finding an agent: worse than online dating

If you’ve been around me at all over the last three months, you’ve probably heard me make the joke that as a debut novelist, the process of finding an agent is worse than online dating. Except it isn’t a joke at all. Not that I’m a huge match.com expert. The one time I tried it many years ago left me permanently scarred even though I went on zero dates.

Let’s hope I have better luck on my agent search.

If you don’t have a literary agent [eligible dating material] running in your social circles, you have to make a list of whom to query [join an online dating site]. That’s hard. There are agent databases [online dating sites] which share basic information like agency [bachelor] address [age, exaggerated height, eye color] and the genres [desired age range, kid preference, hobbies] the agent [prospective suitor] is interested in representing [finding in a partner]. You also get a sampling [photos] of their authors [adventurous vacations] many whom [places] you’ve never heard of [traveled to] which makes you feel guilty because you consider yourself an avid reader [traveler].

I’ve spent weeks amassing my initial list of 20 dream agents [dates]. I could end up querying [trying to date] 50-100, depending on my success with the first tranche [few suitors].

In all seriousness, once my manuscript is ready, the next step is to cold call agents, except I can’t actually call at all because phone calls are prohibited. Some agents accept email, though no attachments. Just one long message that includes cover letter, synopsis (sometimes 2-3 pages, sometimes 10-15) and maybe an excerpt from the beginning of my story. In many cases, you’re instructed to send the cover letter, synopsis and manuscript by snail mail, unless the literary agency has noted to only send a cover letter and synopsis because they’ll reach out if they want to read more.

Each query [photo] has to be personally tailored [perfect] so that they agent’s intern [bachelor’s best friend] who does the first round of cuts doesn’t throw me in the discard pile. I can’t compare myself to any classic writers [supermodels]. I’m supposed to share why I think I’d be compatible with that agent [bachelor].

Oh, and don’t forget to include a SASE for the rejection letter. Yes, you have to pay for your own rejection. That’s worse than a breakup text.

Speaking of, you don’t get rejected on the quality of your work [personality] at all, but on how riveting [gorgeous] your cover letter [photo] is. Are you kidding me? I just wrote a 95,000-word novel [am witty, warm, charming] and I have to catch your attention with my cover letter [looks]?

My first choice agent was written up recently as a rising star. She seems like someone I’d like as a friend. I picture us drinking a bottle of wine and talking books. She happens to be looking for the next hot debut author, a definite bonus. Then I saw her picture. She was wearing great, Chelsea-like eyewear and tall black boots.

Yes, I could work with [date] her.

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time of reckoning

I’m still in a bit of awe that I finished writing the first draft of my novel. It’s the most natural thing I’ve ever done but it also feels like it happened to someone else. I appreciate the warm wishes as I reached that milestone. I’m truly humbled by the positive response and support. And it’s cute when people ask, “when’s it coming out?” because you see, writing the book wasn’t the hard part. I know I can write. (I already wrote the outline and ending to my second book.) But there are many grueling steps to before you’ll find my debut novel gracing bookstore shelves.

The last you heard, I shipped my baby to a professional manuscript consultant to edit. Initially, she told me that she wouldn’t be able to get to it for a week because she was finishing up another project. That was fine with me. I needed some time away from my story and characters.  So imagine my surprise when I received her complete edits last Friday, the day she was scheduled to start reading.

“That was fast,” I wrote her via email. “I’m going to take that as a good sign.”

“It is a good sign!” she replied. “I have a problem manuscript to look at… it needs so much work…Your novel is really strong.” In fact, she couldn’t put it down.

I’ve been on cloud nine over her summary of what she loved: the writing (“it reads real”), my main character (“luminous… so alive”) and the ending (“moving”).  As for what needs work? Well, I haven’t gotten there yet.  There was no way I could read her comments last weekend given the kids’ schedule. Then I was traveling early this week. Yesterday I had my 2014 turn at Warriors. I haven’t had but an hour or maybe two in between gigs, meetings, obligations all week. I’m not avoiding the task at hand. I swear. I look forward to perfecting my manuscript. I need to set a new deadline. But really, I need the luxury of an uninterrupted day to get started.

Lucky for me, the universe is going to deliver. Snow is in the forecast tonight. Enough snow for delays and cancelations tomorrow. With any luck, I’ll be home all day with my manuscript. While everyone in the DC Metro area is rolling their eyes at winter overstaying its welcome, I relish it.

Just please let the power stay on. I have a manscript to polish.

yoga pants: the gateway drug to mom jeans

I love my yoga pants, though I have to admit I don’t do much downward facing dog in them. For yoga, I prefer tight crops especially when practicing in rooms with temperatures 95 degree plus. But for almost every other activity, yoga pants are fair play. Now that I work from home, there are days I never get out of them. Yoga pants are a critical component of this aspiring novelist’s wardrobe.

If I do have to dress up for a meeting, the first thing I do when I get home is change back into my yoga pants. When a friend invites me over, I ask myself: are yoga pants appropriate for this social interaction? More and more, I want to wear them outside the confines of my home office. I try to dress them up, of course, with a sweater and maybe a cute pair of flats or a t-shirt and jean jacket in warmer temps. I had a version of this outfit on over the weekend visiting my college roommate.

Chris: “I wouldn’t have thought to wear my yoga pants with tiger print flats.”

Yep, that’s me. I’ll do anything to justify wearing these most comfortable and flattering of pants.

Because let’s be honest about jeans. They aren’t comfortable. I recently had dinner with a friend (who shall remain nameless) who after our meal, pushed back her chair, unbuttoned the jeans that were digging into her waist, and let me feel the lump of scar tissue in her belly where the button of her jeans typically hit. I mean, ouch.

Nameless friend: “Wouldn’t it be nice if they made jeans with the same stretch as yoga pants?”

Me: “They do. They’re called mom jeans.”

Yes, our love for the comfort of yoga pants makes us yearn for elastic waistbands. I don’t even like my formerly beloved Minnie pants anymore. It’s yoga pants or bust. So please, someone, make yoga pants in workplace appropriate fabrics. Or make denim more comfortable without the stigma of a stretchy waistband. In the meantime, I’m going to go debate with myself whether I can get away with yoga pants for my meeting this afternoon.