With several projects in the works, three middle grade novels, picture books, a chapter book series proposal, and several new ideas, I started out trying to get an agent. I’ve been agented before, and enjoyed working with both of my agents. They were nice people who tried to do their jobs the best way they knew how, and I appreciated their advocacy and support.

Since my last agent and I parted ways at the eve of the pandemic, and I’ve been querying for the last 2 1/2 years, I’ve noticed that agent’s responses have become less personal. And although I have received dozens of requests over the years, and have corresponded with some amazing and dedicated agents, it seems as though the majority are searching for specific types of manuscripts, popular or trendy tropes that my stories don’t reflect. These agents are saturated with materials, wading neck-deep in clever, witty, creatively unique ideas from writers all over the world, who are talented and gifted creators. Most agents are people who love books too, and they are doing the best they can.

But sometimes, as a writer querying my stories, and although most rejections sink into a dark hole where I tell myself it’s to be expected, there are times when one rejection, for one reason or another, just hurts.

For example, recently, after writing a thoughtful and personal letter to an agent, letting her know that she was the only agent considering this particular proposal, and the book had an editor’s interest, and then the agent sent back a cold form rejection … I wanted to cry. Normally, I’m fine, but sometimes there’s that one that breaks you.

What I’m saying is … in the big picture of agent searching, I’ve concluded that getting an agent isn’t the end all and be all to publication. If you’re not interested in becoming a famous author, and all you care about is getting your stories out there, submitting manuscripts on your own, meeting editors at conferences, through contests or Twitter events, there are plenty of writers who can attest to the value of going that route instead.

Because I have an R&R with two agents for one of my middle grade manuscripts (the other is entered in a contest), and another agent is considering another manuscript, well, for now, I still hold out hope of receiving an agent offer, but if they don’t pan through, there are other options.

We’ll see what happens, but just in case, I’m grateful there are still opportunities out there that won’t require an agent. I still have options, which means there’s still hope.