So, here’s the thing. The writing world makes me incredibly peeved, incredibly often, and I kind of feel like venting about it at the moment, so here you go.
As an indie author, I was intrigued by a recent article on “How to Query Agents for a Self-Published Book.” After reading, however, I just feel discouraged and irritated about how authorship has evolved. It is advised in the article that you shouldn’t query an agent until you’ve sold 2,000 – 3,000 paperbacks, or 10,000 – 20,000 ebooks. Agents also want you to have a heavy social media presence, thousands of avid followers, and connections galore. I might sound like a total whiner-baby when I say this, but that leads me to ask, how is it possible to get an agent with these standards and expectations? It’s the impossible balance: either you have little success and therefore need an agent and publisher to aide you in connections, or you already have connections and therefore don’t really need an agent at all. It’s like when employers aren’t willing to hire employees who have no experience. How the hell am I supposed to get experience, then??
The thing is, I’m a writer. I love writing. I wish everyone in the world knew about my writing and enjoyed it as much as I do, but I’ll be the first to say that I’m terrible at networking. Why? Because, quite frankly, I hate networking. I hate being pushy, I hate “using” people for their connections as a means to an end, and I hate talking to people with the “how can I tell them about my book” agenda in the back of my mind. I could be more present on social media, but I don’t want to be. Because I’m not a teenager, sitting on my couch on Facebook for hours a day. I’m an adult who has a job, bills to pay, and loves to write. When I have free time, I want to write in that free time. And it completely baffles me that publishers and agents don’t appreciate and value that.
Seriously, how does that make sense? You want to represent an author, but you expect them to spend more time on Twitter than they do on their work. It might be completely disrespectful to say this, but I’m willing to bet every struggling author out there is already thinking it, so it might as well be said. If I have to work so hard to gain a following, make sales, make professional connections, get my foot in the door all over the country… then what am I paying you for? What’s the point in having an agent if all of this is still up to you, the author, to accomplish?
To be clear, I don’t have an agent. I’m not directing my comments at anyone in particular (obviously… that would be horrendously rude). I’m just expressing my frustration with the way the writing world has evolved. It makes me sad that in order to be a successful author, you have to be an even more successful networker. You have to make networking your top priority, your first love, and writing just kind of takes a back seat. That’s not what I want. So as much as I wish I could be successful in this field, and as much as I still hope to accomplish that someday, I’m never going to sell my soul to the cold, harsh networking world. It makes me sad to realize my dreams may never come to fruition because I’m not aggressive enough to get the “numbers” I need to be worth anything to agents and publishers.
I’m mostly writing all of this to vent my frustration, but I’m also documenting these feelings as a reminder to myself. I love to write, and I would love to be able to make enough money on my writing that it could be my fulltime career. But I also want to enjoy my life. I want to spend time with my family and the friends who care about me, not waste all of my time trying to be noticed by people who will forget me the minute I become “old news.” I would love to be published because I would love for my story to be heard by a larger audience, but more importantly, I want to have a happy life and enjoy my time on this earth doing the things I love. This is a truth I need to remember, moving forward as an author.