In June, 2015, I attended a Christian writers’ conference for the first time. I’ve been writing for most of my life, and reading about writing, so I knew that publishing has experienced a sea change in the past few years. Writers can no longer submit their work to agents and publishers without an invitation to do so, and the vast majority of the invitations are extended in person, at the end of a 15-minute “pitch” meeting, at a writer’s conference. I had finished another book, one I believed in very deeply, and God provided everything I needed to attend that conference, and brought together some really quite amazing components that raised my hopes high. I really wanted to come home with an invitation to submit a formal proposal to an agent or publisher. Actually, I came home with seven. I was like a helium balloon that required a string firmly tied on to keep me grounded! I eagerly joined the blog sites of agents and literary agencies represented there, and have participated often and continued to learn from them.
I had commitments away from home for the week immediately after the conference, but when I got home, I bought special stationery to send personal notes to all the ones who had agreed to meet with me and extended the invitations. But I found that those people don’t put their mailing addresses out to the public, and the only way to reach them is with an email or a post on their web site, so I did a few of those, and the notes didn’t get written. At the conference I learned that the chapters in my book were nearly double the preferred length, so I settled down and rewrote the whole book, shortening the chapters. When they were done, I sent a proposal to an agent–and waited. She never answered. So I sent a proposal to another agent. She hasn’t answered, either. I’m almost finished preparing the proposal for the third one.
Then yesterday, the topic of discussion on one literary agency’s blog site addressed timing. This agency was one from which an agent had invited me to submit a proposal but hasn’t replied. So I asked if not sending in my proposals immediately after the conference was likely to have been a reason there had been no response. The answer has been first surprising, then shocking, then disappointing, and now I’m fighting moments of “devastating.” He said initiating the contact with an agent you meet at a conference should be done within two or three DAYS!!! Nearly four MONTHS have passed! I feel like a balloon that used to have helium in it that is now lying on a sidewalk.
But God knows all that. I was invited to submit proposals, with no deadlines given, so I plan to just keep on submitting them until I’ve addressed all those invitations. The agents and publisher reps can’t accept my proposals if they never receive them. The air is coming back into the balloon, but it’s good old normal, Midwestern, autumn air, with some leaf smoke, corn dust, and goldenrod pollen, and from now on, I think I’ll be staying pretty close to the ground, even without a string to hold me down.