Great writers are born, not trained. No amount of training or sophisticated degrees will ever turn you into a great writer if you do not have the gift. A good writer at best, but if that extra special element that captivates the readers from the first to the last page is missing, then you will struggle and be doomed to Planet I-wrote-a-book-but-nobody-liked-it, or so I have been told in various manners. Having said that, and produced three books thus far, much to the dismay of my finances and the delight of the tax office, the hunt is on for a literary agent. It is very much like going on safari, determined to capture a lion or a giraffe with my camera lens, but ending up with a bunch of upside down trees on my memory card instead. These are elusive creatures and impossible to draw out if they are not biting.
My search for an agent began actually last year, but after the first dozen rejections, I lost my nerve. There is only so much an ego can take at a time! Good reviews do not an agent guarantee! One year later, with the support of a good publisher and very encouraging reviews, the world paints a different picture. My debut novel Wings at Dawn is my precious baby, another child conceived with love (for writing) and passion (for social activism). The pregnancy was like my actual physical one, a delightful time during which I indulged in all the changes my and soul underwent. Like any other author on this planet, the birth pains were excruciating, riddled with fear, insecurity, and uncertainty. Those dark moments of doubt keep me awake at night, as I wonder what the future of the book will be, and what my destiny is as an author.
One thing is certain, I am reaching the end of my rope as far as independent marketing tools are concerned. There is only so much you can do through social media, and those are powerful tools already, if you know where to tap into and have the budget for it. But these are just baby steps in the grown-up playground, and I want to play with the big boys. So back to the desk it was, and this time to draft a more convincing pitch to the potential literary agents. The first thing to decide is where I want the agent located and what exactly is my ultimate goal. Approaching an agent with no vision or plan in mind is completely lame, and will not get me noticed, or so all the guidelines tell me. And they have a point. Then there are all the pitfalls to watch out for, and make sure that the agencies I am approaching are reputable and have successful authors on their portfolio.
It was an interesting learning curve to discover what the different agents in different countries require. Finding an agent in Germany that represents English fiction was no easy job, but with a little patience and a lot of research, in narrowed down my search and submitted my queries. The British agents, like their publishers and bookstores, are the toughest to approach, but if I can just get one foot in the door there it would be a feather in my cap! Then there is the plethora of literary agents in the USA. Before approaching any of them, however I made sure I did the research and read the agency as well as the agent reviews.
Yes, hours, days, and weeks have gone into this, and I am exhausted. You reach a point where the ugly ghost of self-doubt begins to rear its ugly head again, but I squash it by telling myself that nobody ever said becoming a viable published author and finding a literary agent was going to be a walk in the park!