Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Person or product

With all the talk about branding and shelf life and marketing, my head is in a whirl about being an author. After years of hard work and learning and writing, and thinking that all there was to being an author was writing a good book, I'm at a loss. Then I read Rachelle Gardner's post about choosing a literary agent and I knew what I wanted to find and how to find it.

I am a writer. It's what I do. It's what I think about. It's what I've always been in one form or another. I write books. I also write articles and short stories, and poetry on rare occasions. I didn't want to sell books, or market, brand, network or make books. I wanted to write. And I have written. But looking for an agent has been a disappointing experience, in part because I was so busy putting together winning queries and packaging myself and my book to tantalize, excite and entice an agent who would be enthusiastic about the work when I should have been thinking about what kind of an agent I want.

I want an agent like Lauren Bacall in the movie version of Stephen King's Misery. I want a clone of Maxwell Perkins or Lewis Jackman in Return to Peyton Place, an agent who sees the person behind the writer and wants to publish everything I write. Someone who sees me as more than a single book. An agent who represents a person -- me -- and not just a book, a single title, or series, and then moves on to the next book.

In all of the rejections from agents I have queried, each has said I'm a good writer, but s/he is not passionate about the book I'm offering. They were excited by my query and proposal package, but just weren't enthusiastic enough about the work. Nowhere in all those polite and politically correct rejections did anyone mention being enthusiastic about me as a writer, a person who turns out good work and will continue to do so. But how do I find an agent interested in more than one project? That is the question.

At this point, I'm not sure. What I do know is that I want an agent who is enthusiastic about representing me and sees me as a writer with a bright future. I'm not my book; that is the product of my imagination, experience, evolution, talent and hard work. It is a product any competent person, or people, can package, market and sell. The engine that drives this assembly line of words and ideas continues to run and produce. I need to find someone who understands that and is passionate about a relationship with me. A relationship with my book is a short term affair. A relationship with me is a long term arrangement. That's the person I want and need. Just point me in the right direction.

No comments: