Why literary agents are invaluable to writers (even in the age of DIY, E-book self-publishing)

I met my literary agent, Rachelle Gardner, this past Sunday. We drank mimosas, talked books and shared laughter at a seafood grill overlooking Lido Peninsula's boating docks. I'm pretty sure I've been dreaming about that day since I was a little girl. I'm happy to report that the real-life experience totally lived up to my dreams.

Because for as much as the publishing industry has changed with the advent of E-books and DIY publishing, having a good, traditional literary agent is still important. Priceless, even.

Sure, I could publish an E-book by myself (and maybe someday I will!), but the honest truth is that a professional literary agent has far more business sense and industry savvy than I do. Which is to say, I'd rather spend my energy writing.

I don't even have a book deal yet but the professional advice, guidance, knowledge and industry know-how that Rachelle has given me is beyond priceless. I could cry thinking about how incredibly grateful I am to have her working so hard on my behalf.

I'm writing this today to encourage you that if you have dreams of becoming a published author, just start writing. Wherever you are. Right where you're at. Launch that blog. Write everywhere. Write daily.

I've been doing this blogging thing for five and a half years--largely for free. I've written guest posts, parenting columns, magazine articles, newspaper articles, essays for collaborative books, forewords. I've written for collaborative sites, hosted linkups, tweeted, posted on Facebook, written about Facebook.

What I'm trying to say is that it didn't happen overnight. I used to think that if I wasn't a published author by age 30, I'd be a total failure. But this hasn't been true at all.

I wrote in total obscurity for years. And that was necessary!

Writing is a journey. It's not about keeping up with anyone else or reaching some kind of goal--although it's nice when goals are accomplished. But what has brought me the greatest joy is the very act of writing. This has kept me going through multiple rejections and detours.

No matter what I'm writing, I love the process of writing. I love rough drafts and re-writes, I love editing and polishing. I even love teaching writing to others!

Do you love writing? Well, then. You're a writer! Don't let anyone smash your dream. Don't let anyone make you feel less-than because you haven't accomplished x, y or z. And really, try not to compare yourself to others. You are on your own journey!

Everything I've done has led to something else and despite multiple rejections and many detours, all of it has led me to where I am today with a literary agent by my side.

When I started blogging five and a half years ago, my goal was always, always, always to write a book. That has been my dream since childhood. As a little girl, I filled notebooks and journals with writing. I filled drawers and boxes with my stories and poems. I wrote plays and fake commercials. I recorded little "radio shows" on blank tapes and played them for my family.

But my biggest dream was always, always, always to write a book.

I kept the goal of writing a book in mind even as I wandered and wondered my way into finding my authentic writing voice.

The point is: it's OK to wander. To experiment. To take your time. I have learned (and am still learning!) to enjoy the journey!

We still don't know when I'll get a book deal. But I'm not worried about that anymore because I have a GOOD agent and she's taking care of me. In other words, having an agent lets a writer focus on what's really important for a writer: the writing. 

On Sunday, Rachelle's biggest piece of advice for me was to get professional head shots. Well, ack! I don't have a budget for that. So, I'm back to do-it-yourself! Good thing I have a handy hubby who obligingly shot a few pictures of me in our backyard. And then my beloved dog, Darby, trotted over to see what was going on and she got in the pictures, too.

Whaddya think? Which one is your favorite? Which one would look best on the back cover of my book? (eeek! i can't even believe I'm writing phrases like "my book"!!!)

 1. Little Smile

2. Medium Smile

3. Big Smile

4. With Darby

5. Big ol' laugh