It’s time. That’s right. It’s time to stop wallowing in my post-MFA blahs and get to work. I’m talking about an agent. It’s time to dig that fat manuscript out of the pile it’s in in my closet. If I’m ever going to publish the book I wrote — or any future books — I need to find an agent who can help me navigate the publishing world.
I have been avoiding this, because I know it is going to take patience, persistence, probably a lot of luck, and most of all, time. Quite possibly years, but I’m trying not to go there. There is a huge probability that I will fail both to get an agent and to get my book published. (And I’ll do it here, in front of all you people! Ahem. It’ll be great. Really.) I’m not saying that out of insecurity, I’m being realistic. There are bizillions and gabillions of people out there who want to publish books, who’ve written books, who think they can write a book, and who have novels upon novels stashed away in their desk drawers. But: in 2005 only about 170,000 books were published in the U.S. That’s all kinds of books, children’s, textbooks, fiction, nonfiction, reference, everything. And, last year the United States’ book publishing output dropped by 18 percent. So on the one hand you have the bizillions and gabillions of wanna-be-published authors, on the other you have the 170,000 books published a year — and falling.
All that adds up to a high probability that I will see some rejections in my mailbox in the coming months. But rejections in the mailbox are better than a manuscript buried in the closet and no chance at all.
So where to begin? Whatever you want to say about MFA programs, I can tell you that one of the best things I got out of being in one was 1) access to people who had agents; 2) discussions with people who were in the process of looking for agents; and 3) the opportunity to work at an agency myself. I learned a lot about how agencies work, what makes a good book proposal, and what not to do when sending your work to an agent (um, neglect to include your contact info comes to mind, for starters). I’m not saying I’m an expert, because I definitely am not. But I picked up some things that I am hoping will help me in my quest. I guess what I am saying is that I have a plan of attack. I’ll be posting about this process as I go, so stay tuned.