Lately, I've been noticing the lemming-like rush on the part of new writers to land an agent. The problem is, they haven't finished their books, yet, and furthermore, they seem to think that if ten or twelve agents turn them down flat, then it's time to approach other agents, as many as 100. And when I say, haven't finished their books, yet, I mean, they haven't really done excellent rewrites, found excellent beta readers, gone back to the drawing board, and dug so deep that they hit pay dirt. Some secretly believe it's "good enough" to send out.
I have a problem with that. In fact, I think this is misguided, wishful thinking. But to each his or her own; after all, who am I to judge? Frankly, there are some bad books out there, which is another cause for dismay, and belongs to another blog post.
That being said, as far as I'm concerned, it is a wise writer who carefully researches a prospective agent, and having selected a few choice potential matches, approaches that handful, sits back and waits. Maybe no one will bite, maybe one or two might want to see entire manuscripts, but ultimately take a pass in a form rejection letter.
Isn't it quite obvious, if after six agents do this, there just might be something not quite right with the work and not the agent?
A very wise writer friend told me she sat down and composed her "dream" list of agents, numbering around a dozen or so, and sent off her queries to half of them, just to test the waters. She figured that if she got no bites at all, she'd revisit her book, and examine the structure for cracks, re-finesse the paint, mow the front lawn once more, before approaching the next handful. Why? Because she didn't want to send out anything less than perfect to the next group. She didn't want to burn all her bridges.
As it turned out, she needn't have worried because she found an agent -- a great guy -- on her first round of submissions.
I've worked with two agents on various projects in non-fiction and the children's market, but I haven't looked for an agent for adult fiction because I am not ready yet. When I am, I just know I'll never find 100 agents whom I'd feel would be right for me, because I honestly think that's a myth. Mind you, I am not writing in a particular specialty field, although even if I were, I'd still be skeptical about loads of agent possibilities. Loads? Really?
I still believe the best advice out there is the advice that reminds the hungry-to-be-published-via-real-publishers: Write the very best book you can. And
for obvious reasons, this is the advice most ignored. In a psychological way, it's a real downer. Some writers don't have sufficient skills to climb to the next rung. They don't want to admit this. They don't want to know they still have a lot more to learn, that they may never learn.
Then again, persistence does pay off. So, perhaps it would be better to focus on writing, writing, reading, reading, and not so much on agent blogs, gossipy, snippy diva-pods, and the latest news about Kindles versus real books in bookstores.