I remember when I first started sending work to agents. Naivety means you think maybe you will be different. Maybe it won’t take you as many attempts as people tell you. You picture the telephone call or the email and allow yourself to think: maybe. Usually writers sending their first novels like this are a long way from that phone call. Not always, but the ones who seem to get it sooner, usually have spent a long time learning their craft with perhaps a string of other writing successes. Of course, there will always be exceptions. But one of the things I now realise looking back, is how little I really knew about the ‘job I was applying for.’ Knowing about books as a reader or even as someone who has gone on to study writing at a higher level, does not mean you know about the publishing or writing industry. And trying to find an agent is applying for a job; they want you for a career.
Would you really apply for a job knowing very little?
Would you apply for the job as governor of the Bank of England, because you know how to spend money… very well?
What I’m saying is make sure you know your stuff. And by that I mean not only how to write and have put the hours in, but also have an understanding of the world you want to be a part of.
Looking back at those first failed attempts I realise how far I’ve now come and how much I know now — that I didn’t. When I did finally get the publisher and later (a year ago this month as it happens)… finally the agent, I felt when we met I knew what it was about. I felt happy and confident and relaxed. Now don’t get me wrong, there is still so much I don’t know, and learning has to be continued, but I knew one thing: I was ready. Like really ready. I only thought I was before but I knew then I was hungry for it.
You can’t rush learning. But be prepared.
And enjoy the ride.
Have a great weekend everyone!