Trying To Find a Literary Agent Is the Worst Thing Ever

Even successful writers have a hard time finding an agent. But don’t take our word for it…visit Ken Pisani and take in his words on his visit to writer hell:

writer-hellby Ken Pisani

Anyone who’s ever dated regularly, tried to score against LeBron James, or been a transplanted organ knows what it’s like to face rejection. But no one understands the pain of rejection better than a first-time novelist looking for an agent.

It all starts with writing a query letter asking for the thing you probably won’t get, like a toddler who wants a cookie before dinner. My own query pled my case as a TV writer and a frequent Web contributor, while attempting to distill the novel I’d worked on for years into a single paragraph that almost made sense. I included the first 10 pages of the novel and hit 22 agents in 30 days, like a budget tour of Europe during which you see nothing.

Which is exactly what I saw for the next month: nothing. Many agents simply don’t reply if they’re not interested; it’s the same reaction you’d get from shouting “Hey baby, hey baby, hey baby” at a woman on the street, although hopefully you wrote a stronger query letter than that. But even the deafening silence that seemed to shriek of my incompetence, not just as an author but as a writer of query letters, would soon seem preferable to the sting of the actual rejection.

The first thing I learned about rejection is that agents are very, very sorry—nearly every rejection contains an apology or some regret: “I am sorry, but we cannot take it on at this time”; “We regret to inform you…”

Some of them are frightened: “I’m afraid I have to pass”; “I’m afraid this isn’t right for me.” How can you get an agent if you keep scaring them like that? It seemed that my timing was terrible: many rejections concluded with phrases like “not right for us at this time,” with no indication of a better time in the future—or even the past, should I invent a time machine. They also wished me “all the best,” although not enough to want to represent me….

Read it all at Publishers Weekly