It finally took an agent to persuade me to go it alone.
At the start I spent a great deal of research on the perfect agent, made it a full court press to get my book in front of them, but the fact is my book is not one that sells on reading the first ten pages, which is the most that agents generally read, and the thirty hours of work finding and targeting each perfect agent was wasted hours, although I did learn a lot in the process. The problem with the deep commitment to a single agent is that they do not have a deep commitment to even read what you send them. And if you are working far out in the tent without a net, then you need that sort of commitment.
In my quest for the perfect representative I was lucky in having industry contacts. I ended up having lunch with a few agents, who were very kind to tell me the unvarnished truth, which came down to the following.
1. Most agents will not take disabled or neurodiverse authors on the theory they get more productivity out of able bodied authors. Agents are not in the business of saving the world or seeing that liberal ideas reign, they are in the business of selling books, and for them it is strictly math. The math may be faulty - my industry experience makes me an excellent worker with a strong sense of storytelling, but they cannot know that, and being cut off from my own industry my own reputation means nothing.
2. Most agents as I have said read ten page wonders. That means the book has to be a slam dunk in their minds in the first ten pages, which is why so many works are over written in the first chapter and then settle into a more sustainable story telling mode. Many works that do make it that do not follow the block buster in ten pages path are sold by the elevator pitch, but as a neurodiverse person no one will let me on that elevator unless I am riding it for a television pitch. (Most of my agent meetings were the agents agreeing to listen to me about my work if I was willing to put their book in front of someone in television. Such meetings are cool, but not the perfect way to do things.)
3. The publishers who read the book out of friendship tended to love it, but they had corporate rules requiring agentry and really should not have read it in the first place due to nepotism issues.
Agentry works because the system needs people who can sift creative work in a logical manner, and certainly my own industry has it in spades because of high production costs, but several agents and a publisher all said that their normal advice not to self-publish is not pertinent for me, with a back drop of works that are basically ready for the printer. And this does not close off later getting an agent.
In my case a limited work horizon and the need to efficiently produce my planned body of work in a high quality in a short amount of time spending as little money as possible on that work is essential to even seeing my artistic vision through. And in some ways getting my work into the world will be essential to what I have defined as artistic success.
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