A writer went off on a rant on one of the loops I belong to.
You know the kind of tirade I'm talking about. It's usually the same one or two people who periodically go off on the subject: Writers complaining about the short shrift agents give to query letters. I'm paraphrasing here, but I've heard the same complaint often enough that I've got it down pat.
"I'll bet there are great works of fiction being tossed aside because the agents refuse to spend enough time on them. It's just not fair."
News flash: Life isn't fair. I'm sure if we could speak to Natasha Richardson or her family right now, they'd agree.
Why, therefore, do we expect publishing to be different from the rest of life?
And while you're throwing rocks at agents, let's look at life from their side of the street. Kristin Nelson estimated she got 30,000 queries last year. That means she had to read 600 queries every week to get the eight clients she signed last year.
Yeah, I'm gonna bet agents run through those query letters pretty darn fast. Otherwise, they'll drown in those suckers.
You want to get an agent's attention? You have to give him something that grabs his attention. Don't blame him. It's the price of admission. If you don't like the rules, find another game.
You want to know who I have sympathy for? I mean . . . besides Natasha Richardson's twelve and thirteen-year-old sons and her husband?
A writer I know is waiting for a response from a well-known publisher. They told her they LOVED her protagonist, LOVED her writing style, LOVED the quirky plot line and LOVED her fabulous sense of humor. They want to publish the book, but they're worried that the plot line (corporate greed) is "too 2006."
Think about getting a rejection for THAT reason. You're being told you did everything right, but the timing is off.
Damn straight, life is unfair.
And, yes, I'm fully aware there's luck involved in getting published. There's luck involved everywhere and every place in life. It's luck that keeps one person alive and kills another when some idiot throws rocks at cars on the freeway.
Every one of us has been disappointed at some time in our lives. But sometimes life balances out. We get lucky in some other area. That's why we have sayings like "Unlucky at cards, lucky at love.
But it's how you handle what luck throws at you that matters.
You can take a look at what you're doing and try to do something different in case the problem is with you and not with the evil empire that seeks to toss you aside for whatever reason YOU attribute to them (their impatience, their greed, an inability to recognize your genius . . . whatever).
Or you can decide that the game is rigged and move on to a different game. Self-publishing, anyone?
Or, you can accept it and continue to plug away. Thomas Jefferson said: "I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it."
Or you can continue to whine.
Do I whine sometimes? Of course, I do. I whine to the people who love me until I hear myself and realize I'm doing it . . . or until they point it out to me.
Because, after a while, whining gets reaallly old.