Please, dial down your enthusiasm and remember: no one has agreed to anything. But I did have a second agent request the full manuscript of Things That Were Lost! Oh, look! All of Seattle is decorated in bright lights and glittery bows in celebration! (There’s nothing wrong with the world that a little self-delusion can’t correct.)
Remember, finding an agent is not the same as getting published, and it’s not even necessary if all you want is to hold your own book in your hands. Plenty of authors go the self-publishing route, and some of them even sell lots of books and become famous. (The Martian, anyone? Eragon?)
However, I really, really want an agent. I’m aware of three reasons; it’s possible some deep psychoanalysis would reveal more but let’s work with what we’ve got, shall we?
- A good agent will be able to help me refine my book to make it even more sparkly and addictive.
- A good agent will know the legal ins-and-outs so that I don’t sign a contract that leaves me without, say, my left arm or my first-born child if my book sales aren’t as high as expected.
- A good agent will operate as a smarter, market-savvy version of my super-ego that will tell me when a new book idea is on-track for winning the Newberry and when I should never repeat my idea to another soul, ever. Because it’s just that bad.
In a post a few months back, I described the standard process for querying agents. From my first round of querying six agents, I received one request for the full manuscript, three “I’ll pass” emails, and two non-responses (which I read as passes, but from agents that are too busy to send a form email–no comment).
So, a few weeks ago I dove in again. First, I looked at the first ten pages of my manuscript because that is often all an agent requests before making a decision (I know, right???), and even though I’m stoked I received one request for the full novel, one out of six is just not good enough. So, after axing my first three chapters, I pulled up my list of favorite books and authors in my genre, researched their agents, and wrote personalized query letters to six of them. And, again, I’ve already had one request for the full manuscript! That means two real-life agents have something lovely to read this holiday season, and my book has an opportunity to reel them in. This is getting very exciting, people!
It’s true that, with an agent, I will not get to keep 100% of the proceeds from my book. But guess what? I don’t want 100% of the proceeds! If I could pay you, my faithful reader, to buy all my groceries and clothes and thoughtfully selected Christmas gifts for my family and friends, I would. So if I can give an agent money that will never even hit my bank account in order to avoid things I find unpleasant, well, hooray!
I don’t want to be too optimistic here (actually, I’m not really sure I can help it; call it a personality defect if you must), but What do I do when an agent says they want to represent me? Do I immediately accept? Do I contact all the other agents who currently have my query? Do I run up the credit cards buying cigars for all my friends?
I have no idea. But I’m excited to find out!
photo credit: me. unless you believe it to be clearly amateur and juvenile, in which case my ten-year-old son did it.