Agent Monday: Big Girl Panties

brave little diverHappy Agent Monday, everyone! Summer time is a great time to catch up on stuff, to try new things, and to sip that early morning coffee outdoors while deep in thought. I’m hoping you’re taking some time to have deep thoughts about your writing as well as your career. And so while you sit and sip and think, I want to toss something out there for you to ponder: Do you have your big girl panties on?

What do I mean by THAT??? I mean, are you being brave in your writing? Brave with your writing career? Not reckless, mind you, but BRAVE.

Here’s what’s set me circling around this topic: A writer friend I know has spent the past two years or so polishing up his manuscript and wants to now get an agent. When I asked him how that was going, he said he’s sent out 4 queries over the past few months. He seemed to be done with it.

I congratulated him for taking that step (let’s face it, it can be a tough step for some), but then, of course, I cocked an eyebrow at him. Four? He immediately said he hates querying. The potential rejection. But he says he wants an agent. I immediately issued him a pair of big girl panties to don, because, let’s face it, 4 queries ain’t much and he’s standing in his own way of his success. His fear is blocking him from is goal. Four agents… How long will it take those agents to read his query? Sometimes that can take months. How likely will it be that one of those 4 agents will fall in love with the query and request the full and then fall in love with the full enough to offer representation? Tastes are very individual. The odds are decidedly small. Wouldn’t it be better to have at least, say, 10-15 queries in play at all times? Or even more, if the writer can find a good number of agents that might be a fit?

And what is this author afraid of? Failure? Success? Isn’t the more frightening aspect spending several years on a novel that you then refuse to show anyone, even though it’s really good?

We writers (I’m a writer too, remember) self-sabotage our writing careers in so many ways. Yes, it’s a tough world out there and success is never guaranteed. But it would be so much more likely if we writers would stop blocking our own success.

So I say sip that early morning coffee and think deeply about your own writing goals. List them on paper. And the steps to attain them. And star just where you are stuck. Have you written anything? Have you finished that novel? Have you polished it and let others read it and suggest edits through a crit group, say? Have you taken the steps you need to learn about publishing, about how to query? Have you polished your query? Researched the right agents for your work? Sent out queries? Learned from the responses you’ve received and refined your query letter? Then sent out more queries? And while this goes on, have you then starting your next work?

Are you holding yourself back from your dreams in any way? If so, look hard at how and why. You may just need to go big girl panty shopping. Be brave!


*Marie is an Associate Agent at the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in New York City. To keep up with all her posts, subscribe to her site by clicking on the Follow link located on her page on the upper left margin.

30 thoughts on “Agent Monday: Big Girl Panties

  1. This made me smile – because I’ve been using the same phrase lately. This January I decided to start “writing with the goal of publishing” – as opposed to the hobby-writing I’ve been doing my whole life. Every time I take another step – setting up a blog,learning to tweet, attending a conference, pitching live to an agent, querying and querying and querying – I say “I’m putting on my brave face and my big girl panties.” My kids find this hilarious. I find it frightening. And empowering.
    Thanks for the reminder, the encouragement, and all the great posts here!

    • Awesome! It’s amazing how a many tiny steps you can take in a year and find you’ve actually traveled very far (okay, now I sound like a fortune cookie, but you know what I mean…). Yet each step takes bravery.

      Keep going!

  2. Yes, ma’am!
    I have my middle grades book out at the book doc’s; am finishing a chapter book that I first presented in a critique group last week; just began researching a civil war novel.
    But have anything to do with other agencies? That might be a bit too much…

  3. I loved this post. A southern relative uses this phrase all the time but I’ve never thought of it in regard to my writing process. And I should!

  4. Thanks for sharing and giving all that inspiration at the Coffeehouse meeting. It’s back to the drawing board for me with a renewed sense of empowerment. Tweaking that first chapter to include the Prologue as we discussed. Thanks again!

  5. You were SO right, Marie! Merged the prologue into the first chapter and it’s lookin’ good. Now to whittle that word count down. My big girl panties are on fire!

  6. Thanks for the talk you gave at the Coffeehouse. My novel is going through developmental editing, and the edits are sometimes oh, so hard! Lots of red ink. Having had my cheese with the whine, I’ve decided to go for the big girl panties. πŸ™‚
    Barbara of the Balloons

  7. Great post, Maria! Fear, I think, is a big part of this writing business. Fear of rejection, being good enough, even after you’re published, fear of bad reviews, no reviews, poor sales, etc. Courage is the willingness to move forward despite the fear. Persistence and stubbornness helps too. πŸ˜‰

  8. I had to laugh when I read this because I have the exact same issue–two years of revision and barely any querying. I’m very selective when I send to agents because I’m trying my best on this end to make sure that they would be a good fit for my book. It is, however, difficult to get the sense of a person from the internet alone. You’ve inspired me to be a little more daring–exactly what I need right now! Thank you, Marie. πŸ™‚

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