Before book apps were invented, there were agents. Before e-books and print on demand books and even some of today's publishing companies were established, there were agents. In fact the first known literary agent opened for business way back in 1875. He was the original gatekeeper between a writer and a publisher. He took his job seriously and demanded the best from each and every writer who sought his representation.
In over 135 years THAT hasn't changed. Literary agents today still demand the best from the writers who seek them out. Writers like me who know without their support and guidance my path to publication may be a nearly impossible journey to make. So I polish my stories and send them out with a wish and a prayer...into the hands of the agents. People who test the publishing waters before my stories ever get to them. They have a strong intuition of what sells and what won't. They take calculated risks as they sift through the slush pile and mounds of queries loading down their inboxes each day and reject the stories they know they can't be passionate about.
And the rejection letters return home to the writers...words of regret that their story wasn't chosen and a wish for better luck next time. Sometimes just empty silence screaming louder than any words actually could. What's a writer to do?
When I decided it was time to start submitting my stories this year, I also decided I would take the bad with the good. That I would accept the rejections from agents as simply part of being fully vested in this writer's life. And you know what? Today I decided to set a goal of just how many agents I'm willing to let reject my story in the hopes it will find a home of it's own one day.
My number is 100. I won't start considering Plan B until I have received 100 rejections for each manuscript I send out. Standing alone, 100 seems like a pretty big number to me. But when you consider there are thousands of literary agents in the world...heck, maybe tens of thousands...then a measly 100 isn't too much to ask for, is it?
So think about it the next time you open an email or a letter from an agent...only to read "I'm so sorry but your story isn't the right fit for our company". That might make THEM feel better for having sent it but really doesn't make YOUR day. THAT's when you need to decide...
What's YOUR number?
I've only got 95 more to go on my first story...