I edit for a fabulous company. They are so dedicated to making sure authors and editors have access to pertinent information, they offer online classes (which are basically hour long chat sessions with a professional). I was lucky enough to take one of those classes on Saturday. It involved speaking with an agent.
At first, I wasn't going to attend the class. I thought I knew all there was to know about landing an agent (even though I haven't yet), but then I thought, "What the heck? I'm sure I'll still learn something new." And I did. I asked several questions, along with everyone else, and felt my self-confidence slip away.
It wasn't the agent's fault. She was as nice as could be and incredibly helpful. It's just the nature of the publishing world. It's incredibly competitive.
So what depressed me? Well, first of all, just the prospect of sending out queries is incredibly daunting. I've sent out hundreds so far in my career, and no agent has ever picked me up. I'm not looking forward to the rejection. And there will be rejection.
In our discussion, one of the things the agent brought up was that she isn't overly impressed with authors who have ebooks. Books from some small publishers are okay, but she doesn't take that into consideration when she's looking at potential clients. While she can't speak for all agents, she believes that outlook is pretty consistent across the board.
Where does that leave me? All my books (with the exception of my nonfiction) have been put out by an indie publisher. If no one takes books like that seriously, have I been wasting my time? I mean, you'd think that having that type of experience would count for something, but it doesn't sound like it does. It made me feel like I'd settled, taken the easy way out. But if I hadn't, no one would be able to read my books.
When I told this to my spouse, he tried to make me feel better. He said, "Of course an agent is going to tell you they don't look at authors from small publishers. Where's the money in it for them? But it still gives you experience. I'm sure it will be fine." His words helped, but I wasn't exactly gushing with confidence.
For my question, I asked about how many times you should send an agent something before giving up. I've had my heart set on one agency for a long time, and I've sent them two of my works. They rejected both. The agent told me after that many times, it was probably best to move on and find someone new. Not exactly what I wanted to hear, but I understand her reasoning. Still, it broke my heart.
It also got me wondering about other agents. There aren't a slew of them out there that deal in my genre. Most of them I've queried at least once before. Am I supposed to quit after two or three times because they rejected me? Sadly, that won't leave me a lot of other options.
I truly appreciated being able to talk to an agent and get some insight into their world. Like I said, I did learn some new things, but I didn't come away from the class with a sense of optimism and hope. It was more dread and panic.
One of the good things that I came away from the class with was that agents like to know that authors are working on other projects. They like to know that we aren't one-book wonders. That made me feel a little better because I always have book ideas floating around my head. Will it help me get an agent? We shall see.