Respect Yourself, Respect Your Work

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Many writers who are ready to approach an agent, do so with either a sense of awe, fear, and an “I’m not worthy,” sort of mentality.  For the past few years, I’ve been reading Janet Reid’s blog.  If you haven’t been following her, you should.  And while you’re at it, if you are a writer ready  to query your work, it wouldn’t hurt to also follow her other blog, Query Shark, before you do.

Go ahead, go follow those now.  I’ll wait.

Back?  Great.

So, what Ms. Janet tries to instill in the writers who follow her is about the importance of writing and what it means to agents.  These are my words, but what she wants is for writers to stop crawling on their bellies around the feet of agents.  She helps us understand what a true relationship with an agent means.  First and foremost, it is and should be a relationship of mutual respect.  Agents need and want our work.  Make no mistake, they love finding new talent.  They get excited about it and are eager to present the work to the publishing world.  They want nothing more than to make “the call,” to a writer.

If you plan/want to go the traditional publishing route, you need one.  If you don’t believe me, *read her latest post about an author who was able to place his book with a small press.  You need them to open doors with publishers, negotiate the *best contract for your work, to be your advocate and liaison should something go amiss while working with one of those publishers, and to manage your royalty payments.  And, there are, I”m sure, a lot of other things they do.

Many times I’ve read on JR’s blog, as well as other sources online, about writers who have two views of agents.  Most are like the above, where they are almost afraid to contact an agent to represent them, as if they would be “bothering” them.  They have something in hand they’ve spent years perfecting.  They’ve cried over it, slaved over it, sweated over it.  Feeling, at best, hopeful, and at worst, like dog doo on someone’s shoe, they finally take the plunge and hit send.  And for the next while, they chew their nails off and drink copious amounts of…whatever.

And then there are the ones who thing agents are only out to gouge them, who believe agents are crooks waiting in dark corners, ready to pounce on the poor unsuspecting writer.   (yes, there are bad agents – but that’s a whole other post.)

The main point here, and what Ms. Janet preaches is; respect yourself, and your work.  (Of course, a little humility never hurts…, but, don’t act like a pompous ass either.  A nice balance is what you want)  Writers serious about approaching agents, should do so with the understanding they value you, your work, and they will recognize talent.  They want to put your work before an audience.

There is no need to grovel.  No need to act like you have to have permission to belly up to the trough.  No need to be afraid.  You’ve worked hard.  You have a “product.”  You have something to offer.

You’ve spent all this time on your craft, shouldn’t it be worthy of your respect?

***SIDE NOTE:  You will notice less frequency of posting here.  This is because I am in head down, working mode.  In my last post (Corn Maze) I wrote about the struggle to find my ending.  Until I get there, and type the ever elusive THE END, I need to stay as focused as possible on the manuscript.

Hopefully, soon, a post titled THE END will pop up.  And then, the revisions begin.  :)

2 thoughts on “Respect Yourself, Respect Your Work

  1. Janet Reid is a must read for any author. Great post.
    BTW I too am in the “head down, working mode”. Good luck with your ending. Knowing when to shout STOP, that’s enough, and making the close, is my thing right now.

    I love what I’ve done and am proud but getting an agent to love it too and believe they can sell it, that’s another whole story. I don’t have doubts about the writing but it’s different, very, very different. I’ll need an agent who is willing to take a risk. Not sure if they’re out there these days.

    • She definitely is…plus she laces her advice with humor, a few “f” bombs, and every now and then, we get rewarded with….a 100 word flash fiction contest! LOVE her.

      Good luck with your project. I’m not sure what you’re working on – is this re: your mother’s book? – but, in my opinion if it’s different, and to use your words, “very, very different,” then I would think it would be intriguing to agents. Aren’t we always reading about writers who pushed the envelope and succeeded based on that? One book, that comes to mind is ROOM.

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