It’s hard to believe that another year just flew by… it seems that the older I get, the faster they fly!
As always, on New Year’s Day, I, like many other people, think about those time-honored New Year’s resolutions.
Last year, I made only two major resolutions – to find a literary agent, and to spend more time doing the volunteer work I do at my local animal shelter.
I did spend more time volunteering, so one resolution was realized!
As for finding a literary agent – in all fairness to myself, I did delineate measurable, specific steps I would take to achieve this goal, and I did fulfill all the steps I outlined in my resolution.
I thoroughly researched agents and sent out numerous query letters in an effort to find an agent to represent me in marketing several children’s picture books and early chapter books I’ve written to publishers.
Before sending out these manuscripts, I also revised and re-revised them, and paid for critiques from noted editors at writer’s conferences I attended.
So these manuscripts were in tip-top shape, and, according to the critiques, were very marketable.
But no, the agents I queried did not want to represent me.
So I did succeed in one respect – I took the steps I resolved I would take – but did not achieve the end result I hoped for.
Does this mean I failed?
Actually not, since I succeeded in doing everything I could have done to achieve my goal.
Although I did not achieve what I wanted to achieve, that part of the equation was out of my hands; I have absolutely no control over the decisions that individual agents make.
In that respect, I did not fail, but my plan did fail.
As for the reasons it failed, it could have been any of a number of things or combination of things.
It could be that I am a lousy writer, that I have no idea how to write a query letter, that the manuscripts about which I queried are poorly written, that the ideas behind these manuscripts are worthless, that the agents I queried did not like my manuscripts enough to want to represent them, that the agents are part of a vast conspiracy to foil my aspirations, that the agents did not even bother to read my queries, or any of a number of other reasons.
I can easily dispel the first few possibilities.
Even though it is tempting for me to conclude that I lack any writing skills, I know this is untrue because I have published hundreds of magazine articles, more than 50 educational books for children and teenagers, numerous short stories and poems, picture books, and a book for writers.
I know that I am also good at writing query letters because my query letters have helped me get many writing assignments and sell many manuscripts.
I also know that the manuscripts I sent out are well-written and are based on good, salable ideas.
So that leaves the possibilities raised about the agents in question.
I know that at least a few of them read my query letters/manuscripts, since several wrote personal notes stating that they liked the manuscripts, but did not love them enough to want to represent them.
As for the conspiracy theory – well, I don’t really believe it, even though it sometimes seems that literary agents automatically send out rejection letters to every author who sends a query (based on experiences of several writer friends).
So the most logical real reason that none of the agents elected to represent me is that my manuscripts, and perhaps me, as an author, were not a good match for those individuals.
Serenity and Control
The lesson I learned is that my favorite guiding philosophy, known as The Serenity Prayer, applies to New Year’s resolutions and agent-seeking missions, just like it does to every other aspect of life.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with this gem, it states: “Grant me the serenity to accept those things I cannot change, the courage to change those things that I can change, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
I did the best job I could do on the parts of my resolution that I had the power to control – the agent research, query letter writing, and manuscript crafting and submission.
And I just have to accept what happened with the parts over which I have no control.
So will I keep trying to land an agent?
Maybe, but not right now.
I’m not someone who gives up easily.
In the past, I have submitted some manuscripts to publishers many, many times before having them accepted for publication.
But in this case, I have realized that it may be more productive to submit these manuscripts to publishers myself.
Even though many children’s book publishers no longer accept submissions from un-agented authors, there are still enough good ones that do accept such submissions.
So I am submitting to these publishers myself, just like I have done for more than thirty years, in hopes of selling these books.
And I am not submitting to any more agents at this time.
Although I am very much a go-getter and do not like to depend on fate to determine my professional success, I also know that many times, things that we want to happen do not happen for good reasons.
So I can’t help but think that maybe God is telling me that this is not the right time for me to seek and succeed in finding an agent.
About Melissa Abramovitz
Melissa Abramovitz is an award-winning author/freelance writer who specializes in writing educational nonfiction books and magazine articles for all age groups, from preschoolers through adults.
She also writes short stories, poems, and picture books, and is the author of the book for writers, A Treasure Trove of Opportunity: How to Write and Sell Articles for Children’s Magazines.
Melissa graduated summa cum laude from the University of California, San Diego with a degree in psychology and is also a graduate of The Institute of Children’s Literature.
She is a member of SCBWI and The Working Writer’s Club. Visit her website at www.melissaabramovitz.com