I have a great deal on my plate at the moment (said dish is heavier than Charles Barkley’s plate at Thanksgiving), and I guess I didn’t realize I was blogging on a punctual basis until people started e-mailing me this afternoon wondering about my well-being. I’m ok! Heh heh, if the San Francisco Police Department is reading this, I swear I wasn’t the one who put out an all points bulletin requesting that all available assistants in the San Francisco area to please report to my office. That was a prank. From some other literary agent.
One of the questions I often get is: how many query rejections one should suffer before enough is enough. Is there a magic number? With apologies to Sean Lindsay at the hilarious blog 101 Reasons to Stop Writing (who would probably answer “immediately”), when should you stop writing queries?
This isn’t one I can answer (which is why I chose to blog about it on a busy day). You have to answer it for yourself.
To be sure, there are some finite limitations here. There are only so many reputable agents out there, and that’s further limited by the necessity of finding someone who represents your genre. But aside from that, it’s up to you — if you are no longer enjoying the process, if your personal life is suffering, if you have been called out in 101reasonstostopwriting…. maybe it’s time to call it quits.
I’m not someone who says “never give up.” If the process of trying to find an agent is getting you down, if it’s interfering with your happiness, maybe you should shelve your novel to focus on rejoining the world. Maybe put it in a drawer and focus on writing another one that’s even better. But one thing I tell people who are getting down by the business side of writing is to stop playing the “if only” game.
The “if only” game goes something like this: “If only” I had an agent I would be happy. Then that inevitably leads to the next step: “if only” I had a publisher I would be happy. “If only” I sold X copies I would be happy. Which leads to “if only” I were a bestseller I would be happy. And so on and so on. Happiness is always just over the horizon.
In my opinion, the only way to be happy in this business is to somehow avoid playing that game and appreciate every step. There’s not a bed of roses waiting for you after every hill. Try to focus on enjoying each step as much as possible — if it’s not making you happy, then maybe you should put down the pen respond to my APB requesting immediate faxing assistance at….. Oh wait. That wasn’t me, I swear!