Another Reason. I neglected in a previous blog to mention another reason that I decided to self-publish my manuscript. Beside the obvious reason: I couldn’t find an agent to represent me, there was another, shall I say, more humbling reason. It has to do with a dog.
When I first wrote Inescapable, I had a different working title for it: The Evolution of Evie. Evie was 170,000 words, more or less, and for about the first three or four months I sent out query letters to literary agents touting this. (A query letter is like a résumé for a manuscript.) Needless to say, I rarely got a response and when I did, it was a form rejection letter. Then one day, an agent sent me a rejection letter stating that my manuscript was “way too long.” I did some research and discovered that, unless you are a previously published author, you have a better chance of winning the lottery than getting your book published with that word count. (Naïve thy name is Amy.) By this time, I was almost finished with my second book that was longer than the first. (Lucky me.) Anyway, I did a few rewrites and got my manuscript down to around 135,000 words, but I still wasn’t getting any interest. Finally, I pared my book down to 105,000 words. I sent out about 20 queries and I had an almost immediate response. One of the agencies asked for a query, twenty-five pages of the manuscript, and a brief synopsis. I sent it. A week later, this agency requested the entire manuscript. So, I’m totally geeked, right! You bet your ass right! Someone was finally reading my novel!
Furiously, I researched this agency that was considering representing me and found that one of my most favorite authors (I mean, he is a book-writing machine) is a client of this agency. You notice that I haven’t named this author or the agency; this is because I respect the author and his work and do not wish to taint it. I also do not bear the agency any ill will, so they will remain anonymous, too. Anyway, it’s really not about this amazing author, it’s about his dog. You see, this author has a dog; I think it’s either a yellow lab or a golden retriever (sorry, I don’t have a fact checker) and this author’s dog is also a client of this agency. A client…as in: the dog is an author. (I am so not making this up, if I was, I would have to make it more believable, but because it is nonfiction, it doesn’t have to make sense.) Apparently, this talented canine has penned a manuscript that reveals the “true spirit of Christmas.” Good for her! At this point, I’m super psyched, right, because these people are giving book deals to dogs! (I can’t lose!) They have to give one to me, too! (Naïve, thy name is Amy.)
About a month later, I received my rejection letter stating that I was not a “good fit for the agency at this time,” which left me to think: I must be the worst writer in the world if a dog can get a book deal and I can’t. That was my first thought. My next thought was: maybe I’ve been too harsh with my criticism. Maybe this dog is really talented and mystical and has discovered some insight on a holiday that most of my relatives manage to screw up annually and with aplomb. (Ha, Ha.)
Mystical dogs aside, it was for me the deciding factor in my decision to self-publish. I could have sent out more queries, but I didn’t like my book at 105,000 words and I was trying to please people I don’t understand. At the end of the day, I want to like what I write and it took a dog to teach me that. So, maybe it is a mystical dog after all. I think I might check out that dog’s book.