Sunday, January 31, 2016

Why I Want an Agent

Photo ©  Lori Gravley.  
I have my writer’s group.  Over five years, almost 52 weeks a year, we’ve met, growing only large enough to fit at a single table, though sometimes I notice others join us and write along. Not for four hours like we do and not at 7 AM, like we do.  So, I’ve got my writing group.  Sometimes, I meet them other days and we gossip and complain and plan and cajole and support and then we write.  We always write.

And I’ve got my critique group.  We all have a practice that works.  And we practice and we read and we share what we read and we share the work and look at the work from angles, finding its facets and trying to make it shine a little brighter.

And I’ve got old friends and students.  We email and message and like and smile at each other from a distance. 

I’ve got my presence.  I post a blog a week now, and three or four encouraging messages on my author feed.  I post photographs to Instagram, sometimes incessantly.  Beauty is everywhere.  And I’ve got my website, and every time someone puts one of my words online, I share it there.  And tinker here and there and grow my friends.  And I read poems I love on the radio at WYSO Public Radio in Yellow Springs, OH, not all the time, but a couple of times a month.  And really, I don’t want to do much more than that because all that leaves just enough time to show up for work, everyday.  And I do.  Two hours or more each day, including weekends.  During the week, I aim for six-hour days, but no matter what (even when I'm traveling around the world for the work that pays the bills), two hours.

What I don’t have, and what I desperately want is an advocate, an adviser, someone to help me grow my career, someone to run my too many ideas by and help me parse out which ones might sell.  Someone who lives inside that publishing world I’ve danced around for so long who can show my work to people who will love it.  I want another pair of trained eyes to look at my work and ask me just the right questions.  I want someone who will believe in me when I can’t quite muster that belief and who will allow me to work knowing that my work might just find the right readers. 

I want a midwife and a doula.  Fifteen percent of what I earn seems a reasonable fee for someone who will do my work in the world so that I can work in the worlds I’ve made in my head. 

I could publish things on my own, and I might.  The historical projects I’m working on may not be saleable.  Or maybe the contemporaries with their little edge of paranormal will have missed the shining paranormal moment in publishing as a reader last year said.  In that case, with these projects I love, I’m willing to work on my own and even pay to get them out in the world.  Someone out there needs those books, and they can’t find them on my hard drive. 

I can publish things on my own.  I’m a poet.  I write a lot of poems that I have to send out (220 last year, thanks Duotrope), so it’s not that I’m afraid to do the hard work of sending things out.

But even with all the opportunities to publish on my own, I want someone on my side.  Someone who will take those saleable concepts and sell them, or at least try.

I want an agent. 

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