“Being busy and having business are two different things,” he said with a start. “Dang. What the heck?”
Once upon a time I wrote a pretty good book. Well, I thought it was pretty good. Despite my gorilla marketing theory (do very little and world will beat a path to your door), I decided at the time to query literary agents with it.
Boom, off to AgentQuery.com to compile my list. Spent hours carefully copying down email addresses and agency names into an enormous spreadsheet. A column for everything. Careful tracking of dates and times.
Submitted to this agent on that date. Heard back from that agent on this date. It was complex, but really cool, with color-coded columns and bold letters and all kinds of stuff. I spent hours managing the tiniest details.
I eventually landed an agent.
Of course, the agent had zero interest in all the work I’d done with the spreadsheet and the number crunching. However the universe works, it guided me to that agent, and that agent to me.
And no, the book didn’t sell, although it sat for a month on the desk of a senior editor at Disney. That’s pretty cool.
But that’s not the point. The point is this, and this is the point.
You see, this time I’ve written a really good book (it’s been referred to as a delicious page-turner). And this time I’m going very slowly in submitting to literary agents. One at a time, because each one could be the one.
I have a spreadsheet, because you need a list. And it’s color-coded, so I can see to whom I have sent a query. But that’s it. It’s quiet, and elegant, and a quietly elegant way to conduct the business of submission.
With my first book, I was in such a panic to be in the business of writing books and submitting to agents, I made a business out of it. Man, I was busy doing so much stuff, I felt like I was in the literary business. In reality, of course, I was only in the business of making a business out of something that is really not a business.
You’re a writer. You know how it goes. Every word in your work is a treasure, and you can hardly wait to share it with the world. But it taaaaaaakes soooooo looooong for the literary world to catch on.
Don’t quit your day job, and be confident in your work. If it’s meant to be, it will happen.
In the meantime, in the waiting time, maybe you could work on the sequel, which is what I’m doing. Or take up knitting.
But don’t fool yourself into doing a ton of pointless activity, like creating an enormous database and mentally pestering every agent there, thinking that you are somehow busy-working yourself to success. It doesn’t work that way.
The door between you and literary success can’t be blown down with a scattergun any more than it can be battered down with a spreadsheet.
Take it from one who tried it…