One of the definite downsides to living in the boonies is the wildlife. I mean, it’s great and all, but not when it’s totally batty, winging through my house emitting sonic shrieks.
Yep. We’ve got actual, real-life bats, and despite having an exterminator tamp down every possible access point, somehow it’s a common occurrence. My money’s on interdimensional portals, which their guarantee conveniently doesn’t seem to cover.
How common of an occurrence is this? Whelp, let’s just say I have a dedicated bat-net beneath my sink, and I’m not even joking.
So, last night when my eldest rushed into the bedroom, hands in the air to fend off the dive-bombing jerk, I pretty much just sighed and closed doors on the way to grab my net.
And as I stood there in the middle of my living room watching the furry little devil craze around the ceiling and trying to time my swing; it occurred to me that wrangling bats was a lot like a foray into publishing.
Yep, I do draw ridiculous parallels a lot. Stay with me for this one.
Keep your eye on the prize, or you’ll be running around in circles.
Bats are frickin’ fast, and market trends change. Angsty vampire teens were hot, then not, monster romance is now a thing, tomorrow it might be vegetable samurais. There’s no way to tell, and if you flit around from project to project trying to hit the market’s latest darling you’ll never make any progress.
Worse, you’ll be exhausted. Did I mention bats are frickin’ fast? They’re agile too, and can turn on a dime.
Much like an agent’s wish list.
My advice? Stay in your zone, writing the book you want to read. At some point, the market will circle in your direction, or you’ll find the niche readers who can’t devour books about warrior carrots fast enough. They’re out there, trust me.
Be strategic in your moves and focus on quality, not quantity.
It’s super common to finish a manuscript and want to send it out to every agent on the planet that might have an interest in your work.
That’s literally like standing in the middle of the room swinging your net blindly, hoping to get lucky. Bats are pretty smart, and they’re gonna give all that flailing around a wide berth. The ones that don’t? Well…let’s just say netting a stupid bat isn’t as satisfying.
Do your research, learn how to increase your chances with the right agent, not just any agent. That means looking up who’s made deals for books similar to yours on Publishers Marketplace, following them on Twitter—X, or whatever it is now—and looking at manuscript wish lists, both on Manuscript Wishlist, their agency page, and their website.
There’s a ton of resources out there. Use them to strategize.
And keep your fingers crossed, because an element of luck is involved.
Last night I got into my bat-stance, (Don’t ask) ground the ball of my foot into the carpet, and tracked that flying mammal with narrowed eyes for a good five minutes before it came right at me from across the room.
My net zigged out.
The bat zagged to avoid it.
And I got him on the backswing.
Yep, he was pissed, I was pleased, outside we went, and cursing me steadily, he flew away into the night.
But that catch never would have happened if I hadn’t been in the right place at the right time, eyes on the prize with a plan.
So the next time trying to break into the publishing industry is driving you batty, take a deep breath, grab whatever support equipment you need, and strategize. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for you, and hope you start snagging deals with the same frequency I’m evicting bats.
AK Nevermore writes science fiction and urban fantasy with spice. She enjoys operating heavy machinery, freebases coffee, and gives up sarcasm for Lent every year. Unable to ignore the voices in her head, and unwilling to become medicated, she writes about dark worlds, perversely irreverent and profound, and always entertaining.