Agency Lessons: Failure

This just in: Agents are failures!
This past weekend, I attempted to make an apple jelly. This attempt came after several successful batches of apple butter, peach jam and all other sorts of jelled items. I followed the instructions in the book, did everything I was supposed to, but as of today, I have five pints of apple syrup. No jelly. I failed.

And sometimes, agents fail too. We pass on a project that we don't think will sell and then see it splashed across Publishers Marketplace a few months later. We take on a manuscript we think is genius and will sell right away only to still be waiting for a contract six months later. We offer a client advice on marketing their new release, but sales are only trickling in.

I'm offering up these examples, because it's easy as an author to imagine agents as mystical beings with the all powerful sight and insight into the magical world of publishing you so very badly want to join. Agents can feel a bit like the Holy Grail after months of querying with no success. But we aren't gods of a literary Parthenon.

We're people. People who love books, love authors, love seeing fantastic manuscripts find homes with publishers and readers. We make mistakes and sometimes, we fail. And sometimes, hopefully more times than we fail, we succeed.

As you are querying agents, focus on the success. This is why you want an agent. But always remember in the back of your head, especially when the rejections come in, that sometimes we fail.