As a writer, I’m one of the lucky ones. The two books I’ve written were published by a huge publishing house. They did pretty well, too. Nice reviews, decent sales. But that was then. 2008 and 2011 to be exact. It was a time when, if you rolled memoir, humor, and chick lit into a fast, funny read, agents and publishers were interested, really interested.
I was good at that. Still am. Only now, no one is interested. Why? Because I don’t have a huge platform, a mega social media presence. I’m not a TikTok or Instagram influencer. Hell, my largest following is on Facebook and that thing, I fear, is as doomed as the Dodo.
It’s very disheartening and frankly I’ve come to the conclusion that it would be easier to grow a third eye in the middle of my forehead than to find an agent. There are days I want to quit querying and walk away from the idea of ever being published again. But I don’t. I persist. And if you are or have ever been in a spot similar to mine, maybe my reasons for stubbornly pursuing my goal will help you to do the same.
I believe in my work.
Before I ever had an article, never mind a book, published, I believed I had something to say that others would relate to. As a memoirist, I write about it all. My depression. My inability to parallel park. My unsurpassed talent for reaching into my purse for a pen and pulling out a tampon — in the middle of a meeting. My days as a new widow. My always and forever role as an autism mom. If it’s part of my life, I write about it a) because I can’t help myself and — even more importantly — because b) I’m positive somebody out there needs to know they’re not alone.
I believe in the law of averages.
Ages ago, when people still mailed cover letters and resumes to prospective employers, my dad encouraged me to send out dozens. I’d hear nothing, not even crickets, and still he’d urge me to keep applying. “It will turn around,” he’d say. “You’ll start getting calls. Then you’ll start getting interviews. And then you’ll start getting job offers.” Freshly minted college grad that I was, I figured he knew nothing. Ha. My dad was right then, and he’s been right several times since. And so, fingers crossed, I continue to query.
I believe that at some point, the emphasis on platform will lessen.
I understand why agents and publishers want memoirs written by movie stars and politicians and television show hosts. The sales are guaranteed to be in the hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions. But I do think at some point readers will crave real, relatable stories written by real, relatable people. The tide always turns and I believe this one will, too.
Believing these three rather basic things is what enables me to keep pushing even on those days when want I want to call “Cocktail hour!” at ten in the morning. It’s my hope they’ll help you push forward, too.