I may be cutting my own throat, burning a bridge (if there were one) … or it might just be that I am a loser.
Think what you will think, most people do anyway … but here’s my story on why I think chasing literary agents is a waste of time.
Putting Together a Book Proposal
I spent nearly 2 months putting together a book proposal for a non-fiction book. I created multiple iterations and had a highly qualified friend take a look and give feedback.
Question – How do I know she is highly-qualified?
Answer – Check out these qualifications:
She has 3 times successfully landed a literary agent. Twice for fiction and once for nonfiction.
She has multiple times had articles published in ‘prestigious’ magazines and online sites.
She used to do book reviews for very highly respected newspaper on the left coast.
She knows her stuff and held nothing back in telling me what I should and should not do with my book proposal.
I also got online, read a BUNCH of websites owned by literary agents and publishing houses to learn from them as well what was needed, wanted in a proposal.
I finally had a proposal I could confidently submit.
Literary Agents Have More Hoops to Jump Through
A proposal, however, is not all that a literary agent wants.
Literary agents say they want:
a personalized email submission / query letter that shows I care, took the time to reach out to them because they are a match. Yeah, right.
a social media presence that is worth tooting about. Yeah, right again.
So, I took this advice to heart. I spent on average an hour and a half per email query.
3 Steps to Choosing a Literary Agent to Contact
I went to the agent’s site or the agency site where the agent was attached.
I read bio after bio and clicked through to read up on books they had represented.
I picked out that one agent who resonated, who said they were interested in the book-type I was writing.
Example – My book is about raising bi-cultural kids. I found a bi-cultural agent in Kansas or some such place from the 2 cultures I am writing about! I could tell from her name, and wrote personally to her … because of her name, because she said she was interested in the kind of book I was writing. Silence.
I tailored EVERY single email I sent out to each agent or agency, mentioning books they had represented and their interests and explaining how my book idea was a match. EVERY ONE!
Solid Research in my Marketing Statistics
Yes, yes … I did my market research. My book proposal was solid. No making up of numbers. Solid.
But and this might be a big BUTT, or but for most would-be authors … gotta have a social media presence. What about that?
Go Ahead – Check Out My Social Media Platform
I have two very relevant Twitter accounts with more than 90,000 combined targeted followers. That’s a big number, right?
I have a local F2F network of followers that reaches over 30,000 people. Real people. Who follow me. That’s a big number, right?
More than 140,000 visitors have come to my personal site more than 200,000 times! Organically! Those are big numbers, too, right?
I included screenshots in my book proposal as proof. Did I say my proposal was solid?
I had opening chapters, outline for the project. And everything else that my coach and the many websites said I needed. Did I say my proposal was solid?
I spent a minimum of 100 hrs researching agents and agencies, writing personalized emails and sending them out and waiting 6 weeks to 3 months (are you serious?) to get an answer … one way or the other … or more accurately … to NOT get an answer.
I got one ask for more information. I got almost a dozen canned responses. And a full 80% of my queries got no response whatsoever. So, I sent them out again! Yeah, I can hit resend. But only after I further personalized the email and mentioned, that they must be busy and what not.
More zilch. Nada. Zero. Zip. No answer. Can you really get more of nothing? More silence I suppose.
Do the math before thinking Literary Agent
100 hrs and one ask for more info. The way I figure, I need to get 30 asks for more information in order to finally get the agent. 30 x 100 hrs = 3,000 hrs. People don’t work that much in one year!
So, how much do I pay myself per hour. $10/hr? $100/hr? If I paid myself minimum wage I’d be spending $30K just to get an agent!?!? And I still don’t have a publishing deal or an advance. That would take even more time and revisions … and with NO guarantee. And if I got an advance I’d still have to write the book AND share with the agent.
In which universe does this make sense?
Agents are self-proclaimed gatekeepers AND lousy ones at that.
Furthermore … I think they are just dishonest at worse … or completely overwhelmed with so much trash that it’s now impossible to get noticed unless there is an introduction.
Agents say – we need this, this and this. And I provided that, that and that. Did I say my proposal was solid?
And I couldn’t even get them to read the email, much less respond.
Chasing literary agents is a waste of time. Or maybe … I am just a loser.
Teaching a little girl to love to read | Mia’s Fantasy | Cooking Up Adventures
Bill Belew has raised 2 bi-cultural kids, now 34 and 30. And he and his wife are now parenting a 3rd, Mia, who is 8.
— Cooking Up Adventures—
While Mia was placing the tiara on her head and checking the fit her carpet brought her back to land. As Mia stepped off the carpet she turned to say ‘thank you’ to the carpet, but the carpet was gone!
She remembered that the carpet could hear her think.
As Mia turned around again she found that she was standing outside a restaurant.
In the restaurant there was some beautiful music playing – horns and strings and drums and piano and singing. But by now Mia was very hungry! Mia went in and met a little girl who was learning to cook from her daddy.
Mia and the little girl sat down together and told stories of the swamp land and her new friend’s dream to become a chef and own her own restaurant someday.
“How fun!” Mia thought. Mia not only loved to eat, she loved to cook, too!
Mia asked her friend if she could help make something to eat, too. Mia was quite good at making pancakes she told her new friend. Her daddy taught her how to cook, too?
Her new friend was happy that Mia was going to teach her how to make pancakes.
We have beaten the backpack to death. Well, not really. But Mommy says that everything daddy uses he destroys … so it’s kind of like daddy was beating this backpack to death, right?
We have used it a LOT … more daddy than me. As for me, I make sure I have my stuff, books, blankie (sh!), bowling ball (just kidding) and other stuff in the backpack whenever we are on the road.
We took the backpack on the road, too. The backpack has traveled with us enough miles to go around the world. Really. To China and back. Back and forth across the United States. Next month to Mexico and back.
Daddy Doesn’t Want for Much
I don’t know how daddy does it but the backpack is the ONLY thing he uses when he travels.
Daddy says he doesn’t want for much. He also doesn’t take much when travels. That’s good. More room for my stuff … see above.
Daddy takes power strips and his Samsung Chromebook, and maybe some drillies (look it up maybe?) when he travels. And that’s about it. Oh … power cords, spare cell phone chargers and other heavy stuff. Daddy says, “No problem. Everything I need fits in this backpack. And the pack is sturdy enough to handle any load. Except for maybe that Sumo wrestler statue we tried to smuggle out of Japan.”
It has zippers everywhere to get in and out of. Kind of reminds us of the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. You can go in one door and come out in totally different location.
What Daddy Does When Mommy Isn’t Watching
Daddy carries the backpack upright and longways. He hangs his keys on it and can toss it in the back seat … when mommy is not watching, of course.
His Chromebook seems well protected. The carton of eggs, however … Seriously? Did you think we would try that? We didn’t. Well, I didn’t. Daddy might.
Daddy says the only problem he has with it is that it’s really hard to get it to stand up. Lay down on its side or on its back, no problem. But stand up? Problem. Even so, we managed to offer it a bone just long enough to take the picture you see in this post.
Our recommendation – we hope it lasts another 10 years or so. Daddy says he’ll probably be dead by then. “Imagine being outlived by a backpack. I’ll never need to buy another.”
As for me … yellow is cute and go girl or boy. Can I get one in pink, plz?