Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Getting my First Agent

I had been working a real job that took all my time and I felt my literary career slipping further and further away from any sort of reality. I was at a crossroads when I decided I had to do something or I would lose sight of my dream of being a novelist altogether. I had written several novels that continued to gather rejection letters from publishing houses and I became convinced my problem was that I didn't have an agent. I had sent my partials to many agents and received the same rejection letters that publishers were sending with just a different letter head. But sending out more manuscripts seemed futile. Somehow I had to break through the wall of New York publishing. There was only one thing to do, go to New York.

I arranged to stay with a friend in Brooklyn and gave myself two weeks. It was my vacation time and so I went to New York in the beginning of December. I brought forty partials of my two novels and and my thick WRITERS MARKET listing all the agents. I flew in and settled myself in my friends apartment and readied my attack. The next morning I took the subway into Manhattan. The day was cold and overcast. I got off the subway in lower Manhattan and began to walk with my heavy backpack. I went to the first address I had pulled out of WRITERS MARKET. A very harassed man answered the door in a small office. I explained who I was and handed him partials of my manuscript. He stared down at the pages like something strange and foreign. Well I've never had anyone come too my door and hand me a manuscript he said, staring at me.  He shrugged. Thank you. I'll look at it.

This then was my plan. To drop off my partial manuscripts and synopsis all over Manhattan. To literally walk to every agent I could find. That first day I hit ten agents and returned to Brooklyn with blisters on my ankles. The second day I headed out in tennis shoes and worked my way into Mid Town. The agents were in small office, large offices, apartments, high rises, bungalows, basement apartments. Some of them were nice and invited me in. Most of the agents just took my manuscripts and smiled for the doomed. One harassed man in a small office overflowing with manuscripts cried out, this isn't done this way. Another agent sold me a book he had written. Another agent working out of his apartment said he was getting out of the business because fiction was too hard to sell.

I ran out of manuscripts on the third day and ran off forty more copies. At the end of two weeks I had hit every agent I could find and had no more manuscripts. I flew back to Chicago to wait for the fruit of my labor. Kind letters came back from the big apple and silence. I never did get an agent from that trip to New York, but a month later I quit my job and started writing full time. I landed an agent later that year. He was one of the ones I had missed.

"Rocket Man is a hilarious, well written novel about one man's search for the New American Dream." - James Frey, author A Million Little Pieces and Bright Shiny Morning

The funniest serious novel since Richard Russo’s Straight Man, rich with the epic levity of John Irving and salted with the perversion of Updike." - Chicago Sun Times

Writer in Residence for the Ernest Hemingway Foundation William Hazelgrove's third novel is "a charming tale of fatherhood, family, and the American Dream." (Midwest Book Review).

"This critically insightful diatribe against conformity is recommended." - Library Journal

Books by William Hazelgrove