Friday, December 15, 2017

Nobody is interested . . . until they are

I came to agenting from a writing background, and in fact have a number of books published under a different name. Back when I was on the query-go-round myself, I collected umpteen hundreds of rejections for my various projects. I had a few nibbles here and there, got requests for fulls, but nothing that really got close. Until one day, when I did.

It was that perfect intersection of my writing being finally ready, a project that hit the market at the right time, and a well-written query. Suddenly, everyone seemed to be requesting, and I didn't just have one offer for representation, I had a half dozen.

It was strange at the time, and magical, although I didn't realize that I was merely entering the next level of hell, the endless submission and rejection phase. (The book has since been published and sold about 160,000 copies, but it took another three years to reach publication from the initial offer and signing.)

This same scenario has played out for me twice this year, but from the agenting side--with the last two authors I offered representation to, in fact. In the first case, I read the book, knew right away that the voice and overall skill level of this writer was perfect for me, and had a brief conversation only to find out that tons of other people were interested.

It so happened I was attending a conference in this writer's home town, and we were able to have a face to face meeting, which seemed to help. I was delighted that she accepted my offer, and we're on submission with her book even as we speak.

In the second, I'd also met the writer (and strangely, at the same exact conference), but I was a little behind the curve, as other people got their greedy hands on the manuscript first. When he said he had an offer, I blew through the manuscript, again knowing right away that he really had something going. We had a great call, and while I knew that there were something like eight or twelve(!) other agents considering, I felt that my odds were good.

We hit his deadline to make a decision, and I got the bad news email. Apparently, I was in second place, although maybe he was giving me a gentle lie. Still, kind of a blow. In fact, as this was literally three days ago, I'm still grumpy about it.

The blow is always softened by the sheer amount of work to bring on someone new, go through revisions, submissions, the stress of waiting for an offer while fielding the inevitable rejection, and so on. I have another book that I'll be submitting right after the holidays, and so my Christmas week will be significantly less stressful than if I were trying to prepare two for the market. In addition, I've got a few other promising manuscripts I'm working through, and if one of them hits, I don't have to feel sudden panic about working with three new writers, plus the aforementioned one I'm already marketing.

This is a long windup to get to the point, but if you're laboring in the query trenches, take heart. You might be sending off your queries only to have form rejections and even silence greet your efforts. But none of that history means anything. Work hard enough on your craft and your production and suddenly you'll find more interest than you know what to do with.