To Agent or Not To Agent
By: D.L. Rogers
That is the Question.
You’ve written your book. Beta readers and editors have torn it to shreds. You’ve re-written it three dozen times and even cried over it. The critical time has arrived. What do you do with it? Do you go the traditional route by obtaining an agent, or self-publish?
After sixteen novels and one novella, I still don’t know the answer. I tried for years during the “snail mail” years to publish several different books. I waited weeks, sometimes months, to get that letter (sometimes on the same query letter I sent out) saying, thank you, but no thank you. Then I found her—a New York agent. We worked together for two years revising and making my story better. It went to six “big” houses before she sent the dreaded letter that said, “I think your work is publishable, but I’m not the agent to get it done.”
I cried. I stopped writing. I was chastised by my son and told to get out there and do it myself. So I did. And here I am with all these books under my wing, a strong local fan base and loving what I do.
So, what’s the problem?
I still want to have that verification that says YOU’RE A REAL WRITER by being published by a traditional house. Twenty years into this adventure, I decided to give it another try. And now I wait. Is it worth it? To have that confirmation you really ARE a writer? Or do your readers confirm that every time they buy your books—again and again and again.
As I wait, checking my email over and over throughout the day, looking for the notification that says “we want you” from the agency, I had an epiphany. I write now for my readers. For the joy I see in their eyes when we meet at my events and I sign my name on the book or books they purchased. IF I get picked up by an agent and eventually a traditional house, I won’t lie—I’ll be happy. But you have to do what you love in the interim. Write. Be happy doing what you love for people who love it—while you still go for that golden ring. There’s no law against it.
They key? Never stop learning. Always work toward producing a better product for your reader, no matter how many books you’ve written. Never be satisfied and never give up. Always move forward and be overjoyed when that new reader says “I loved your book. I couldn’t put it down.”
Your readers ARE the affirmation. You ARE a writer.