I know that's hard to believe, but it's true. Until I started this blog--and started reading other blogs by wonderful writers, editors and agents--I had NO idea what agents actually did.
I think I pictured them kind of like Yoda. They gave advice to make you better, (Use the force Luke.) and helped you figure out where to go next in the scary, complicated world of publishing.
Plus they looked at contracts and negotiated them so the writer got a better deal. And just for kicks and giggles, they sold foreign and movie rights, etc, on the side.
Now agents do most of that. (I think the advice thing varies by agent.) But I was missing the biggie. Because here is what agents do.
Agents sell your book.
If you have an agent--which I don't--it's the agent who figures out who to submit to. They're the ones who do the querying, and make the pitch for your book. Your job is to write excellently, revise fearlessly and help promote.
I can do that. Or try to anyway. (Yoda says: Do or do not do. There is no try.) So instead of beating my brains out looking for a publisher for my new book, I will instead be beating my brains out querying agents. In fact I've already started.
*sound of frying pan beating on head*
I've sent Agent A a snail mail query, and entered my first chapter in the Firebrand Literary Query Holiday. The rest will have to wait until January first, as my wonderful job has morphed into The Annual Holiday Monster and is sucking out my soul.
(For example, it's four in the morning as I post this, and this is how I feel.
I'm going to work, where I will serve coffee and joke with customers and smile until one in the afternoon. Thank goodness for caramel lattes!)