As The Floater transforms itself from flat to fabulous, I’ve been pondering my next move. Do I repeat my less-than-fulfilling experience with self-publishing? Or should I query a few (or a few hundred) agents in the hope that one might take me on?

Let’s look at the pros and cons:

On the one hand, as soon as I hit the “send” button and fire off my first query to a faceless agent in New York, I’ve handed over the keys to my fate and signed on for a wild, emotional roller-coaster ride. Literary agents are a busy breed; they get hundreds of unsolicited queries a day and have a plethora of possibilities to choose from. If I’m one of the lucky few who is asked for a copy of my manuscript, I’ve got to be willing to place my project in the agent’s slush pile for God-knows-how long. So, if I embark down this road, I must be willing to see my plans for releasing The Floater this summer derailed. And that's only a small taste of things to come.

If—miracle of miracles—an agent actually brings me on board, then the fun really begins: “Oh, we can’t have Norma doing that. It will offend readers. Oscar can’t say that—it’s too Black. Mainstream publishers won’t like it. Oh no, they’ll never use that cover. It’s not original enough.” Now admittedly, I’ve never progressed far enough down the traditional publishing path to know this for a fact. But as an attorney, I understand how business works: No matter how skillful a writer one might be, you still have to provide a saleable commodity that people will want to buy. The publishing industry is no different. It’s not about an author's creative vision but all about selling books to the masses. If I’m sufficiently talented—and equally lucky—to land on a literary agent’s select roster of clients, I'd better be flexible about my work.

On the other hand, agent representation is a fiction writer’s lone route to the brass ring—that elusive and prized publishing deal. Every novelist understands this. And just about every wannabe craves that benchmark of success, even if it means turning into a hack. It tells the reading public you're a legitimate writer, whereas our self-published books, however praiseworthy they may be, always leave room for doubt. This is why, no matter how much we might try to deny it, we long for an agent's seal of approval somewhere deep within our souls. We're no different than Norma Reyes, who despite having earned her law degree from a fourth-tier school, covets a slot at a top-notch firm. And like Norma, if we’re unwilling to “bend over and spread ‘em” for a shot (however slim) at the big time, then we’d do ourselves and those agents a favor by taking back the reins and giving our self-proclaimed masterpiece to the world one pitiful unit at a time.

I have a confession to make: I’ve queried three agents already. I’m not holding my breath, but I am holding out a glimmer of hope that The Floater is now good enough for the major leagues. We shall see.