Sad Truth: Getting Published is Like Trying to Find a Legal Job


I considered making that my entire blog post and then leaving it up to interpretation. I thought maybe it would make my blog more literary cuz it forced you to think, you know?   Dig deep.


The truth is, “blah” describes my current feelings toward the finding-an-agent process.

I expected to endure rejection, of course.  If I learned anything from blogging it’s that this industry is tough. Tougher if you’re a woman. Still tougher if you’re a black woman. I was told not to quit until I was rejected by 100 agents. I’ve been rejected, but not by 100- yet. So yeah, I anticipated the ego-bruising part.

What I didn’t expect was for the process to be so much like finding a legal job.

I know. Exactly.

I went to this legal panel a few weeks ago called “Broadening Your Legal Exposure.” It was all about how, in order to make it in this town, you need to join organizations, publish articles, and take on speaking engagements. My reaction was “useful stuff.”

The next day, I, unrelatedly, started browsing through writing blogs about how to get an agent, and gleaned this advice: join organizations, publish articles and take on speaking engagements. And attend writing conferences. My reaction was “are you f-ing kidding me.”

It’s not that I ever expected the process of writing a book to be pure. For better or for worse, I never had the delusion that it was all about the art, creativity, etc.

In fact, if I’m being honest, I was probably counting on that fact to some degree. You know, trying to give myself a leg up by blogging, staying on top of the industry, etc. I tried to turn this law firm background into advantage (beyond the freedom to not write in poverty, I mean). Like, I should know something about business or whatever. I figured that would help.

The problem is that some point along the way, I grew to appreciate the art form more and more and to raise the standards for myself creatively. I put in some serious time, effort and cash to make manuscript the best it could possibly be at this moment. So I’ve done that and now I’m faced with this hustling, networking, get your name out there stuff, and it’s just so annoying.

So annoying.

It’s like Blah.


4 thoughts on “Sad Truth: Getting Published is Like Trying to Find a Legal Job

  1. Hi Monica. I subscribe to The Write Practice and really enjoyed your Revelation post and decided to visit your blog. When I was writing YA, I did the whole agent search thing, too. Surprisingly, I enjoyed the rejection process because in addition to the form letters, I was getting actual criticism. And it was consistent! So I knew what I had to fix. One agent even complimented me by saying that my book could be an episode of Kim Possible (kiddie cartoon on Cartoon Network, in case you were wondering). I’ve since decided to go the indie publishing route because I want complete control of my book cover. I ended up indie publishing two of my YA books and have since decided to put YA writing on hold to try my hand at writing adult romance. I’ve been reading those since I was in high school and my latest character is definitely not a teenager. Once again, I’m in the same boat as you, trying to knock out my first novel in this new genre. Good luck to you!

    • Sorry for the late response- thanks for sharing this. I’m thinking about going with a small press now- is that like an independent publisher? I’d love to hear more about your experience going that route!

  2. I feel your frustration even though it was great seeing you yesterday! I can remember our days in Esstman’s Extreme Novel class and was thinking how far we’ve come since then in our own journeys not just in our writing life. Did you hear the agent question come up to one of the 3 panelists? All three of them talked about how they got their agent in some weird social setting. Not one said anything about going to a conference pitching for 5 minutes- and being in the trenches. That was a bit of a turn off—but I guess we all have our process to greatness even if there are the blah moments. The blah moment will eventually lead to a YES!!! Finally!!! Moment one of these days. It is something I have to believe. And I still can’t get the cow bells out of my head!!!

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