agents into a drawer. I will never query them anything I write. Because I’m not writing for them, I write for me. I want to decide the name of my book, what the cover will look like. I’ll take all responsibilites for typos. What I won’t do is compromise who I am.
When it comes down to it. I’m not a writer. I’m an artist.