First, let me start by saying that I am officially a dud. I am, at this very moment, sitting in a crowd of people at an Outlaws arena football game (who my brother-n-laws play for professionally) with my lap top, editing my manuscript and thinking only of my blog followers! I asked my husband if he could do something about the ridiculously loud music they are playing between the plays because it is distracting me but he said I’m just being sensitive. Hmpf!
Now that I’ve vented, let us get to the topic at hand. Whether you are self published or on the path to finding an agent, as an author, we all want the same thing – for our work to be noticed. For over a year now, I’ve been sitting quietly in my living room in small town USA screaming into cyberspace for someone to give me a chance, sending out queries, writing revision after revision of my synopsis, trying out new hooks on different agents and hoping to somehow stand out from the rest of the layers in the slush pile. Maybe that’s you too?
Representation is the golden egg to writers, for many have written yet few are published. To quote Alexandria LaFaye, an author I met recently, “less than 2% of the world is published!” This leads me to believe one thing, there is some truth in one of those old cliche’s we writers try so hard to avoid.
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
I’ve been blessed and honored to meet many published authors, either through conferences or festivals and each time I do, I ask them the same question. “How did you find representation?” Nearly every author I have asked tells me they secured an agent or editor through a meeting, conference, pitch session, contest or through a connection they made with another author. Not with a query.
It’s the unfortunate truth. Trying to find an agent can start to feel a bit like playing the lottery. I’m not saying it’s impossible but writers have to be realistic about the chances. Your manuscript is in a pile with many other talented pieces. So what is the solution?
Get to know people!
You’ll be surprised to find that authors and agents are -gasp– people too! I know, I know; writers are introverts by nature and face time just isn’t our thing (sorry if this stereo type doesn’t fit) but it’s time to get crazy and take a risk. Time to get out there and meet people that can teach us the things we need to know, point us in the right direction and sometimes even help us make career changing connections.
How you ask?
You have to leave your house and your comfort zone and probably your zip code. I’m talking conferences, literature festivals, writer’s groups, contests! Grab that paper bag and breathe in and out. It’s going to be okay! And here’s another thing, don’t be afraid to talk to them! What’s the worst that can happen? They might not have the time to talk. Maybe they won’t email you back if you take their card. But….WHAT IF THEY DO! It’s worth that chance isn’t it?
We have a whole summer of conferences ahead of us. Pick one and go! Make a family trip out of it. Make connections while you are there and challenge yourself to know and be known!