The Trouble with Having No Agent

       There’s the most obvious two troubles of not having an agent: 1) someone to offer revision suggestions to make your story stronger; and 2) someone to negotiate contracts for traditional publication, etc. But the biggest one to me (as least I think it would be, not quite knowing for sure since I don’t have an agent), is the time and focus bit.

       An agent often gives revision suggestions, then expect you to have it cleaned up and back to her in a timely fashion. The getting it back to her is the time factor. The focus part is not wandering off, thinking about or actually working on writing other stories. Once I was given a week to complete editorial revisions, this deadline was emailed to me the night before we left for a week’s vacation. And, yes, I did revised it.

       A couple days ago I spent several hours looking over some of my NaNoWriMo blabber file. I deleted many words, but got tired of the mess on my screen. I finally stopped and sat down with pen and paper to organize the plot, in three acts, with rising and falling tensions nicely placed.

       I hate this part of “writing.” I’d much rather just blabber away in raw writing on a rough draft. Blah, blah, blah. But after seeing the clutter I’ve write as rough drafts, I find myself wanting to start from the first word and rewrite the entire story. Perhaps I shall.

       But with no agent pressing me onward to complete revisions by a certain time, I’ve decided to stop, take a Christmas and family break until January, and then dive back in – with a plan! That is, as long as I don’t have the story of the next book waving flags through my brain cells demanding attention. BTW, I already have a pile of notes on that story, too.

Oh, agent! Where are you, I need someone to give me time constraints and focus.


Every so often my critique group from circa 2003 takes time off from our weekly sub-and-crit schedule to explore the craft of writing. This past week it was all about reading and discussing the book Writing Irresistible Kidlit, The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Fiction for Young Adult and Middle Grade Readers by literary agent Mary Kole (2012, Writers Digest Books).

Do you need to write only for the 8- to 18-year-old to glean information on how to be a better writer from this book? Absolutely not. Kole is a master at setting a chisel on the calloused fallacies of writers for all ages. Does she cover the major three issues? Character, plot and language? You bet, but in a refreshing way which caused this author to sit back, scrutinize her writing revealed in this new spotlight, and say, “Oh, fiddle sticks!” At which time she sends me straight back to Thought- and Revisionland. She covers much more than the major three and delves deeply in.

There are many books available on the craft of writing, many wonderful books. Most are for beginners. Kole does an excellent job, taking the writer deeper. It’s not just “know your characters,” but know their core identities and views on the world. It’s not just about raising stakes in your plot, but raising the stakes for the purpose of seriously affecting your protagonist. And if just reading about improving your writing isn’t enough, Kole throws in exercises for the braver readers. It’s a great study book on the craft of writing.