Not me, as in Sierra (although in point of fact I do not have an agent). But everyone. I bet many people wonder this, especially if you have friends or fellow writing buddies who have agents. Lots of people probably suffer from Agent Envy (and those who have agents but no book deals probably likewise suffer from Book Deal Envy). I think this is natural. I also think everyone who suffers from the envy probably tries to hide it. But it’s there, isn’t it? Especially if you’ve gone through the exhaustive query thing and done everything right and revised and fixed and followed rules and were ultra-professional, where God where are the agents knocking down your door?
Usually when I have some neurosis like this, it turns out that lots of other people have it too. So with that, here are my reasons as to why you (or me) do not have an agent:
1. Your or your book isn’t ready yet.
Everyone is at a different stage in their growth. Just because you and your friend are mind-twins in terms of brilliance doesn’t mean you’re both at the same place of writing maturity. Maybe she is and you aren’t. Or maybe you are and she isn’t, but she had a super hooky commercial fiction and you went the way of a slim volume of poems about dried up rose petals. Get over comparing yourself.
2. You write for a different market than your peers.
Maybe you write for one that's way slower, or has much more stringent requirements as to what you can submit and have accepted. Know your market, and adjust expectations accordingly. Don't compare to other writers in other hot or popular markets.
3. Everything is perfect except some unforeseen stupid ass first chapter crap that you should have known better about.
No one’s perfect. You learn. It’s okay. The key is discovering the crap part and fixing it, then picking yourself up (or scraping yourself out from under the fridge, if necessary) and carrying on. Writing a good story that is well formed in every way is hard.
4. Your book isn’t as good as you thought it was.
Look, even Jonathan Franzen’s FREEZE could have benefited from a critique group. Everyone makes mistakes. Just go forward, because if you give up then you won’t go forward. Consider very carefully whether your story is as interesting as you thought it was. If you aren't enjoying it after 107 read throughs, then maybe the book isn't really that great. Just move on.
5. Your time hasn’t come yet.
Or everything happens for a reason, in its own time. It could be that you are similarly clever to everyone else to has an agent, and that your book is dynamite. But as someone (super apologies for not remembering who) said recently, finding the right agent is like online dating. It’s going to take a while to make sure that right chemistry is there. Maybe you, in your life right now, aren’t quite there yet. It’s okay! You will be. Just later.
Finally, I leave you with a metaphor I’m shamelessly stealing from Kristen Lippert-Martin's extremely mega awesome query manifesto series (Part 1 and Part 2, git over and read them if you haven’t--they are BRILLIANT). Kristen tells us a story about doing a bike marathon thing and going up a heinous hill and nearly puking from it, and wanting to murder all the people whizzing down the hill in front of her, only to realize when she got to the top that all those people had had to struggle up the hill first, just as she did, before they got to whizz down. Read her version, it's better. But still, you see what I'm saying. All those people who have agents? They did the struggling--your struggling--already.
What do you think about these five reasons? I know lots of you are in this limbo field where you're querying...does any of this make sense? Care to add any?