It’s been a pretty good month.
After finishing my novel, I immediately started looking for literary agents. With a day job once again looming in the horizon, my time is limited, and I really had to get on it. I branded my novel in a couple of different ways, depending on who I was sending excerpts to. I started to get a little panic-y when I kept reading things like “willing to read any genre except Western” on agent’s web pages. Just because you have preconceived notions about what a genre is doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give anything in it a chance. I mean, you may hate the horror genre, but the book Beloved by Toni Morrison falls into that genre AND is completely mind-blowing and has overwhelming cultural significance. I can just imagine how many agents would reject something like that out of hand saying something like, “Well, there’s a ghost in here….it doesn’t matter as much that she’s the ghost of a baby murdered by her own mother to keep her from returning to slavery as the fact that she’s a ghost and that makes this horror.” I’m not comparing myself to Toni Morrison by any means, nor my book to Beloved, I’m just trying to illustrate that you can’t judge a book by its genre. Anyway, I ended up selling the book as “historical fiction” in lots of query letters rather than as an “acid western.”
And still, I’ve gotten a bunch of rejection letters this week alone. I keep following up, trying to get some information about agents that the rejecting agents think might be into something like what I’ve written, but absolutely no one has responded to them. I started getting a little worried, thinking, “No one is going to want to represent this book. Westerns don’t sell. No one will give it chance. Ever.”
Today, I was on my computer with a browser tab open to my email. I got that little (1) in it that shows me I have a new message, that gives me the little thrill of excitement I get from the little red notification bubble on Facebook, or a orange notification symbol here on WordPress, or even (since I still write actual letters to people) the one I get when I find a hand addressed envelope in with my bills. It was an email from one of the agents I queried.
“Probably a rejection,” I thought. “As usual.”
Then, I read these glorious words:
This sounds really cool.
Can you send me the complete manuscript?
I know it’s not the same as getting an agent. But you have to understand. Even though this is my “first” novel (by that I mean the first one that is really worth anything and was written at a point when I consider myself a mature writer), this is not my first experience trying to find an agent. Just a few months ago I decided to try to get a short story collection published and was rejected at every turn. This is the very first time that an agent has shown any interest in what I’ve written.
I think it helps a little that this guy doesn’t discriminate by genre.
So today I sent along the entire Word document of The Devils That Have Come to Stay to someone who’s actually interested in reading it.
Cross your fingers for me!