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A Legitimate Author?

This week has had its fill of frustration. I always try to focus on the positive and look on the bright side, but as a human, I sometimes fail. Plus, I used to be a really grumpy and angry person, so it doesn’t take much for me to revert to my natural state.

It started on Sunday when I received a rejection. It was a very lovely and thoughtful rejection, but it was still a rejection. I allowed myself a moment of anger and frustration (and by moment I mean at least a day). Now, don’t get me wrong, the critique the agent gave me was invaluable and her heart was in the right place. What frustrated me was the process.

Some days, it feels like querying agents is some kind of masochistic act. I know that the vast majority (if not all) are going to come back as a NO. If I get a response at all. So why do I put myself through the process? Why do I bother? I already have a publisher interested in the book, so why am I dragging out that process?

I voiced these issues to an author friend of mine, who knows all too well about the trials, tribulations, frustrations, and anger that come with finding an agent. (She actually has one, but she had to go through the same heartache at one point.) I asked her why I was wasting my time. And her response was so that I could be legitimate.

Part of me knows that she’s right. An agent would make me feel like a “real” writer and that I finally made it in the publishing world. It’s what I’ve strived for with every book I’ve ever written and am still trying to attain. But as the week went on and the frustrations (not related to writing) mounted and piled up, I came back to her statement.

What does it really mean to be a legitimate author? It would be so easy if having an agent meant that, but how do you go about getting one? I’ve read the articles and advice and sent out my queries and done resubmissions and I still don’t have an agent.

I know writers who have had agents, but then the agent downsized because they were too busy and dropped the writer. I’ve known writers with agents that couldn’t sell manuscripts to publishers so the author decided to self-publish—and has been completely happy with the decision. So I asked again: does having an agent make me legitimate?

I’m still not sure I have an answer to that question. And I’ll admit, if an agent emailed tomorrow and said they wanted me as a client, I would jump all over that opportunity like zombies on a human. There’s nothing wrong with having dreams and going after them. But, at some point, I feel like I need to re-evaluate those dreams and figure out if they are truly attainable. After all, I have some wonderful publishers who are willing to take my work because of my name alone. Technically, I’ve achieved my dream of becoming a published author.

In the end, I took the agent’s rejection for what it was. I appreciated her insight and criticism, and I moved on. It’s not the end of the world. It’s not even the end of my writing career. I have to write what I want to write, and someone, somewhere will enjoy it. That made me smile. Literally, a grin broke out on my face when that realization hit me.

All I can be is who I am. And that means there will be ups and downs and bumps along the way. But the best part of that journey is that I’m doing what really makes me happy. I’m writing. If there’s something in that process that takes the fun out of writing, I need to stop that, not writing.