Not too long ago, I discussed my failure to advance in this year’s Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards. One of the things I expressed displeasure with was the fact that my story was read by two reviewers with such widely differing opinions that it cost me a place in the next round. It seems the reviewers’ opinions had to be unanimous, if they were positive that is.
To allow my fate to be decided by only two people really bothered me. It still does, but it’s not just this contest in which this happens. Every time I query a literary agent, I’m asking one person to decide the fate of my dream. Sometimes that one person is looking at nothing more than a one page query. On the strength of that query alone, he may choose to reject me. You know what? I’m afraid there’s no other way to say it, but that’s depressing.
Having an agent reject me is an especially hard pill to swallow when public opinion has been so strong in my favor of late. No, I’m not talking about those well meaning friends and family who pile on the praise every time I ask them to review a new story. I’m speaking about my loyal fans on my favorite e-book web site where I’ve been posting stories for the past year. These fans are always asking if my books are in print because they’d like to own copies. They’re always encouraging me not to give up when I let them know of a new rejection, and they always claim anyone who rejects me is crazy and doesn’t know what they’re doing among other things.
Thinking about the flattering opinions of my loyal fans got me wondering. Why can’t literary agents allow public opinion to influence their decision to represent an author? I suppose it’s because it’s too tough to trust. Not to mention, the market is so saturated with budding writers all vying for a spot on shrinking shelves that agents don’t have the time to devote to that type of research. Agents are busy. They need to know right away how they feel about an author and her story.
The truth of the matter is agents sometimes get it wrong. Some are quick to tell you their business is subjective and one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Still, it would be nice if I could respond to those who reject me by sending them the comments made by my fans when I’ve been rejected. The point of this would be that the agent would reevaluate the marketability of the work and possibly make an offer to represent me after all.
It’s wishful thinking of course, but it would be nice if today’s agents would allow themselves to be swayed by public opinion. With so much of our world having gone digital, it wouldn’t be hard to find out what anonymous people are saying about those of us authors who are willing to market to fans and build audiences pre publication. Maybe we’ll get lucky and an agent will read this blog and start the trend.
Until then, I’ll have to stick to the status quo.