Finding an agent the fun way

Finding an agent the fun way

book cover mockup

This isn’t my book cover, but it could be.

In 2010, my first son was stillborn at 36 weeks. All I wanted during the period of acute grief was to read about others’ experiences with perinatal loss, but there weren’t any books that gave the kind of detail I craved. So I decided that one day I was going to write the book I wanted then.

I started writing last spring and finished the book this past January. The writing process was a revelation. It was deeply healing. I learned about myself and the value and importance of my emotions, not to mention how to be a better writer.

Since then, I’ve gleaned quite a bit about the publishing process, as well. Turns out, it’s harder to get a book published than it is to write one. At least that’s the word on the street. (Last week I went to a reading with the exceptional memoirist Abigail Thomas. When asked what she imagined of trying to get published today she said succinctly, “I’d be fucked.”)

Understandably, publishers are looking for authors with an established platform. Twitter followers and Facebook friends are ready-made customers, the logic goes. If people like you enough to follow or friend you, they’re likely to buy your book. But how do you build your platform if you have no book to promote—people need a reason to follow and friend you in the first place, right?

Well, I don’t have a gargantuan platform (though we be but little, we be fierce!). But I have something even more valuable: the Laws of the Universe.

Last week I was querying agents, which is like writing a cover letter for a job application. You have 500 words, give or take, to sell yourself, your idea, and your writing ability. You gotta research the agent so you can personalize the letter (which takes TIME), and then you essentially cold call them, emailing the letter into the great abyss of cyberspace. You might hear from them or you might not.

I don’t think I’m the only one who thinks this method sucks cojones. I know last week the process left me feeling completely disheartened and utterly sad.

In my practice as an empowerment coach I teach people universal laws that most of us have forgotten. One of these laws is that like attracts like. If you’re positive and energized, you’re likely to attract upbeat people and wonderful experiences to you. Downcast and despairing? Be prepared to met Debbie Downers, to lose your car keys and drop your iPhone in the toilet.

This is true of your mood, your food, your action, your intention, your whole life. High vibes yield rainbows, low vibes yield gum on the bottom of your shoe.

When I traced my gloomy mood over the weekend to all the time I spent querying last week, I remembered my own teaching. I realized I was approaching the process of finding an agent all wrong. Instead of going through a rather awful process that leaves me despondent, I need to find a way to reach these people that’s fun and feels like me.

So this is my resolve…find an agent the fun way. What that looks like exactly, I don’t know yet. Skywriting? Singing telegram to their New York office? We’ll see. I hope by approaching the process authentically, I’ll find an agent that shares my beliefs and believes in my book. And so it is.

For more information about my book, visit thisishowyouknowyourealive.com.