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Slow writing vs. agent representation

Posted: September 15th, 2019, 9:40 pm
by Klimpaloon
My writing process seems to be molasses compared to most publishing authors I hear about--for them, a manuscript is completed in 2-3 years max (to say nothing of those who write multiple books a year), whereas for me I'm 5 years in on the first draft of my current WIP and it's probably a little over halfway to the end. Given my previous (also unpublished) projects, this is par for the course for me and is unlikely to change much in any future writing exploits I have.
I've gotten the sense that most agents want to build a career for someone who can reliably release multiple books in a relatively short amount of time and build the momentum. I know that querying for my current book is still a long ways off, but how much should I worry about how my inability to be productive will affect my ability to get an agent?

Re: Slow writing vs. agent representation

Posted: September 17th, 2019, 9:56 pm
by Nathan Bransford
Good question and I'd say it really depends.

First, I don't know that I would necessarily come out and tell the agent how long it took you or assume that your future books will necessarily follow the same trends as your past one. Let me tell you that writing while under contract is very different than writing with blue sky freedom. You may find that once you know exactly when you need to be finished that you buckle down and move forward at a brisker pace.

But even if you write slowly, whether that matters also depends on the genre. There aren't many hard and fast rules here, but building momentum tends to be more true for things like genre fiction than, say, literary fiction. But even within genre fiction there are exceptions (think: George R.R. Martin).

All the same, I personally would take a deeper look at your own work habits and gauge whether you can speed things up, whether that's through better time management or an accountability system. I'm not a personal believer that writers always need to wait for inspiration and think that it's worth forcing yourself to power through from time to time. But that's just me!

Re: Slow writing vs. agent representation

Posted: September 23rd, 2019, 2:59 am
by Klimpaloon
Hi Nathan, thank you for encouragement-filled response. Unfortunately I know myself too well and I am not resilient in fast-paced environments, no matter what goals I set for myself (and while I've never written under contract, the times I've attempted and utterly failed NaNoWriMo do not give me hope that deadlines and structure would help much). I also strongly doubt that I'm exceptional enough to warrant the amount of leeway that people give to authors like GRRM or Pat Rothfuss.
Still, I have no intention of giving up on my WIP just yet. I've endured it for this long without abandoning it and there's a reader trapped inside my head who is quite invested in seeing just how things are going to turn out. But when it comes time to query and/or self-publish, I'm probably not going to get my hopes up very high.