I am in the process of getting my young adult (YA) novel ready for submission to an agent. I’ve created an entire file full of synopses and “back of the book” blurbs of different lengths, character descriptions, chapter summaries, market analyses, etc,–all the elements different agents want in the proposals writers send to them.
In the middle of writing all these documents, I realized I must also trim the novel itself because right now its word count—which is often required on the first page of the proposal—is long enough that many agents won’t even read all those other carefully crafted pieces—or the manuscript itself.
When I told my husband this, he protested (sweet man). “What if it needs to be that long? What if it actually decreases its quality to shorten it?”
Years of cutting news and magazine articles down to word count specifications make me doubtful of that. A good cutting generally clears the fluff so the essential and good stand out more clearly.
Besides, the question of quality is moot. I read my husband this quote from Chuck Sambuchino at Writer’s Digest:
“Agents have so many queries that they are looking for reasons to say no. They are looking for mistakes, chinks in the armor, to cut their query stack down by one. And if you adopt the mentality that your book has to be long, then you are giving them ammunition to reject you.”
I transition here to the real point of this blog post.
As I was cutting last week, feeling a bit overwhelmed and very uncertain, I thought, “Oh, God, I am so thankful you are not like an agent!”
It’s true! God is not looking for reasons to turn us away, to narrow the field.
He is longing, in fact, to accept us, all of us, with open arms. He calls for us.
But as I thought about this more, I realized I/we act as though God were an agent.
Following his quote above, Chuck Sambuchino went on to say that writers can, of course, assume that all the fine points of their manuscript will outweigh the flaws, that agents will be so amazed by them, they will overlook the too-long word count or editing errors or…
We do the same with God. We come speaking of our tidy editing, acceptable word counts, stunning plot, or brilliant characters; we spread chapter summaries, 35- 50- and 75-word summaries, a 2-page synopsis, character descriptions, and a back-of-book blurb out on the table.
We pretend God is an agent we must impress.
We pretend we can impress Him.
Agents’ requirements remind me of the Old Testament Law, which Hebrews tells us could never make us perfect and Galatians calls “our guardian until Christ came.”
When we continue to live under the Law, coming to God with hands full of our offerings, our work, He will not accept any of it; He rejects it because every bit of it is flawed.
But here is an incredible difference: He hopes we will agree with His assessment.
Because that is the one thing, the only thing, that will gain us entrance with God: our acknowledgment that we need His provision (Christ), that we are incapable of producing anything acceptable.
He wants us to cry out in desperation for Him.
When we do, He crushes us in His arms.
Because though He can’t accept our work, doesn’t want our work…
He does want us.
2 thoughts on “Not an Agent”
So… Can I read your novel when you guys come to visit in August? 🙂
Sure! Hopefully I have finished all my cutting by then.