Getting an Agent 101

March 19, 2008

If we were taking a class on Getting an Agent 101, I’d be the one in the front with my hand perma-raised asking the instructor the annoying unique-situation questions.
Thought I’d dramatize the scene for you a bit…
Instructor: Ok, so you send your query out and in a few weeks to months you should hear a response.
Me:(waving hand in air) Oh oh oh! Teacher! What do you do when an agent calls you minutes after you query telling you she’s very excited and please Fed Ex her now?
Instructor: Well, that’s great, Lindsey. Send it to her. She’s obviously enthusiastic and you can be cautiously optimistic.
Me: She rejected it already.
Instructor: Then why are you asking me?
Me: I was wallowing.
Instructor: (shaking her head and smiling at the other agent hopefuls) Now, sometimes you will get a revision request. I always say to try it, because you lose nothing, it can make your story stronger and show the agent you can revise.
Me: (Bouncing up and down in seat) Uh… teacher? Quick question. What happens when you have two or three agents ask for revisions, but they’re all asking for very different things, and you’re willing to revise but you’re not sure if they really understand the point of your story and you even work on revisions with one agent for months, then send it, then NEVER HEAR FROM THEM AGAIN?
Instructor: That doesn’t happen.
Me: It did to me.
Instructor: Then you keep querying. You don’t give up.
Me: Even if you’ve queried all of the agents you’d really wanted to work with and although you got a lot of close calls, you’re still left with zilch?
Instructor: (Rubbing temples) In that case, start on your next novel. And take those rejections to heart. If they said you first novel was sweet but they couldn’t sell it, then go commercial.
Me: I did.
Instructor: How commercial?
Me: Princesses. Lots and lots of princesses.
Instructor: Then query it to the ones who gave you a positive response on novel 1.
Me: Ok, and what if, in the mean time, you have an editor ask to read novel 1, the same novel agents thought an editor wouldn’t be interested in, and she likes it and wants to start working on it with you?
Instructor: Then do it! (turns her body so she’s completely blocking me off in my corner. Hey, how did I get in the corner?) Now, publishing is always changing. Keep a look out for new agents coming in.
Me: Yeah! Query them, too!
Instructor: Lindsey, please. This is my class and if you can’t respect that, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.
Me: (shrugging) Well, I only have one question, really.
Instructor: (sighing) What?
Me: What happens when you send out novel 2 and suddenly have multiple offers on St Patty’s Day, all from fabulous agents. How do you decide?
Instructor: (all lights go off except for a spotlight shining down on her) You weigh out the pros and cons of each. Talk to them both. Don’t rush it. Figure out their vision for your career.
Me: And then?
Instructor: You go with your gut. You gut will tell you who is the right fit for you.
Me: (nodding) Good. That’s what I did.
Instructor: You did? Wait, so you HAVE an agent?
Me: Oh yeah. Sarah Davies at Greenhouse Literary. She’s positively brilliant. Read both of my novels over the weekend and had a real passion for both pieces of work. She really really understood my writing, and me. She’s new to agenting, but has been in publishing for twenty five years, so she has the expertise and connections that come with that kind of background. Oh, and she’s British, which really doesn’t matter I guess, but it makes talking to her on the phone that much better and I like how she spells honour with a u. And I’m actually glad I didn’t find an agent a few months ago, because Greenhouse wasn’t even open yet, which is all very serendipitous and hindsight is 20/20 and stuff like that. We’re both so happy to have found each other, which is always an indication of a good match, don’t you think?
Instructor: So why are you in this class if you have an agent?
Me: (standing up) Uh, I don’t know. I guess I just got comfortable in here. So, um, can you tell me where Getting a Publisher 101 is?
Instructor: Down the hall.
(I leave and another student raises their hand)
Instructor: (flopping down in her chair) Yes?
Other student: Yeah, so can you tell me what a uh… qur.. que.. query is?

Thanks for the emails and comments over the last little bit, and to everyone somehow involved in this journey. I know it’s not over, it’s really never over, which is what makes it such a fun ride, but I’m so glad I have someone who Knows Her Stuff championing for me. 

Site Meter