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Learning How The Other Half Lives

One of the unexpected results of doing The Indie Book Podcast is that I’ve started to get an inkling, however dim, of what it’s like to be an agent.  I’m trying to find really good material to review on the podcast, which means I’m reading an awful lot of samples.  This has been somewhat exacerbated by the fact that I put out a call for submissions a couple of weeks back, and a lot of authors are throwing their hat in the ring.  I currently have nine submissions on my Big Excel Spreadsheet of Things To Do.

Nine is obviously not a lot, compared to the volume agents regularly report.  And yet it’s enough that I have already had to retire my previous method of selecting books, which was to read the entire Kindle sample and really give the author a chance to hook me.  Now, I read until you give me a reason to stop reading.  If I get two chapters in and I’m still hanging in there, I’ll put the book on the list of things to review.

I’ve also had to get used to another staple of agenthood:  sending rejection letters.  Not every book is going to be reviewed on the podcast, and if yours isn’t, I’d honestly prefer to let you know straight up, rather than let you hope and wonder for weeks.  Back in the not-so-distant past when I was pursuing traditional publishing, I truly did not appreciate the agents who didn’t bother to send rejection letters.  How hard is it, I wondered, to copy and paste a form rejection into your e-mail client?  If I’m not worth fifteen seconds of your time, why am I supposed to think you’re worth fifteen percent of my income?

So, yeah, I come from a history of wanting people to Answer Their Dang Mail.  Which means now that I am in a position where people are sending their work to me, I can scarcely do less.

So, rejection letters.  Sending them hurts, a little.  I know, I know–rejection is part of the job, you have to have a thick skin, whatever, whatever.  It doesn’t mean I don’t remember what it feels like to have your heart seize up when you see a particular From: address in your email client. Or what it’s like to let out a deep breath and talk yourself down, to steel yourself for rejection before you even move your mouse toward that mail.

Now, I am not an agent, just a reviewer.  I doubt anyone attaches as much importance to my acceptance or rejection as they would to, say, Janet Reid’s.  Still, rejection sucks.  From both ends.

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