So it's official:
I failed to get an agent for my novel.
After querying about 110 different agents across the United States, the UK, and Canada, I got a full manuscript request from two of them, both of whom declined to represent my work. There's an off-chance an un-agented press might take a chance on it, but it seems unlikely.
The funny thing is, after four and a half years of writing on-and-off, I'm not nearly as crushed as I thought I'd be. I always knew that the transgressive content of the novel would probably preclude it from being published through a major publishing house, and even if it did get an agent, it'd be very difficult to slip it through the narrow band of tastemakers that filter out works that're deemed unacceptable. A first-person novel through the eyes of a White-supremacist-misogynist was always going to be a hard sell, so I'm not really surprised that it wasn't picked up.
Although I'd definitely fantasized about getting an agent for my first book and finding traditional literary success, I'd also drawn up extensive plans for self-publishing the novel. Someone who really inspired me was Jack Cheng, a writer who ran a Kickstarter for his first novel after failing to get it traditionally published. It's a successful model for sharing your work with others through circumventing the literary gatekeepers. I'm still undecided on whether or not I'll take this route, and it'll ultimately depend on the success of the associated film projects I'll be undertaking in the coming year. A group of my artist friends have banded together and we're looking at telling the story of the novel in snippets through a series of short films, which is a project I'm super excited about.
In the final analysis, I failed, but I don't feel bad about failing. I don't regret the hundreds of hours I spent writing and re-writing this book, because I loved almost every moment of it. Making art brings me a level of joy and fulfillment that almost nothing else does. At times, I wasn't sure if I was going to write a story of the calibre that I wanted to, but eventually, I was able to meet my own internal bar of quality and I'm proud of what I accomplished. I always finish what I start.
So is this the end of Beta Male?
It remains to be seen. I'll probably sit on the manuscript for awhile before deciding whether or not to self-publish it. Even if I don't, I may attempt to find a publisher for it several years down the road, if I manage to sell another book instead.
After all, I've already started on the next one.
people I admire
Bret Easton Ellis