An interesting side-effect of winning an Honorable Mention in the Writerâ€™s Digest Self-Published Book Awards was that I got an e-mail from a literary agency. More properly, an intern at the agency. Still, a literary agency contacted me. Pretty nice and something I was very secretly wishing for. It was a heady moment.
Since she contacted me about two weeks before the Spitzer scandal broke, I knew it was genuine interest. Anything else I wouldâ€™ve dismissed. And it was an agency I had considering querying (eons ago when I was querying agencies). So that was very good.
But there was irritation too. She contacted me during a hugely busy period of time. Nothing wrong with that except she kept wanting to see â€œwriting samples.â€ After several back-and-forths; it turns out she really wanted 50 pages of text from my new book. Why the hell didnâ€™t she just say so?
Iâ€™d directed her to this site and my bookâ€™s site. Writing samples galore, in my opinion. Apparently, this is either not my â€œbestâ€ writing (she indicated she wanted to see me at my best) or it somehow wasnâ€™t voluminous enough. Donâ€™t people get book deals through their blogs? I digressâ€¦.
So I worked up a short proposal, taking a couple days of time and worry (and several arguments withâ€¦ahem), only to be told it really wasnâ€™t what they thought it was, best of luck landing an agent.
The title: The Internet Escortâ€™s Handbook Book 1: The Foundation; Basic Mental, Emotional and Physical Considerations in Escort Work wasnâ€™t descriptive enough? Did the bookâ€™s site fail to indicate the target audience or subject of the series? Do let me know if I need to clarify either of those points before I do any more publishing. Heaven forbid I mislead any more people (or agents).
While this was an incredibly exciting and gratifying moment â€“ sort of like a pretty girl being handed the business card of a well-known fashion photographer and told to come in for some test shots â€“ it was also perplexing. It was rejection on a whole new level. I felt like a girl walking down the street, minding her own business, who gets accosted by a charming stranger who persuades her he must have her phone numberâ€¦only to call a couple days later just to state that sheâ€™s not really his type. WTF?
Mostly, my irritation stems from the lack of knowing what their interest was in me. They never told me what they were offering. Were they simply trying to decide if they could place the series with a large publisher? Sell the foreign rights? Simply bring me wider distribution? Understanding their motive certainly wouldâ€™ve allowed me to make a better proposal to them. It certainly wouldâ€™ve cleared up all the doubts I had about them.
Or I wonder if they simply wanted to see what the inside of a book for escorts would look like without having to buy it. (You know what I think about that.)
I think my irritation showed through by the time we got to the short-proposal stage. I was also in the middle of the Spitzer thing and had lost patience with this intern and her vague requests. Being prickly probably didn’t help my chances with the agent. Oh well. Like I’ve said before, if I weren’t a stubborn, independent cuss I would not have gone the self-publishing route.
Not knowing what advantages I might gain by signing with this particular agency took a away a lot of the thrill of being contacted by them. I might not sell a lot of books, but I make a handful of dollars of profit off each one I sell (money which goes back into the company, Iâ€™ve yet to pay myself anything from this venture). Signing with an agent and going that route means I might be lucky to make $1 off each book sold. Plus, Iâ€™d already gone through all the pain of starting the company and creating structure around it. Iâ€™m building my â€œplatformâ€ on my own (and with my freelance publicist â€“ when I can afford her), which is something any publisher requires of its authors anyway, often with just as much financial backing as Iâ€™m getting now. I donâ€™t think this particular agency would be any help at garnering more publicity. Signing with an agent would most likely mean I lose my company and any chance of publishing othersâ€™ work.
So how was this supposed to benefit me? I really donâ€™t know. Once the flattery and thrill of approval passed, there was only confusion. Still there, actually.
I never asked the benefits question until the proposal, but the question was unanswered. I have little doubt Iâ€™ll be contacted by an agent or large publisher again. Iâ€™ll save myself time and ask right out whatâ€™s in it for me. Iâ€™m not hoping to land an agent â€“ though an investor would be great. Iâ€™m trying to forge ahead and carve out my own territory in the world of publishing. I want to be the kinder, gentler, sex worker Judith Regan.
The only way Iâ€™m going to be impressed by an agent/publisher is if they can do for me what I canâ€™t do for myself. As time rolls on, that list gets shorter.