Truth Be Told
The Road to Publication always seemed a little mystical to me, and published authors had a cloud of mysticism draped around them too, like perfume or auras. I learned a lot from what they shared at conferences and book signings. Still there were a handful of common experiences, common perceptions, common truths, things I thought were carved in stone that turned out not to be. Two of these spring to mind: When an agent turns down your manuscript, give up on that agent and move on to the next one. Also: Write what you know.
When Jenny Bent passed on my first draft of The Pocket Wife, she told me if I didn’t find representation for it in its (then) present form and if I decided to make significant changes, she would look at it again. I asked if we could speak on the phone, just so I would know exactly what she had in mind, and we did. Ultimately, I decided to make the changes; she decided to represent the book.
As far as the second statement goes, what happened to me ran counter to that as well. Men in my critique group complained that there was entirely too much strolling around and sighing and not enough action in my stories. “Fine,” I said. “The next thing I write will start out with a dead body,” which was a total deviation from the tea-drinking and strolling – from what I knew. I was feeling my way along, dancing in the dark. I was totally out of my element and I loved it!
I think authors find their own truths. Follow your instincts and write what you love to write. When your book says what you want it to, when you can turn to almost any page and read aloud to your friend or your spouse or your cat without skipping over half the sentence, look for an agent that will be a good match for you. And don’t give up.