As many of you know and some of you might not know, I’ve written a book called Diary of a Broken Mind, a memoir about my son Charles who died by suicide that includes our story as well as his published and unpublished lyrics. So you get the point of view of what our family went through from more than one perspective.
It was tribe here who encouraged me to write it.
I don’t think I’m “important enough” to get an agent. I’ve been wondering if that is the case. I’m not famous, nor do I have a platform of ten thousand subscribers. Book publishing is a business and it does not have huge margins so it’s what I’ve suspected. I’m not hurt by that. I just want to know which way to go in terms of marketing it to get it published. What might be reasonable given the status that I have now?
So it looks like a small, independent publisher may be interested. We’ll see. But in trying to figure out what my expectations should be, I reached out to an agent I wanted to get in touch with late last year. She was out on leave at the end of 2018 and returned in 2019 and I reached out once she returned. Fortunately, she remembered that her cousin had recommended that we speak and that she take a look at my proposal.
I did get a rejection but damn if it’s not the nicest one ever. To be honest, I’m elated with a rejection because they at least OPENED the email. In most cases, they don’t.
I won’t say who it’s from but I was actually stoked to get this.
“I put this right on the top of my pile to read this morning because I know you’ve been waiting for a final answer from me for a while.
As a mother to three children—and the wife of a husband who lost his sister to addiction—I read this with agonized interest. You have paid beautiful homage here to Charles’s creative abilities, and you are doing such valuable work educating other families on the realities of our broken mental health system.
Despite my tremendous admiration for your work, however, I’m afraid that I agree with my colleague that I am not the perfect champion for you. We are particularly well-known for our psychology and grief lists, and because of that—and the devastating scale of the opioid crisis—I’m afraid we’ve seen a proliferation of family addiction and loss memoirs in the past few years. As a result, we are only able to get the deals we feel clients deserve for authors with the highest national platforms. It’s so frustrating.
My fingers are crossed for you with the small press, and I wish you, your husband, and Richard so much peace and good fortune from here on out.
Translation: Their market is starting to fill up (something I was afraid of) and since this agency focuses on nonfiction, they get a lot on this subject–at least on the opioid part. She goes on to say for that reason, her agency has set its sites on those who are more well known with larger platforms. By platform, agents and publishers mean online presence. They want memoirs from people like Michelle Obama who has millions and millions of fans. The agent is encouraging me to make a deal with the small publisher if ultimately they are interested, it’s a good match, and there is sufficient trust.
I am so grateful for this message because it’s what I suspected but was not getting any answers and my efforts lately felt like I was spinning my wheels. Now I have an answer and a direction.
I’m disappointed that speakers at conferences I have attended have set unrealistic expectations. For me to get an agent, it would take a least another year if not more and by then all publishers would have reached saturation on the subject matter.
I will let you guys know if I get a deal in the coming months. Or not. From here on out, it will be included in every public presentation I give. It’s more likely to happen from that angle than from sending queries to overflowing email inboxes.
Thanks to all of you all, I think my proposal is really strong because I took screenshots of your quotes and sprinkled them throughout the proposal. I feel like I need to go straight to publishers.