Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Agony of Defeat

STATUS: I'm really ready to read a submission that really excites me.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? SHE TALKS TO ANGELS by The Black Crowes

Do you remember watching the Wide World of Sports and Bogotaj’s failed ski jump clip timed with the words “the agony of defeat”? I think that image is now synonymous with the concept of crash and burn.

Well, this is exactly how an agent feels when a manuscript he/she believes in doesn’t sell. (And I can’t imagine what an author feels like when this happens! Do they imagine that same vision?)

As a general rule, it’s not possible for an agent to sell every single project that is taken on. A lot of times the market isn’t quite right, the timing is off, the submission falls through the appreciation crack, who knows.

But not every project sells.

That’s a fact of life and not why I’m writing this entry. The toughest moment comes when an editor really believes in a project, when the editor fights for the project at editorial board, and then the unbelievable reply comes that despite the editor’s best efforts, he/she won’t be offering for the project. The work, already rejected from numerous houses, is at the end of the submission yet having come so close to almost making it through. So close and yet it might as well be a mile apart.

That, my friends, is the agony of defeat and let me tell you, agents do feel it as keenly as their authors. Well, I take that back. I really don’t believe it’s possible for the agent to feel as deeply as the author does for that lost opportunity. After all, it’s not quite as personal. I always feel incredible sad anyway (and for some reason I run that mental clip through my brain).

I don’t think I’m wrong. Why doesn’t the rest of the world see what I see?

And then I remember that it all comes down to timing and oddly enough, luck.

That can be the most frustrating part of this biz and about as graceful as tumbling through a failed jump.