As a first grader I proudly sang, “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth.” I sang it with conviction – mine were missing.
As an adult my wishes and wants are more sophisticated than a doll or a new toy that “whizzes and zips.” I simply want a literary agent.
A literary agent for all practical purposes is the Santa Claus or the genie of the publishing world. “I wish I had a publisher.” Shazam! Random House or Penguin opens its large padlocked doors – doors open slowly – and they are granted entry to the wizards who determine the value of literature (“literature” with an English accent).
I’m uncertain if I have ever seen a literary agent in person. However, they are everywhere online and in resource books – some genre specific – some even willing to cast their eye on a first-time author’s work – and others – far too busy to accept anyone other than Shakespeare and we’re not certain if he wrote all of his works; but who cares, he’s Shakespeare and Shakespeare sells.
At the start of my publishing venture, I spent hours carefully selecting from an ocean of literary agents. It was like picking numbers at a roulette table. I missed all 12 times. I pushed back from the table and decided this was taking too long. According to the Discovery Channel I was more likely to suffer a shark attack in a lake than I was to land a literary agent. (Not really, but the odds are terrible.)
What does a literary agent’s client have that I don’t? Yes, a literary agent! To be without one of these publishing genies is worse than being in the first grade without your two-front teeth. Am I less deserving of an agent than other modern-day authors? Have you read their work? I have read some and find myself believing that I am equally as deserving of these services. However, these modern-day story tellers have one thing that I don’t and some have a major publisher and a 1# New York Times Bestseller banner on the front cover. I applaud them because they found the missing piece, they figured out the equation, they are brilliantly successful in the publishing world. I have to wonder – have they been struck by lightning in the middle of winter in Alaska or won the lottery? The odds are similar to landing a literary agent. These authors are lucky or related to someone. I know who you are thinking; Shakespeare. Me too!
Shakespeare and I have something in common – besides our love for his work – he was also published without a literary agent. Why not try the “old” way of going directly to the publisher? After all, self-publishing is currently well-accepted and the big publishing houses are offering their services to “anyone” who will pay for them. This is a wonderful idea if you are married to a physician. So I set out and purchased the best editing package available – coupled with my writing and public relations skills – I gave it what I like to call “the old Shakespeare.” (Again, there is some doubt about our old friend but he’s Shakespeare. Who cares!)
The process of publishing took about a year after I’d finished writing. I submitted my manuscript to the editor, designer, and then to the printer. The editing was the most painful and is the point when I wished for a genie, I mean a literary agent. I had chosen to self-publish and when I hit a wall at any point of the publishing process, I had no one to meet face to face to brainstorm, complain or explain. I had paid for an extensive edit and had received what I’d paid for – a professor without office hours.
Even though self-publishing is growing in popularity – I’d like to defect from the revolutionary self-publishing movement. It’s difficult to write, edit, publish and market a book on your own. It is difficult to do it well. I would like a literary agent, possibly one with an English accent who is fond of Shakespeare and more modern English literature -like Brontë and Austin – but believes that modern-day writers can strive for beautiful prose and meaningful stories.
All I want for Christmas is a literary agent who can share my sequel to “Jumpin’ the Rails!” with a publisher and editor who are looking for books like mine. We would have a wonderful working relationship where we’d enjoy conversations of literature (English accent, please) over biscuits and tea at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. We would work to bring classical writing back to the Best Seller’s List – writing that enriches.
If you see me sitting on Santa’s lap and whispering in his ear – now you know what I’m asking for. Why not, he did a great job on my two front teeth. And if you happen to know a literary agent and have read my work and enjoyed even one passage – please tell them that you know an author who needs a literary agent. You can also mention that she’s awaiting her genetic testing results and it’s possible she’s related to Shakespeare (wink, wink).