Friday, January 7, 2011

The Story Of A Dude

Once upon a time, this Dude wrote a novel.

He wrote a mystery novel that he was proud of, that he felt was worthy of being printed, bound, and sold to the masses. So the Dude starts a blog and tracks his path from unpublished writer to New York Times Bestselling Author. He quits his job (where he was making over 130k a year) and waits for the requests for fulls and offers of representation start rolling in.

Then time passes, as do agents. The Dude stays philosophical, about things, though a hint of frustration starts to peek in. He hasn't started a second novel, whats the point, when his first is worthy of being published and it's not getting selected. Why start a second novel when people are too blind to want the first?

More time and agents wave as they whizz by. His posts become more bitter, angry and expletive filled. He calls out the very agents he's courting, questioning their professionalism, their choices, their jobs. He sends out query bombs to dozens of agents, all the same, assuming agents don't talk about such things in their clandestine circles.

I don't understand the Dude. Yes, this can be an incredibly, soul shatteringly hard business to break into, of that there is no doubt. And many of us never will. Most because they never deserved to in the first place, some because they didn't try hard enough and some simply because they were never in the right place at the right time. Getting upset or depressed isn't a bad thing, the problem with the Dude, where I stand, is that he isn't looking at his writing as a career. Agents are supposed to be your literary soulmates, the person that believes in your books almost as much as you do, the woman or man that wants to see you succeed and will do anything they can to make it happen. You don't find a soulmate by sending out hundreds of identically written letters to anyone that happens to be available. You look into the people and find a few select people that you want to work closely with for the next few/dozen years. Your agent should be someone who believes in you and your work and has great ideas for making it better. Who has great taste in other authors, her other clients. A person that you can be proud to say "Represented by" in front of their name.

And then there's the writing thing. One book. Really? You quit your job making damn good money to devote all of your time and energy into selling one solitary thriller? I don't care how good your novel is, you should be looking at this as a career, not a novel. Why would an agent want to start a long lasting, meaningful relationship with someone that has already written the only thing they can represent? Get out there and write. Write dozens of books, hundreds! Your writing and plotting can only improve the same novel so much, but every new book is a chance to improve.

Where is this vague rant coming from, you may ask? Maybe a little bit of jealousy. I wish I could have had a good job to support my family with, let alone the ability to quit it and try to become an author. I can't imagine how much I'd get done if I didn't spend 10 hours a day returning toothbrushes and toilet paper for customers that don't know how to read an advertisement, let alone a novel.

But mostly, it's a mighty yawp about how much I love this business I've decided to be a part of. I love writing novels, the thrill of creating new worlds and people. I cherish the conversations I've had with my wife about her books, the friendships I've made online because of my writing. I dig the way a marked up manuscript looks in front of me. I'm going about things differently for the next few novels I write, releasing them as e-books and forgoing the agent route entirely, which is it's own kind of adventure.

So I wish the Dude all the best, good luck with your one, obsessively over-edited novel and your hundreds of identical agent queries. I wish you the best with your scotch-soaked diatribes against the business that you want to be a part of. Let the bear eat you. Me, I'm off to write about zombies, hitmen, robots and boy detectives. Even if no one ever reads them, I still love this job!


  1. You know, even if I never get published, I will always write. I can't imagine life being quite right without that part of my life. I love this even if I'm not getting paid(though that would be nice too lol)

  2. Hahah yeah, getting some money back would be nice, wouldn't it? I just started writing a few years ago, I've always been a big reader, and have had plenty of ideas, but I've been blown away how enjoyable it is to actually sit down and write a novel.

    Frustrating as hell at times, but like you said, an incredibly vital part of my life now.

    Thanks for visiting my blog!

  3. I agree. Writing only one book, and only wanting to write that one book, is a little like being a magician with only one trick. It doesn't matter how good you are at it, if you can't show room to expand than why would anyone hire you or want to work with you? I too wish him well but yelling at those you need help from doesn't seem like the right approach.