I've read some literary agents' blogs that offer advice to novice writers about the best way to query agents so they'll want to help you get your book published. Never have I read a writer's response to a literary agent to help them help them get their book published. That's too bad. Why does it have to be so one-sided? Since I've become a mother, I realize how much my child has to teach me about life. Couldn't literary agents also learn from writers?
Just before Thanksgiving, I emailed ten query letters to ten literary agents. I've compiled forty-six of the best essays from This Ambiguous Life, framing them as chapters of a memoir about mental health and body acceptance called My Body: From Anorexia and Anxiety to Body Acceptance and Bravery. The manuscript also includes a previously unpublished chapter about my brother’s death and my decision to talk openly as a sexual abuse survivor.
It's pretty heavy, I know. It will take time to find the right literary agent. I've received three rejection responses to my query letters so far. Three out of ten ain't bad. At least they're responding. When I queried agents for my fiction manuscript, the one that's currently residing at the back of my desk drawer, the majority of them didn't even bother responding.
One of the responses I got this time is so great, even though it's a rejection, it fills me with hope. And isn't that ultimately what an unpublished writer needs most? Hope. Nothing triggers writer's block more than no hope. It's romantic and all to say that I write because I'm compelled to, whether or not others ever read my words. But I'm no Emily Dickinson. If I wrote just for writing's sake, I'd be a diarist. I'm not. I'm a blogger. My intent is to share my words with the world. My hope is to get my memoir published, because that's when more people start paying attention.
So, if you're a literary agent reading this blog, thank you. And also, take note. This is the best query rejection I've ever received:
Thanks for letting me take a look. I'm afraid this doesn't seem like the right project for me, but I'm sure other agents will feel differently. Best of luck placing your work! --Monica Odom