Wednesday, March 14, 2012

On the Prowl

For the past thirteen days, I've had an exquisite headache that moves around from the space between my eyes to the space behind my earlobes. I can't fall asleep at night and I have even more road rage than usual (close family shudder at the thought here). All this is due to the new phase in my writing life: the hunt for an agent.

I read some wonderful books on how the heck to find an agent (my faves were The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published, which was actually laugh out loud funny, and Noah Lukeman's How to Find- and Keep- A Literary Agent which kept me from jumping off any bridges with a clearly defined plan of action).

I'm starting with agents of writers I love, as per the advice in the above books. As with every other step along this journey, it's a roller coaster.

Yesterday, I found Sandra Dijkstra, who represented not one but two of my all time favorite authors, Amy Tan and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (whose name makes mine sound like Sandy Smith). After an hour of gleefully cross referencing her across various sites, reading her interviews in literary journals, and imagining our instant bond based on difficult to pronounce names, I came upon the sentence that I didn't read so much as cover my ears as it jumped off the page and shrieked: Ms. Dijkstra will no longer be accepting unsolicited queries after March 16, 2012. Yesterday was March 13.

By dinnertime, I came up with about five plans to get over this obstacle but you can imagine the toll on my nerves.

Today has been just plain bad.

I spent an hour this morning researching an agent who no longer represents one of my role models, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

                                         Chimimanda Adichie's inspiring TED Talk

This afternoon, I hit more walls as I discovered that many of the set-in-India books I love have authors who are British. Which of course means so are their agents.

The first book I ever read that was set in Karachi. It did for me exactly what the above TED talk is about. 

Some books I've enjoyed are by one time authors whose agents happened to choose them but the rest of their roster is completely different.

Such as the agency I just read/disqualified whose current releases page featured those bodice-ripping covers you see tucked into the back of drugstores, the ones you, as a lofty literary, walk right by with a mental scoff.

I've been doing this long enough now to know that every step along the way is a learning curve. I'll get there, I know.

In the meantime, the extra large bottle of Tylenol is moving from the medicine cabinet to my bedside.


  1. But two days are still remaining on Ms. Dijkstra calendar before she will slam the door shut. What did I miss? Can't you get your act together... sorry, I mean, get the paperwork in a folder (or whatever is the preferred way suggested by the above mentioned books), and get to her? Will that count as a foot in the door?

    That should count...

    Oh... have another Tylenol in the meantime!

  2. Sanjeev, great thought. I would refer you to my previous entry to answer your question about why not get to her in the next two days (though I'm sure you already read it the first time around). Refer to "So, Phi, when's your book coming out" to see the incredibly delicate way I have to proceed.

  3. Sorry for the stress-headacheness!! Keep at it, good things will happen. In the meantime, as a headache sufferer myself, I recommend Liquid Advil. ;)

  4. I had read "Shahbaboo daughter of the wind" years ago and was authored by Suzanne Fisher Staples. The story was set in Pakistan among the tribal nomads. Beautifully written with descriptive imagery of the landscape, characters and their emotions.
    As I write this, hope your story is on its way to the publisher's desk.
    Rooting for you,