Over the last nine months or slightly more I've been personally connected with at least two agents who have requested to read samples but gone completely dark. The first agent was a reference via a published colleague who asked for 50 pages. The second was an old classmate who has moved into the publishing world. The latter did not seem like a good fit (in all truth, neither did the former) for what I was writing and to tell even more truths the work was raw.
However, I've sent multiple follow up emails after waiting two months or so in between communications just to check in on progress. The first agent has never responded to any of my emails after her request for pages. The second has sent notes of a more social bent ("how are you? what's new?") but when I ask about the sample I sent ... crickets.
I'm totally disheartened actually and I don't know how to take this. If two agents to whom I have a personal connection don't have enough regard for what I've written to just let me know definitively that they aren't interested does this mean my work is really that bad? (i.e.: Are they so embarrassed by the quality of the writing that they cannot even deign to even say "thanks but no?")
Is this normal or should I stop typing for the rest of my life?
These are the stories I like to point to when someone insists "you have to know someone" in publishing.
I'm convinced it helps if you don't.
On my end, when someone comes via a friend or a connection, there's no way to simply send a form rejection. (Remember, form rejections don't indicate your work is bad; only that it's not a fit for what the agent is looking for right that minute.)
Often that "personal connect" query sits in my query in-box waiting for me to have the time and the composure to write a note that is both kind and considerate but in the end regretfully passing. If you think we just whip those things off the top of our heads, you are SADLY mistaken.
Which means that you hear...crickets. Often for a long stretch of time.
And worse, with a personal connection of sorts, we feel like we should at least read the pages even if the query is for a book we know is a pass, and that adds MORE time to the delay.
Right now you know only one thing: you do not have an agent. You know nothing about the quality or caliber of your work. You know nothing about what they're looking for (or not.)
Well, ok, you know two things: you don't have an agent and the second agent you queried isn't dead.
Here's the solution: QUERY other agents.
In fact, query a lot.
Cause really the best revenge is going to be when you have this email exchange:
AgentSlackerPants: oh man, I just read your pages and you have a terrific novel. I feel bad it took me so long to get to it. (Subtext: I was clearing my inbox for vacation and finally read this)
You: Oh gosh, I'm so sorry! I just signed with Agent NimbleToes two weeks ago, and she's got the manuscript out to twelve editors, two of whom have already responded that they are putting together an offer.
Personal connections are not always helpful.
Don't let these two agents discourage you.
In fact, if you need your hopes and dreams crushed, there's really only one place to go: my inbox.