While my second novel languishes in obscurity on my agent's desk, I've jumped right into novel number three. This time, I've decided to change up the game a little and do a science fiction piece.

You'd think, geeky as I am, that scifi would have been my FIRST choice. You'd be right. I spent most of my younger years writing little vignettes of scifi, short stories that never really got much more than kudos from kinfolk. I had a few things published here and there, but for the most part I was an obscure writer with a penchant for technobabble. My dilithium matrix was cascading into an uncharged duometrinol intromascular coupler.

I made all that up.

My first novel, though, was horror. Why? I have no idea. I had some vague notion of writing a supernatural thriller because that's how Stephen King got his groove on. And my favorite author, Orson Scott Card, had done a couple of interesting "ghost stories" that I liked. One emulates one's heroes, one believes. But the book lacked any real organization and it frankly it's something of a nightmare from an editing standpoint. But you know what? I wrote it. A few hundred pages of 5a.m. writing and I did it. That instantly put me in a narrow percentage of the population - people who say they want to write a book and do.

Then, after years of feeling bad that I wrote something I figured I'd never even show anyone, I started writing another book. This one was inspired more by the likes of Nick Hornby. "Man-lit," as my sister-in-law, Heather Staible, calls it. I think the correct term is something like "Contemporary Fiction." Something along those lines, anyway.

I liked the book. I had plotted it in an outline before writing it (something I swore I'd never do... so much for swearing, kids!). So it had organization. I had developed the characters and the story using elements from my own life and experiences. Far from being autobiographical, it was "loosely" based on things I encountered every day. So it had that feeling of being "personal." That feeling almost made me keep it hidden away, too.

Instead, I found an agent. The New York Literary Agency in (you guessed it) New York, New York. I contacted them, sent them the manuscript, had them review and rank it and whatever else they do to it, and then...

Well... that's been pretty much it. I haven't heard a thing back from them in quite a while. I get the occasional e-mail telling me there have been "hits" on the book in their database, but those usually come as a result of ME e-mailing THEM and asking, "WTH?" That's "What the heck?" for the unitiated. It's much cleaner and nicer to say than the alternative you usually see.

So I'm a little disillusioned in my agent. I'm planning on pulling the book and finding someone new. I believe, under the contract I have with NYLA, that I have the right to pull it after 90 days if it hasn't sold. So I'm pushing it on other agents now to see if I can find decent representation.

I know what some of you might be thinking - 90 days isn't a lot of time to sell a novel. I agree. And I would gladly give them much more time if I just heard SOMETHING from them. If they would just once a month write to me to tell me that they've A) made some progress or B) made no progress but are still trying. Heck, tell me you've given up on it, but tell me SOMETHING.

Also, I'm a bit concerned that any phone conversations I attempt get deflected. I can't reach these people by phone. I get a secretary who assures me they exist, but can never track them down. Busy people, I'm sure. But here's a novel concept (pun intended) - how about RETURNING a phone call?

So I'm scouting for a new agent. I want someone I can establish a personal relationship with so that if I write something that's stinking up the joint they'll tell me and I can fix it or write something better. I need to know if anyone cares about the work so I can streamline the best way to shape it or reshape it.

Maybe I should just go the self-publishing route? A lot of authors have done that, and it seems to pay off for them. Book deals come out of that all the time.

Something to consider.

Well, if anyone has any ideas, knows an agent or happens to BE one (or a publisher!), let me know. I'm actively looking for them!

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Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.


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