Agents and Editors… oh my

I feel like a whore… but in a good way. Let’s just say that my weekend at the Texas Writers’ League’s Agents and Editors Conference was both disconcerting and exhilarating. I’ll be honest, I can not believe that I had the cajones to pitch my own work after a 20 year career of pitching other people. It was helpful to remember that agents pitch editors and publishers all the time. They are rejected about as much as I am as a PR person. It’s just math. I pitch 100 journalists and I’m lucky to get a few “hits” out of that. So I hope that I approached agents as steadily and effectively as I approach reporters on behalf of my clients. I get the sense that most of the agents on hand had a genuine affection for writers, which was enormously helpful. But I’ll be honest… the internal dialogue was raging and it went something like this:

“What the hell am I doing here? I hate spitting out pitches and hoping something ‘resonates’ with someone. I sound like a desperate idiot posing as an ‘author.’ Who are these people? I hate that word ‘author.’ It’s so pretentious and weird sounding. I’m a writer. I mean, I know how to write and I’m funny and clever, and I’ve got a kick-ass premise and unique characters. At least that’s what people tell me. Wait, how do they know? They’re not that clever. Well, some are. Now I know how some of my clients have felt being rejected over and over by this reporter, or that one. It sucks. OK, get it together. You’re brilliant. You wrote your first book when you were nine, for crying out loud. When other kids said ‘I want to be a ballerina (or a fireman)’ I said ‘ want to be a writer.’ But that’s not special. There are thousands of book geeks just like me. Hell, the publishing industry is MADE out of girls like. So who am I to… OK shut up. Believe in yourself, stupid. Dreams come true. Did I just say ‘dreams come true?’ Where is my copy of ‘The Secret’, anyway? I need to go through that again. I am a writer. I am successful. My stories enterain and enlighten many people. Yeah, there you go. My blood pressure is normalizing. Good job. I wonder what Ben is doing? I wonder if my perfect little 18 month old knows how neurotic (and clever and brilliant) his Mom is. I wonder if he’ll always have an awareness that his Mom writes books he likes to read. That would be cool. I like this shirt. I’m glad I found it. It’s cheerful. I need to lose weight. I can’t believe I used to be an easy size 6. Maybe if I get an agent, I’ll be too busy to eat! I want to look good at book signings. I’m calling Jenny Craig, like, today.  I think I’ll look over my pitch and see if it sounds OK. Why do I even bother? I never stick with the pitch anyway. I need to do that.”

.. and the brain chatter was absolutely on overdrive this weekend. Although I needed a mental break when I got home, I instead went online for three hours and studied the history of Magical Realism and read through dozens of examples. Then I went to Borders and bought The Penderwicks and Nancy Lamb’s book titled The Writer’s Guide to Crafting Stories for Children. It’s amazing, and thanks to agent Caryn Wiseman for the heads up on an incredible addition to my writing arsenal. I also broke out some other books I’ve been working on (and one other completed one) and beginning to create a strategy to send out some general fiction manuscripts as well to several agents who requested pages for them. I managed to stay up late, late finishing The Giver by Lisa Lowry which I thought rocked the house. All of this and still I have to be bright-eyed to handle my PR clients this morning (which I most certainly am). I’m grateful for them and their faith in me.

After Ben goes to sleep tonight, it’s back to work on the manuscript.


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