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Archive for the ‘agent’ Category

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Posted by E on July 19, 2012

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Posted in activism, agent, anonymous, art, artist, books, canada, culture, depression, identity, literature, longing, media, news, perseverence, poetry, politics, publishing, rejection, revolution, writer, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Enter your password to view comments.

Happy New Year to fellow writers everywhere

Posted by E on January 3, 2012

I wish all of you peace and much happiness in the new year, despite the Mayan calendar and New Age predictions of destruction, polar shifts, switching equators, alien landings and other such craziness. The world is changing at such a fast speed that who knows what the year ahead has in store for us? Whether we end up evaporated, digitalized or turned into higher-frequency beings, or stay much as we are, reality is, change will take place whether we like it or not. So, in the words of now-deceased Jack Layton, let’s be kind to one another, and we can change the world.

2011 for me was a year of changes, and not necessarily all for the positive. There were a lot of ups and downs and formed one of the biggest rollercoaster moments of recent years. In 2011 I finished my first novel, Race Traitor, and submitted it to my agent, who in turn submitted it to editors. That painful process – the part from the time when I completed the manuscript onwards – was permeated with countless frustrations with my agent (whom I’ve fired since then),  as well as negative experiences piling one atop another.

Two months into submissions, my agent decided – against my permission –  to withdraw the manuscript from editorial desks, despite the fact that half of the editors still had not gotten back to us.  This ugly incident, along with various other unprofessional behaviours, led me to fire him, but not before I was left with an ugly taste in my mouth about agenting in general, and the publishing industry in particular. More on this later.

Finally, dejection led to depression, which led me to feel hopeless about the entire industry. So – like everybody else these days – I self-published Race Traitor. I’ll never regret going this route, because of the freedom I’ve gained in the last few months. But it wasn’t easy. Getting people to buy it was like pulling teeth. So more dejection and depression set in. And then I understood that in the world of Amazon, where circa 45,000 people publish monthly, you have a snowball’s chance in hell of becoming noticed.

And then, gradually, things started to happen. I started selling books. I climbed the ranks. I finally earned enough to receive my first-ever royalty cheque for $500! I could enjoy my success and not give an unprofessional, self-described “rock star” agent 15% of my income. And I was happy, finally, because even though nobody believed in me – nobody, least of all my ex-agent – that I had done it all with my own hands. Myself, alone. And incidentally, while my “ex” still hasn’t sold anything since I fired him, I’ve done mainstream interviews and had my book stocked in a couple of bookstores already.

Even though I still have a long way to go, I’m determined never to let other people’s lack of faith in me determine how I percieve my own value, and that of my work. And I urge you to not do so either. Whether some jaded asshole believes he can sell your book or not does not matter. YOU know yourself and your work better than anybody else. If you can’t get an agent, or you’re forced to fire an agent, remember — they are NOBODY without you. Whether you can get an editor to take a look at your manuscript is not intrinsically tied in with your value as an artist.

This whole fucking industry is built on the backs of writers — who are for the most part, ripped off in terms of lowball advances and crappy royalty rates. You think I’m joking? I walked away from a potential deal with Penguin last year because it wasn’t going to give me enough money to cover my security concerns over publishing the non-fiction version of Race Traitor. So…yeah. Not even a name like Penguin is worth selling my hard work for nothing. I know it’s hard to understand, even for my writer friends, who were part of the entire heartwrenching process, but I had to walk away from Penguin, and I will walk away from future publisher offers, unless they’re willing to meet me at least half-way. You’ve got to earn respect to get respect. Especially when you expect writers to incur potential danger for doing public speaking tours and arranging their own security (which you won’t pay for).

Sadly, when it comes to how they treat writers, the publishing industry has forgotten all that. But you’ve got to stay strong, and not let them get to you. Don’t ever let yourself be at their mercy. Stay firm in your resolutions, and soon you will find that depression can turn to empowerment, and then to freedom. Remember the wise words of Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

YOU are the talent. YOU are the commodity. If you’re to take anything with you from this post into the new year ahead, remember that.

If you really believe in the value of what you are creating, you will succeed. It’s only a matter of time.

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Old Habits Die Hard – the dubious adventures of Grant Bristow, or how CSIS taught me everything I know about phone hacking

Posted by E on November 17, 2011

I’ve just recently been informed of a 2010 scandal involving ex-CSIS superstar Grant Bristow, who everyone these days knows better as Nathan Black. The story is convoluted and pathetic, and involves Grant Nathan pretending to be a phony reporter in order to conduct some mock aggressive interviews with Edmonton mayor Stephen Mendel. In other words, a déjà vu throwback to Bristow’s good old times – a dirty tricks campaign (in this case, against a Jewish person). Of course, the prank went terribly wrong since nobody quite “got” Bristow’s sense of humour and he was subsequently hit with a libel charge. Anyway, you can read more of the tawdry affair here.

Reflecting back on my own personal encounters with Grant Bristow, it now dawns on me how wrong I was about him. How that poor man must have suffered. After I provided information on the Heritage Front, my life in hiding was absolutely nothing in comparison to the suffering Grant must have endured: the abrupt cessation of those few things that gave his life such joy and meaning – telephoning people under the guise of interviewing them, donning alternate personas only to mock and scare those on the other line. Breaking into answering machines to lift information that he would pass out to Heritage Front skinheads. Oh, how he’d miss his perennial favourites – putting skinheads up to crank call individuals on his target list, individuals who would end up being followed, harassed and terrorized 24 hours a day.

Today’s media have only half the story right: yes, Grant Bristow undoubtedly did his duty as agent provocateur extraordinaire to build up a racist empire in Canada. The part where the Bristow myth falls apart is in the fact that, no matter which way you spin things, Grant Bristow did NOT take down the Heritage Front.

That task befell a number of tireless activists, a sleuthing journalist for the Toronto Sun, Bill Dunphy, and as a result of the brave actions of a House of Commons staff member, Brian McInnis, who leaked an internal report to the Attorney General which warned of possible problems involving the activities of a CSIS agent in the field.

In the several years in which Bristow moulded and partially-funded the Heritage Front and their subsequent criminal activities, NOT ONE CRIMINAL CHARGE was laid against any Canadian white supremacist as a result of his actions. But it gets even better — Bristow was even busted by Metro Police with a trunk full of smuggled guns – but the police were promptly told “from above” to let him go and not pursue the matter.

Following Bill Dunphy’s front page exposé of Bristow in the Toronto Sun, our boy was promptly plucked out of the Toronto area by his handlers and placed into the Witness Protection Program. He was given a large home in Edmonton equipped with a three-car garage and an allowance of several thousand dollars per month. I have to ask myself, For what, exactly?

Let’s first start with the definition of hero: according to Oxford Dictionary, this is “a person, especially a man, who is admired by many people for doing something brave or good.” (Uh, as in instigate terror campaigns against people because of their differing political beliefs and sexual orientation? Because that’s what Bristow did. But I’m getting ahead of myself here).

How is Bristow a hero of the people? Well, let’s go down the list:

  1. Did any criminal charges get laid against any HF white supremacists as a direct result of his information? No.
  2. Did he testify in any proceedings against any Heritage Front members? Nope.
  3. Did he ever supplant police with any affidavits that were ultimately used to prosecute anybody? I mean, given the hundreds of thousands (likely millions) of taxpayer dollars that went into this operation, did anything concrete come out of Grant Bristow? Or are we only left with a bunch of hate speeches on YouTube and a bad taste in our mouths? Nada. Ugh, I’m starting to see a pattern here.
  4. Were either himself or his handlers charged with criminal harassment over the It Campaign, over possession of illegal weapons, or instigating a riot (as in what happened in June 1993)? No again. No criminal charges were ever laid (though rumour is, the handler was either demoted or fired, though I cannot confirm this).

What makes a hero in the eyes of Canadian media? Somehow I doubt it involves such dubiously-heroic acts as teaching underage girls like myself how to break into answering machines and how to “fuck with people’s heads” until they “shit their pants and have a total breakdown.” Though that is precisely what he did.

However, such heroic acts are deemed to merit exposure in press arenas such as Walrus Magazine, or worth standing ovations from synagogue audiences who blissfully had no clue about the character of the man who they were thanking, and what they were really giving applause for.

In contrast to Bristow, I’m not as full of myself as to claim that I acted heroically. However, I can answer yes to the first 3 of the above questions.

  1. YES, white supremacists were charged as a result of my information. And not just anybody, but Wolfgang Droege himself and a couple of his cronies went to jail.
  2. YES, my testimony resulted in convictions. And if CSIS hadn’t told the OPP and RCMP to back off my affidavits in order to protect their operative, many MORE convictions might have resulted.
  3. YES, my information was used to weed out a KKK-attending, Heritage Front member who just happened to be a police officer and gun-totting member of the Toronto Police Services.
  4. NO, I wasn’t given a three-car garage mansion in the suburbs, or an allowance of $3000 a month for years and years afterwards. Hell, I wasn’t even given a change of ID.

I panhandled on the streets of Ottawa and Halifax to feed myself. I dumpster-dived for food between court appearances and lived in shelters. After I did my part to take down the Heritage Front, I had nothing, couldn’t use my ID, and was on the run for my life. I received absolutely nothing, not even protection, from this government.

But I ain’t a hero, and unlike Bristow, I wouldn’t feel comfortable making such a claim. I’m just a nobody, someone who did what they had to in order to dismantle a vicious organization and take those bastards down.

And no, I’m not only talking about the Heritage Front here.

UPDATE: For a comprehensive media library of what took place in the 1990s, please start by checking out this blog entry (Race Traitor: The Media Library) and the mainstream media articles and documentary footage listed.

Also – here is a free PDF excerpt of my book, which includes affidavit-backed details of Bristow’s criminal activity within the Heritage Front: RACE-TRAITOR Excerpt by ELISA HATEGAN

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If you enjoyed the read or found it useful, please consider dropping a dollar in my Patreon donation jar .

Posted in agent, canada, crime, news | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

The freedom to dream, the courage to belong

Posted by E on July 13, 2011

 

I guess you can chalk me up as an aspiring, unpublished hack. You know, like 99% of artists out there reading this post 😉 A hack who’s part of this ever-changing world we live in, and who knows more than my fair share about the business. So having said all that, you know what kills me? I’ve accepted that I’m never going to be the next hot new bestselling writer out there. That I’m not going to make much more than minimal wage, and that’s taking into account the artist bursaries I may occasionally win. But the thing that kills me, more than the non-existent fame and fortune all of us writers secretly hope to stumble into, more than anything, is the knowledge that I will never be able to walk into a bookstore and see my book on a shelf.

This image has haunted me since I was a little girl. It has propelled and encouraged me to take my dreams of writing stories and make them unfold from hunches, intermittent thoughts, stray words, into something that takes a life of its own. It’s this dream, this vision of my books on a shelf or on a store display under the Staff Picks section, that hurts the most to let go. To know that everything I have done in my life, all the hard work I’ve put into creating these manuscripts, means nothing at all.

Yes, bad writers self-publish all the time. Breathtakingly mediocre manuscripts get uploaded onto Kindle at every hour of every day. That was my assumption when I first encountered the notion of self-publishing, when I secretly dismissed self-published authors as untalented hacks who couldn’t earn their stripes in the real literary world.

Yes, I was a snob. WAS. But that was before I started downloading self-pubbed books on my Kindle, and realized just how many amazing, incredibly-talented people have been forced by this screwed-up industry to take this route.

There is no karmic justice in this industry. Truth of the matter is this:
1) Bad writers DO get book deals. I’ve met a few in my day, people who either never wrote more than a chapter of a book and still managed to make it onto bestseller lists. Terrible writers also manage – through nepotism, inside connections and affiliations with college writing programs – to land publishing deals for their inferior magnus opuses. I’ve seen it happen. Half of them are out teaching creative writing programs. I can’t name names, but trust me. It happens more often than you think.

2) Good writers DO fall through the cracks. On the brink of extinction, the established literary industry operate like a flock of piranhas – editors concern themselves more with keeping their jobs and minimizing the risk it takes to take on unknown writers. Often they will adopt an unspoken policy of not showing interest in something unless other editors show interest. Simply put = nobody wants to take risks anymore. And nobody wants to edit.

3) Gone are the days when a diamond in the rough could be scooped from the slush pile and whittled into brilliance. Editors, for the most part, are lazy. There – I’ve said it. Not all, because I’d hate to generalize, but a HUGE majority of large publishing house acquiring editors prefer to do just that – acquire. Not edit. Not even bother trying, actually. If the manuscript in their inbox is not pitch-perfect in terms of what they’re looking for, they’d rather reject than invite a revision.

4) Publishing houses are going extinct because of bad financial practices. Case in point:
a. At the last Book Expo America, Random House rented an ENORMOUS booth to show off how much money they had. They spared no expense in putting off the image that they are doing peachy

b. Publishers will spend a million dollars for an advance to buy on a single manuscript (again, see the bidding war piranha frenzy I mentioned earlier), and add another 500K in marketing costs to justify their gamble on one person, while the money could be spent on acquiring ten talented writers (at $100K advance each). You don’t have to have a degree in investing to see how screwed up this is.

c. A reluctance to adapt to new publishing models, save for continuous attempts to unashamedly and brutally screw over inexperienced, first-time authors over their already-meagre royalties. Example: You sell your soul if you spend a year or more on a book only to find out that you’ll make fifty cents per every ebook. But if they didn’t do that, how could they afford the huge salaries of top executives, those travel expenses to international fairs, those roomy booths at Book Expo America?

So by now you’re either cheering me on, or you’ve already written me off as a bitter industry loser. As in, I didn’t win the lottery jackpot and got a book deal yet – because this is what this really is about – LUCK. Not talent so much as sheer, unadulterated luck: the RIGHT editor, the RIGHT submission, at the RIGHT time.
FACT: the vast majority of published authors out there only received one offer. That’s right: ONE offer. There was no bidding war. No hundred grand advance. Just ONE editor who had an empty slot in next fall’s line-up. THAT alone is what separates the unwashed masses like me from the “respectable” folks in the Chapters-Indigos and Barnes & Nobles of the world.

But if it was up to the industry, that’s not where I’m headed, or where most of us younger writers trying to put our work out there are headed. By misfortune of being born in this generation, at the cusp of the extinction of the bricks-and-mortal bookstores (may be another 10-20 years, but they’re going), we are being shut out of that dream we’ve all harboured: the vision of walking into over to that store display and seeing your baby in print, ready to captivate the world.

It doesn’t mean we can’t make a name for ourselves, or serious money. People have been so successful through Kindle, it would be insane not to consider it. But what I’m taking about is your work being out on the bookshelves of a hundred stores, reaching a mainstream audience that is kept away from you by virtue of the gate-keepers.

I’ve done everything right. I’ve played by the rules. I’ve gained a few prizes here and there, won substantial artist grants, gotten my name out there. I was even accepted by the most prestigious MFA program in Canada this spring, but because I have no money whatsoever, I’ve had to defer my spot.

I’ve had not one, but two literary agents. The first was more lazy than money-hungry and spent his entire day on Twitter playing the role of big agent man but not making any sales. At all. So I fired him and started fresh. The second agent seemed more promising. I listened to him, for a while, when he told me to add more violence, more of a 24 (the TV show) plotline and more “dirty lesbo sex” to my novel so it would sell – and I did all this out of fear that he would not submit my book to publishers. Until I couldn’t take it anymore and told him I was finished. With the power struggle, and with the proposed changes. Really finished.

For the last two years I’ve allowed myself be bullied by this industry – by agents, by writer forums where self-aggrandizing, arrogant assholes who published mid-list books pull rank on new writers, by editorial rumours of what sells, by everything. And at the end of the day, what did I get?

A manuscript that has been so twisted it seems foreign to me, but meets the vision of what the industry seems to want. And sure enough, it has received several generous editorial compliments over the past month, yet it keeps getting rejected. The rejections, of course, are all over the map – editor X will praise this and complain about that, and not a day later, editor Z will complain about this, and praise that which someone else had taken issues with. But nobody wants to take a chance on me.
Nobody.

The truth is, the literary world these days is a shitty, soul-wrenching crapshoot in which only the lucky and the well-connected will find a spot to land in. And if you are like me, if the only thing you ever had to cling to in your life was writing, you’ll keep on struggling, crying, and creating.

You belong. Don’t let them convince you otherwise.

If you enjoyed the read or found it useful, please consider dropping a dollar in my Patreon donation jar 🙂

Posted in agent, art, artist, belonging, books, bullshit, commentary, freedom, life, literature, manuscript, news, perseverence, poetry, press, publishing, rejection, thoughts, writer, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

How to lose your faith in the publishing industry in a minute and a half…or less

Posted by E on May 29, 2011

It was about eight years or so, give or take a couple of months, when my partner invited me to a friend of hers’ cottage party. I’d been to plenty of those with my old varsity fencing team (where coaches and athletes got drunk and made out), so I didn’t think anything of it. Later that night I would feel ridiculously underdressed, having just realized that the so-called “cottage party” was really an assembly of über-wealthy people gathering in the most-done up fancy cottage I’d ever seen. A rustic mansion, if you will.

So, as I typically tend to do at the few cocktail parties I’ve ever attended, I stood in the corner pulling down on my short skirt and trying not to look too awkward as I sipped on my absurdly-expensive glass of Merlot – which probably cost less than my entire get-up. Alas, you get the point.

Then the hostess of this lavish banquet – which was spread out over a twenty-seat table setting, if you can imagine – came over, put her arm around my shoulders, and asked, “So I hear you’re a writer?”
I nodded, which prompted her to break into a smile as she said, “Well, then, I have to introduce you to one of my dear friends. His book is coming out imminently.”

Fast-forward a half hour later. I was sitting in the “Lodge” part of the mansion, a glorious spectacle of exposed brick and a rustic fireplace that went up twenty feet, across from a bespectacled middle-aged man smiling benevolently at me as he knocked back his Merlot faster than you could say “publishing deal.”
This was it, the eager young writer in me thought. My chance to glean a few words of wisdom from this self-professed self-help guru. I leaned forward, my eyes glowing with adoration, and asked him with bated breath what all of us unpublished writers really want to know, “How did you do it? How did you break out?”
My new friend leaned back in his overstuffed chaise, looked left and right conspiratorially, then met my eyes again.
“Well, first of all,” he started to say, pacing his words out evenly, slowly, no doubt enjoying the act of stretching out the anticipation of a seemingly-vapid twenty-something, “you’ve gotta do your homework. You’ve gotta get yourself an agent. Not just any agent, but a Jew agent. I did my homework and made a list of a couple dozen Jew agents in New York, and I targeted them specifically. Those New York Jews, they’re connected to everybody, they know everybody. So I persisted until I got the best agent, and like I said, I made sure she was a Jew agent, a real shark. That’s the most important part.”
He took another sip while I tried to digest the information. Then he dropped another bombshell.
“She told me all you need is a good title and a gimmick. You don’t even have to write the book.”
I nearly dropped my glass. “W-what? I thought you had to finish a manuscript….”
My friend shook his head vehemently. “No, no, that’s just for amateurs. No, in this business, all you need in a catchy title that can be spun off into a dozen books. She got on the phone with her editor contacts and already got me multiple book deals. Get this, I hadn’t even written more than the first couple of chapters.”
“B-but… how can they do that?”
He chuckled, delighting in my shock. “They’ve got their own writers, my dear. Their own in-house writers. They don’t need you to write the book. All you need is a platform and a gimmicky title – and of course, a Jew agent – and you’re set.”

This was the night I “woke up” when it came to the publishing industry, the moment of personal nadir when I lost my childish naiveté about how things really work. Before that, I thought that in order to get published, all you had to do was write a brilliant book. And then I came face-to-face with someone who was to hit stardom within a few months, and who had done little, if nothing, for it. Not just that, but whose attitude about Jews made me uncomfortable.

I knew then that there are other factors at work in an author’s success, and that luck, rather than simply talent, plays a huge part in it. In the last eight years, I’ve shared this story with a lot of close friends and aspiring writers who believe in “the system.” Not that I don’t, of course. But there’s something flawed, I think, in a process that allows someone to skyrocket to best-selling stardom and have “his” book(s) translated into 30 languages when they’ve done not a hell of a lot, other than come up with, yes, a catchy title. Of course, this man enjoys his success, and how can I blame him? But personally, I think I would have a slight twinge of guilt, a modicum of personal discomfort, in representing a franchise that I didn’t even write or create.
But to each his own, I guess.

Posted in agent, art, artist, books, bullshit, publishing, writing | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Why I Don’t Expect Anything From You

Posted by E on May 3, 2011

 

Let me say this now: I don’t expect anything from you. From anybody. All my life I’ve had to prove myself. You’d think by now I would get used to it. But there’re a very distinct difference between getting used to something, and accepting it as pure, undiluted fact.

I believe it’s along this crevice of uncertainty where a lot of artists trip and fall through. Not because they don’t have passion and belief in their own abilities, but because that vision comes to be chipped away, slowly, incrementally, over the years – at first by other kids in the playgrounds of our childhood, then by the parents who scoff at their dreamy progenies and try to corall them into soul-murdering professions lest they risk permanent dissaproval. Whether it’s a tacit dissaproval or a barrage of rejection letters, eventually confidence can come to collapse unto itself like an erosion of rock formations along a sea edge. The rockface is corroded in invisible increments, for months and years, and after a while simply dissolves into the seawater below.

I can’t even start to pinpoint where I began to fight against the wave. It would probably be easier to ask when I didn’t have to struggle. As far back as I can remember, I was always in the corner, watching others come naturally into that which took me eeons of strength and resolve to achieve.

I was the angry kid, the jealous kid, the one who came to school unwashed, snot-nosed and with lice. No parent ever helped me do my homework, pack my lunch or iron my school uniform. Everything I ever did, I did alone. No one celebrated my small victories or wept with me over my petty defeats, over the courtyard bullying, the horrible names kids love to call outsiders like me.

In this new country of Canada I no longer wore a tattered dress or ran around the streets like a stray dog, but the physical and mental scars of my past turned me into an angry, defiant teenager who didn’t fit in anywhere. After years of peer bullying and foster homes, I dropped out of high school, fell in with a rough crowd, later turned against them and moved across the country. And finally, at 18, I pulled my shit together – I took a high school equivalency exam and to my surprise passed it on the first try.

Why not reach higher, I thought, deciding to apply to university next. Based on my entrance essay, I was accepted into every university I’d applied to. Ecstatic and in awe, I decided to share my good news with a Youth Employment Services counsellor at the downtown youth bureau, thinking he’d believe in me. To my shock, he took it upon himself to pull me into his office. He closed the door and gestured for me to take a seat. “I heard you’re applying to university, Kat.” (that was my nickname then).

“Yes,” I beamed. “I got my acceptance letters this week. Can you believe it? From all of them.”

“Hmm, right, yes,” he said gravely. “I wanted to speak with you about that. You do know that university is very, very difficult, don’t you? It’s extremely tough to keep up with the academic demand. Not a lot of people make it.”

“I don’t think I’ll have any problems,” I said.

He frowned. “Yes, well, the thing is, I would hate to see you fail after a semester. You do know a lot of first-years drop out after six months, right? I’d hate to have you lose your place in our program, only to start from scratch in a few months…”

I was furious, looked him right in the eye and said, “I won’t be back here. Do you think I WANT to be in a program that discourages me from pursuing higher education? I mean, you’re a social worker, aren’t you supposed to encourage me? I know I can do this. I don’t need you to tell me what you think is good for me. You know absolutely nothing about my potential!”

Over the four years that followed I was a Dean’s Honour List student, received scholarships every year and graduated magna cum laude. But along the way, I learned that no matter how certain I am of something, no matter how palpable my vision is, I cannot make anyone else have faith in me.

We live in a world where people have been knocked around so many times that they have become jaded. Where miracles don’t happen anymore. Where it is easier to dismiss someone with a flick of the wrist or a sarcastic comment than to give them the benefit of the doubt. And where your worst adversary is another wounded person angry at the world for dismissing their own dreams; someone who’s given up, and now serves to mock and ridicule those who still struggle forward.

To be perfectly honest, other than my partner and the odd friend here and there who have known me long enough to witness the blood, sweat and tears that have propelled my goals into realization, I don’t really think anybody believes in me. Sure, I am surrounded by well-meaning, good people, but do they REALLY think I can succeed?

Does my agent genuinely think I’m a brilliant writer? I honestly don’t know. Probably not. Does he even believe he can sell my book, or just that its subject matter makes it an easy sell? It’s hard to tell. Will the publisher who buys it take a leap of faith because she or he genuinely loves my writing, or will the decision be made simply on a financial calculation at the pub board? Likely the latter.

What I’d love more than anything is to have that dream we all have – to be recognized for our talents, to be praised, to be loved. I mean, isn’t that what we all want? But through my life I’ve received surprisingly little praise, fewer compliments still, and certainly more rejections than acceptances. I’ve never been “discovered” or hailed as a genius of any sort. The few compliments I’ve received make me oddly uncomfortable; I hear them so infrequently that I’m suspicious of their intent. I may have published a few pieces here and there and won my share of grants, but it was always through a blind, anonymous jury. And afterwards, nobody’s ever called me up and said, “you know what? I really loved your work.”

I’m being sincere (and perhaps slightly bittersweet) when I say that I’ve always been the little match-girl, standing on tiptoes in the snow outside a beautiful mansion, peeking into a world where I’ve never belonged. And as much as I’d love to be invited inside, that’s just the way it’s been and will probably always be.

For someone who has battled depression and suicidal impulses most of my adult life, this is a very difficult thing to accept – that nobody will ever save me but myself. That if I don’t choose to live, nobody else can do it for me. Just like nobody else can have faith in my ability to thrive like a dandelion through cracked cement. Only I can do that.

That’s why I don’t expect anything from you. I’ve never gotten anything for free. I know that I have to constantly fight back my own fears of inadequacy and self-doubt. The truth is, I may not have had much of a childhood, but the one thing, the ONLY thing, I have clung to, is my idealistic faith in people and their ability to accomplish that which is closest to their hearts. If I didn’t, if I’d become as jaded as the world around me, what would be the point of anything?

If you enjoyed the read or found it useful, please consider dropping a dollar in my Patreon donation jar .

Posted in agent, art, artist, perseverence, rejection, writer, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

On finishing the book, getting agent, firing agent, & getting another agent

Posted by E on June 3, 2010

It was last June, exactly one year to today (and no, I didn’t plan it that way), when I made the decision to close down my blogs — not the smartest move, some would argue, given the fact that one of my blogs had close to 90,000 hits between 2007-2009. But I did what I felt was necessary to focus exclusively on finishing my book. Wayyyy too much of people’s time can be taken up with social networking and blogging, and while the encouragement and connections you make with others can be so exciting at first, it can lead to neglecting other tasks. Like finishing manuscripts. Which took me slightly over a year and a half to complete.

And I don’t regret it one bit that I chose to stop blogging, because on January 26 of this year I FINALLY finished the first draft of my manuscript! And after that, life took on the odd, techicolour quality of an amusement park rollercoaster. I could try to describe it, but I think I’ll let my Facebook diary speak for itself:

Facebook entry for Jan26: FINAL TALLY: 2 years, 3 grants, 1 nervous breakdown and countless grey hairs later (lol), I am FINISHED! Final numbers=228,500 words, which I’ve edited down to 226K. By the end of this, hopefully I won’t be more than the 200K mark. But I am DONE!! And too exhausted to feel anything but numb right now…….

The next day, I started querying literary agents. To my surprise, (in all the workshops they tell you to be prepared to wait for months) most of the requests for book excerpts came within 24 hours.

Facebook entry for Jan. 29: This afternoon received query for the full MS from my #1 choice literary agency…they wanted the whole thing. Keeping my fingers crossed! I wonder how long the excrutiating wait is before I find out if they take me on or not…anybody have requests for fulls or partials? How long did they take before they got back to you?

Facebook entry for Feb.9: queried 10 more agents today – 8 in NY, 2 in Toronto. It’s a numbers game, isn’t it? Anybody here have an agent? If so, are you happy with him/her and would you recommend their agency? Look forward to all input and advice. Many thanks in advance:)

Facebook entry for Feb.25:  “a few of us here have now had a chance to read the manuscript and we’re all quite taken with your story” — I’m scheduled for a lunch meeting with my No.1 choice literary agency (still keeping it secret for now) this week – wish me luck that they’ll sign me!

Given the long-standing, international reputation of the agent it is named after, this agency could easily be considered Canada’s top literary agency. The fact that they wanted to sign me right away was incredible, incredulous, and left me utterly ecstatic! 🙂 I mean, realize that all I had was a first draft to begin with – mind you, a well-written and polished first draft, with certain rephrasing here and there, but still…

Facebook entry for March 2: IT’S OFFICIAL – I’ve accepted an offer of representation from my #1 choice literary agency, the Lah-de-Dah Agency! (Name changed to protect the guilty, lol). We had lunch today, discussed the manuscript and sealed the deal 😀

Ok, so here is the point where you break out the champagne, have all your friends over and pretend to be coherent while you’re head’s spinning off in la-la land. You basically have a mini-meltdown a la hyper teen: OMFG, can you believe it, LOLZ!! I was in a euphoria for the rest of the week. And wouldn’t you know it, but the month was just about to get better.

The following week, there are two envelopes in the mail — one big one, with my official contract all signed and autographed from the famous agent the agency is named after, and the other is a shiny cheque for $12,000 from the Canada Arts Council!! I’d applied back in October and by now had pretty much given up on ever hearing from them. Ever the optimist, I was absolutely certain I was going to have my application rejected. I’d never applied before, I only had the minimum amount of required publication credits, yada, yada, yada…..but then, Holy Crap, it CAME!! And not a moment too soon, since I’d just run out of my other $12K from the Ontario Council.

So, as you can imagine, this was one of the happiest weeks of my life. Honestly, I was in hog’s heaven.

And then….it all went downhill. Got a horrible cold that practically killed me for a week, and worse even, I realized that I wasn’t going to click with my agent after all. As an unknown author, a newbie in the industry, the Big Name agent wasn’t going to rep me anyway, and not with a non-fiction book to boot, so I was being repped by two newbie agent associates. Not that it matters what their sales record is, given that they’re working with one of the biggest names among Can Lit agents. I mean, hell, I was represented by THE So-and-So Agency, right? And being told that they get hundreds, even thousands of queries a year and only take on only about 10 new clients per said year, it was an achievement in itself to be on their roster.

And then I realized that they weren’t the agents for me. That just because I was being repped by the same folks who represent Nino Ricci, Vincent Lam, Camilla Gibb and Lisa Moore and half the freaking country’s big-name authors simply wasn’t enough. Not if I got nothing back in the way of direction, input or enthusiasm.

Stay tuned for my next entry, Why I Fired My Literary Agent.

Thanks for reading! 🙂

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