What I don't know is the mindset of world of traditional publishers and the gatekeepers to that avenue of publishing, aka agents.
It almost seems odd though, that agents would claim how unfair it is for an author to try to search for a method of getting published when so many agents claim that ignoring queries means they are not interested. What do they expect a writer to do when most neither acknowledge receipt of or rejection of a query because they are too busy.? It seems as if they want to demand respect for their position but they don't feel any obligation to those who submit to them. How long do you wait for a response? How does a writer know if anyone even bothered with it, since they are a new author? Or does the Agency merely hit delete since their plate was full? Maybe agents should have an auto-response, "We received it, if you do not hear from us in 3 weeks, we have decided not to pursue your ms." But no, most don't even have that courtesy.
I know its risky to question the techniques of agents, in case I find I am blacklisted as a problem. I would not be, I would be grateful and cooperative, but I also know that as an unknown author I am merely a drop in the slushpile of submissions to most agents. Do they consider that those submissions come from writers who feel helpless in the face of perceived indifference?
I don't know what to think any more, because agents are so vague about what they want. If I have so little credibility as a new or unknown author that ignoring my query is acceptable, isn't it is up to me to find some way of becoming less unknown? Shouldn't my efforts to find an opportunity to become a published author have any place in the agents perspective?
I often feel like I'm in the crosshairs, and nothing I would do would be helpful or right. Maybe I'm missing something, but it would be nice if honesty and consideration was granted all the way around. Tell me exactly what you want: Only generic romances, Harlequin-style: only mysteries between 60,000 and 75,000 words; only historic fiction with a degree or occupation to back up the claim of historic. Don't claim to be open to anything that strike a chord or is exciting, or character you can feel for or that face some crisis. Most my work falls into that category. Or tell me exactly what you don't want: no self-published works, no queries from authors seeking alternative avenues of publishing; that you only take 1% of new, unknown writers and have reached your limit at this time; or only accept queries from new authors at conferences and workshops. Tell me anything other than you are too busy to notice or acknowledge my query and by doing so I may consider that a rejection.
I am probably more cynical than I should be, but as an unknown writer, it seems as if many of the avenues for finding an agent involve spending money. Learn how to write a query or have for first page reviewed with an agent for a couple hundred. Join an online workshop for a few hundred dollars. Attend a conference for a few hundred more. Go to a workshop or retreat costing a thousand dollars or more. Since I started exploring avenues to publishing, I have been bombarded with those offers. But how does a writer determine that is a good use of their limited money or a wild gamble?
If I spend money for an editor, when agents say they want solid, completed and well written manuscripts to review, and then self-publish while querying, why is that considered a bad thing? I paid good money to the editor, and until an agent decides it might be worth their notice, shouldn't I try the available options and hope for a return on my investment? Maybe I will make through my own efforts, but in all likelihood, I could be more successful with a little assistance. A traditional publisher knows the marketing avenues, has access to reviews an Indie Author cannot access, they have a huge distribution network that I don't. To me, as a writer, paying for an edit is one of the most beneficial things I have done for my writing. It opened my eyes to the shortcomings and problems with the manuscript, the editor gave me useful advice to apply to other work, and I increased my skills by a great deal. The feedback and honesty was one of the best investments I could see to improve. And yet, an agent would find that detrimental because I decided to make a beneficial use of my money and attempt to recoup some of my expenses? It gave me far more useful assistance than I would have received gambling on one of the other options.
I wish there were far more agents who actually took the time to explain honestly what writers have to do to attract notice, or maybe even get an acknowledgement to their query. It's all well and good to see their site and all their success, but it doesn't get me any closer to knowing what will grab their attention, or better yet, earn me the respect of acknowledging my effort. I don't have any trouble understanding that working on a commission is a chancy thing in itself. But I am writing for free too, or often making a big investment in trying to improve and trying to figure out what an agent might want. So all I ask is for a little direction, small bit of helpful and useful information so that I might be able to break into the lottery of traditional publishing, without the need to invest another large sum which may or may not be helpful.
Should feel bad for seeking out options? If agents want respect for their efforts, maybe they need think of respecting potential clients. True there are so many more potential writers and so many more who are seeking the path to traditional publishing that agents might feel overwhelmed too. I understand and respect that position. But if I don't see a way to access that path with a little help and guidance from agents, don't expect me to sit hopelessly dwelling on what to do next. I choose to move forward, I would rather do it with the advice and guidance of an agent who can share their experience to help me improve. But I can't flounder in one place for lack of a helping hand. I have to continue to use my own resources and initiative to see if I can provide something that the public would enjoy. If I find it on my own, without an agent assistance, don't feel I am the one who abused the process, only accept that I tried with the limited direction I was given. I'd rather make it with a team effort, but I can't play on a team of one, and I am having trouble finding a way the tryouts to play on the team.