Yes, this is filled with whisky

Yes, this is filled with whisky

Thursday, April 14, 2016

My agent gave me his blessing to have a second agent, but...

Two years ago I received representation for my mystery novel. It wasn't picked up by a publisher, and so I wrote another novel, this one an urban fantasy with a mystery component. Even though it's in a genre that my agent doesn't rep, he gave me his blessing to write it and promised to take a look. He finally got the chance to read it, and while he said the writing was good, he didn't have the connections to pitch it. In short, he gave me permission to seek representation for it elsewhere and advised me to explain to agents that, while I am rep'd by him in a completely different genre, he has no problems with me branching out this early in my career should I get "the call."

I'm worried though, and I want to make sure I handle this professionally. How common is it to have two literary agents (assuming I have the good fortune to actually have lightning strike twice)? Wouldn't a new agent be put off by my already having rep, even though I have no publishing credits? What the heck do I say if I get "the call" that can explain to this new agent that I'm serious about this new genre, and that I'm not trying to pull one over on him/ her?

Right now, my website lists both genres, both my real name and the pseudonym I want to use for urban fantasies... It's enough to make me pull my hair out. I can only imagine what a new agent will think.

Let's start with the fact that most of us won't even talk to you if you have an agent now.

It's possible to have two agents but it's much more usual if the split is fiction/non-fiction, or adult/kids.

It's MUCH more likely to have co-agents  than two agents in fact. For example, Fabulous Sean Ferrell wrote two terrific adult novels which I was very happy to sell. When he turned his hand to picture books, I knew he needed better representation than I could offer. Prestosharko, I called my boon companion in crime, the Estimable Brooks Sherman. "Former minion," said I. "Sell this and make us all rich and famous." Being an excellent agent, Brooks did just that.

I am Sean's only agent. Brooks sells Sean's picture books on my behalf. We share the commission and I let him drink my booze when he comes over for his wheelbarrow full of cash.

Your situation is neither fish nor fowl nor good red herring. It's tying you to an agent who hasn't sold anything for you, and precludes most of us from even considering your work.

Mystery and urban fantasy are different genres, but they're sold the same way, and to the same kind of reader. In fact some editors acquire both.

The question is not can you have two agents. The question is do you want the one you have now.


Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Wheelbarrows full of cash? NOW I know how you can afford Sherwin Williams as YOUR agent.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Janet: ediotrs? 2nd bottom paragraph of your column.

Well, this is an interesting conundrum. I feel for Opie. I'd be pulling my hair out too. Actually I am pulling my hair out with writing just one story, one genre.

Kitty said...

Lisa, I know what you mean. Not having written an entire book myself, I gasped when Opie said her first book “wasn't picked up by a publisher, and so I wrote another novel.” Just like that, so I wrote another, which sounds so easy although I’m certain it wasn’t.

Which brings me to Janet’s subhead: "Writing a book is an act of love, or it should be."--Susan Bonifant

My experience has been that the conception of a book is an act of love, but its gestation is grueling labor.

nightsmusic said...


My word of the month! :)

From the OP's question, it makes me wonder if said original agent really even wants to rep OP. I'm probably wrong, but if OA is enamored enough of OP's writing to sign him/her, one would think they would work something out for book 2. By the sounds of it, either OA wasn't enamored enough, got discouraged by the failure to sell or doesn't really want to work with OP at all. I would ask if they still wanted to rep me in the original genre and if not, ask for an out.

I agree with Kitty! "So I wrote another novel..." sounds so easy...

Have a wonderful day all! It's sunny here (finally!) warming up and I'm having lunch with my BFF of 45+ years because she's in town from Austria and I only see her once or twice a year now.

Lucie Witt said...

Geez. While I really want an agent, and the query trenches are a stressful place to be, these past few days have reminded me that getting an agent only opens the door to approximately ten thousand more things to stress out about.

OP, I would think Janet's last question is the one you need to answer for yourself. I can think of multiple agents that rep both mystery and UF. Why not find one of those?

Nightmusic - have fun! My oldest BFF lives out of the country. It's a special day indeed when I get to see her.

Colin Smith said...

Excellent post!

(Topical= Good; Word count <3; Frequency <100... or something like that. Only 98 more comments to go...) ;)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Prestosharko - *big smile*. I think there are 1 or 2 in the Reef that have a co-agent sort of situation. I will be happy with just one agent, and pray they are as amazing as Janet and can keep me from shooting my career in the foot. I need coffee. Where is my coffee minion?

Good luck, OP. Maybe you can see if your agent can offer the kind of co-agent thing Janet describes. Wheelbarrows full of cash and an open bar- now that is the life.

Colin Smith said...

OK, seriously (before Janet has a chance to exile me AGAIN), my thought reading this was along the lines of Janet's practice. Maybe I just assume what Janet does is industry standard practice, but I thought if YOUR agent (not a prospective agent) loves your latest novel but doesn't know the genre well enough to sell it, YOUR agent (not YOU) will find a sub-agent, as Ms. Shark did with Mr. Ferrell. Easy to say when you don't have an agent, but, as Janet suggested, if your agent isn't prepared to do what it takes to get something of yours published, Opie, maybe he isn't the right agent for you? Especially if you might write more Urban Fantasy.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

For whatever reason, a lot of fantasy does have a private investigator mystery/crimestoppers element. The Dresden Files, the Anita Blake books, the Connor Grey books...But, people who want cozies, or Norwegian police procedurals, or serial killer books don't necessarily want wizards and witches and werewolves all up in their stories (and for whatever reason, these P.I. Urban Fantasy books are also frequently what I refer to as "kitchen sink" books, meaning they don't stick to one paranormal critter but cram 'em all in as the series progresses). And people who want their urban fantasy don't necessarily want it to be a private investigator mystery/crimestoppers book.

I know Janet is our gold standard here, but the way she laid out getting Fabulous Sean Ferrell's picture books represented sounds logical, professional, and lucrative. I think Janet has also said she discusses with prospective clients what else they write, and what else they'd like to write, which perhaps would prepare an agent for a "writing outside their represented genres" issue, and perhaps give them advance warning to perhaps keep some names in mind as coagents. Or they never thought of coagents, and Opie can take this back to their agent and say "Hey, so what about this?"

I think, in light of my very muddled second paragraph, if an agent said to me "This s great, you can find somebody else" I would perhaps.....find somebody else.

BJ Muntain said...

Why would OP's agent say, "Find another agent", rather than find a co-agent for himself? Does this agent not believe in OP's work, after being unable to sell OP's first novel? Does the agent not know any other agents who could help him sell this novel? Maybe the agent just doesn't like urban fantasy?

So many questions, barely touched in OP's question.

The agent must know what Janet said: "most of us won't even talk to you if you have an agent now."

Does he figure the OP will give it a shot, be disappointed, and return to writing mysteries?

OP: Ask your agent why he didn't suggest a co-agent. Get some answers. Have a serious talk with your agent. Maybe you'll decide to part ways. Maybe you'll both come away knowing each other better, and better able to work together.

DLM said...

This brings us back to the "questions you ask before you get married" theme of the week. If you want three kids and the partner wants none - or ten - it's going to affect your outcomes.

"I really enjoy writing dino porn, and you are my dream agent as I query my triceratops three-way novel - but comedic sci fi also calls to me creatively. Would you be a good rep there?"

And, not to throw cold water on the creative process, but it's also a good thing to discipline yourself in terms of what you write. Yeah, authors don't choose our subjects, they choose us: BUT it is possible to cultivate a general direction. We can open ourselves to certain subjects, and encourage our muse in certain directions, and try not to run off after that plot bunny that's hopping off into territory where the agent who's signed me cannot or will not follow.

CERTAINLY, we know we can't assume that the agent who signs our debut in one area will follow us in some other direction if we do not ask.

french sojourn said...

My first thought before I even made it into the body of the post was.

My wife gave me permission to get another wife...what a can of "you deserve a six pack of self inflicted whup ass."

Just my take, back to the salt mines...salt minds?


Robert Ceres said...

This blog is starting to give me panic attacks.

Colin, What Janet does is the industry practice, so far as I can tell.

What I would hope from my agent in this situation:

One, an honest and thoughtful appraisal of the ms, along with strengths, weaknesses, and what might need to improve.

Two, a definitive, workable, and honest opinion on where to go, including a more reasonable approach than find a second agent to work with in parallel. That is clearly not going to work.

Three, a pick up the phone to another great agent in the agency, or friend from another agency, say an agent named Barbara P. along the lines of “I’ve got a great client with a great book that’s outside my domain expertise, but right up your alley. Can I send his manuscript along your way?”

That’s the gold standard in the business world that I personally strive to emulate. I hope it’s the gold standard that the agent I eventually land would automatically take.

Whoosh. Time to crawl back under the leaves and into my woodland hole. It’s a nice day here in central PA. Maybe I’ll come back out after another cup of coffee.

Crap, I’m over a hundred words again.

Colin Smith said...

OH! Thanks for reminding me Diane...

Check out the Treasure Chest. I've added a pdf called "Questions to Ask a Prospective Agent." So far, this is a compilation of a couple of Janet's posts on the topic. I have some other lists to go through for possible inclusion, so I intend to update it in the near future. In its current form, it should cover the essentials.

NOTE: Any comments, suggestions, errata should be addressed to ME at MY email address (see my Blogger profile). Bugging Janet about anything in the Treasure Chest (other than telling her how awesome it is and she should send me books ;) ) is a potentially exile-able offense.

DLM said...

Colin, my friend, any time. And you are a treasure for keeping these things together for us.

Rob, the more I read (and not just from Janet), the less I expect or believe that there is *anything* in publishing that can really be considered industry standard, especially at the querying stage.

Donnaeve said...

Prestosharko. It sounds like a magic wand. Can I buy one?

Sometimes work doesn't sell. It doesn't mean an agent will dump a writer. (speaking from experience) I'm not saying a writer can put out 10 non-sellers and not get dropped, but I do think writing a book they were signed for and it not selling isn't immediate grounds for dismissal for all agents. Some will say sayonara, (sp?) some won't.

This is what is odd for me. To me what is strange is OP's agent said, "go ahead," on OP writing a book in a genre they don't rep. Then OP finished it, and agent said, "writing is good, but I can't sell it."


Lennon Faris said...

Oof. Yep, I guess 'ask agent if they will follow you throughout career' to list if not already there. I feel like there should be some definite industry standard here?? Janet's sounds very reasonable... Honestly it sounds like OP's agent is jumping off the band wagon in a cowardly kind of way.

Colin Smith said...

Lennon: Yes, it's on the list. Along with "Have you read my novel?" :)

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Colin, thank you for putting that wonderful compilation of questions into the Treasure Chest (and the humorous woodland critter response as the preface!!)

Robert Ceres said...

I just deleted my second post after rereading the original post. Da-doop-de-da. I should read more carefully.

The op DID talk to the agent before writing the out of genre book!?! So puzzling.

Laura Mary said...

Oh dear, second post this week on agent woes! I used to think getting an agent would be time to break out the champagne, I'm starting to realise it's just one small shuffle closer to champagne popping time!

Or maybe we should all just start drinking champagne willy nilly? What could possibly go wrong there? ;-)

Bethany Elizabeth said...

I learn something new every day! I'd never heard of co-agents before. Here's my question: Obviously, OP is pretty stellar to have gotten an agent in the first place (congrats! :D), but what if their agent doesn't think the book is sellable? And, knowing that all things are subjective, doesn't want to crush OP's spirit or tell them to shelve a novel that may be gold for someone else?

I've heard the advice, "Don't sign with an agent who doesn't love your work to pieces," a million times. What happens when the agent you have doesn't love your new book?

Mark Thurber said...

It seems like a common thread in many of these agent angst stories is author uncertainty about whether the agent is telling it to them straight or trying to come up with an excuse for a graceful exit. I guess that's another thing to try to assess on the Call: Will this agent always give me the straight truth, however painful, or instead try to pussyfoot around uncomfortable issues? (Thanks, Colin, for keeping the list of Call questions, which we all hope to need sooner rather than later!)

Sometimes an agent may legitimately feel that a client relationship is just not working. How do the best agents handle this situation, which has to be wrenching for agent as well as author?

This also gets me to thinking about how stressful the choice of deciding who to represent might be from the agent side, especially for agents who are just starting out. It's not a commitment to be entered into lightly. I feel for those who are in the early stages of trying to build a career off 15% commissions from early-stage authors!

Craig said...

First I will go ahead and apologize to Miss Donna. No matter which end of this ten foot pole I hold it will hit her in some way.

I can see both sides of this. It looks like the beginning of the long kiss of goodbye. If it was a marriage it would be irreconcilable differences.

I know how hard it is to make business connections. An Agent's sales side is based in that. Therefore I can understand only trying to sell what you have a history with. Compound that with something that was in your market but could not sell. I can see getting jaded a bit. I like how the Queen from Minnesota states that she has had luck in selling thrillers. This agent would do well to emulate that.

From the writer's side I can see the desire for publication. I can also see trying a new genre when you last effort failed. Do remember though that focus is important. If you stayed in a genre where mystery is at the forefront it you will have a back list book to also show off when asked "What else you got?"

Try to open communications some and see if you can stay in a relationship. If not you might as well have a clean break.

Celia Reaves said...

Flying my jaunty ignorance flag here - Colin, how do I go about finding the awesomeness that is the Treasure Chest? I'm not seeing a link here on the blog. It sounds like something I really need in my life! Thanks.

Colin Smith said...

Celia: I linked to it on my previous post. Click on the word "Treasure Chest." Alternatively, you can click here:

The Treasure Chest


Julie Weathers said...


This brings us back to the "questions you ask before you get married" theme of the week. If you want three kids and the partner wants none - or ten - it's going to affect your outcomes.--

Some very good friends of mine had very strong battles while they were courting about this. He being very socially aware of "the right thing to do" only wanted one child. She wanted three. They finally settled on two since she wouldn't marry if it was one and one. She got pregnant the second time and had twins. Rawr. He's thrilled with his three beautiful daughters.

Life is what happens while your busy planning.

OP, I think you're going to have to split the sheets and find a new agent. Hopefully, you'll find an agent who reps both facets of your writing. Be of good cheer. You've attracted one agent. You'll do it again.

An agent sent me an interesting rejection today. She had the full, but had it forever. It had been so long I just wrote her off as no response. She apologized for taking so long, but said she's gone back and forth on it several times. She loves the writing. In the end, she doesn't love the story enough to offer rep. However, please contact her with future projects. Unfortunately, she only reps sci fi, fantasy, and YA. Le sigh.

Celia Reaves said...

Thanks, Colin. On YOUR blog, not the Queen's. Got it!

Adib Khorram said...

Maybe I have an overly-idealized version of how the publishing industry works, but it seems to me that there ARE "industry standard" practices insomuch as agents who are worthy of the title adhere to those practices as best practices. Certainly AAR serves as a guide.

Both today's post and yesterday's smack of schmagent-ery to me. But maybe that's a harsh, judgmental outlook.

Janet has set the bar for professionalism very high. I cannot imagine signing with an agent that doesn't live up to that.

Julie Weathers said...

To those of you who are astounded at the, "so I wrote another novel."

What else would you be doing, pray tell? The idea(s) for the next book ought to be grazing through the gray cells before you type The End on whatever you're working on.

You're a writer. You write. The end.

And from Hemingway--Once writing has become your major vice and greatest pleasure, only death can stop it.

Colin Smith said...

Celia: Sorry--I meant my previous COMMENT, not post. The Treasure Chest is hosted on my website (not blog) so I can maintain it without having to bother the Shark about it. There are no links to it anywhere except here.

Christina Seine said...

Opie, I agree with those who suggest a second look at the agent you have. =( I hope everything work out well for you.

There's something about the process of getting published that reminds me a lot of Greek mythology's take on Hell.

Remember Icarus, who thought he was going to fly to the sun just because he'd acquired an agent? He totally got burned.

And Persephone! She was fine following agents on Twitter, reading all the QueryShark entries, and even subscribing to Writers Digest. Then she attended 6 workshops at a writers conference and was forever tied to the underworld. I mean, um, writing world.

Poor Sisyphus had an MFA - and thought he was a peer of the gods - and ended up in Tartarus (hell) spending eternity pushing a boulder up a mountain. It always got away from him right near the top and rolled down, and he had to start revising - I man pushing the boulder up the mountain all over again. For eternity.

Tantalus killed off one of his darlings (OK so he cut up his son and ate him) and was punished by having to stand for eternity just out of reach of lovely fruit hanging from trees and also unable to reach the water at his feet. Tantalized, in other words. This metaphor for publishing is almost too obvious.

And then there's Ixion, who spent so much time envying a NYT bestselling author's (Zeus) success, that instead of doing his own thing, he made a cheap copy of Zeus' WIP (wife). This resulted in the birth of Centaurus, who later gave birth to hybrid publishing (and dino porn). He was punished by being tied to a winged flaming wheel that was always spinning, which is pretty much the writing process in a tidy little nutshell.

It's enough to make me think the ancient Greeks invented the slush pile. And Carkoon.

Cheryl said...

Julie: My thoughts exactly.

Here's my list:

4 trunked; 1 that I figured out I'm not qualified to write yet
1 first draft finished
1 10,000 words into first draft
1 about 5000 words from finished second draft with notes for third

And I just started making notes for The Dream Novel (you know, the one you've always been saying you'll write someday?) because I'm travelling to the perfect location for it soon.

Yeah, it seems like a lot, but I work best when I can flip between them in the early stages so I'm always writing something.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

This post and yesterday’s post should remind us how important it is to research your agent, perhaps, before sending that first query. Anywhere in the entertainment industry where there is money to be made, there will be a certain amount of chicanery.

It is already difficult enough trying to breach the walls of traditional publishing, why make it harder by just randomly sending queries to agents. I am in no way saying this is what this or yesterday’s OP did, but there are things you can do to check out an agent before you ever court them so that we woodland creatures may not end up having our joy at attaining an agent turn to dust in our mouth.

If you are buying a house or a car, you spend a good amount of time researching and checking out said car or building before you spend a big wad of hard-earned cash. I feel a writer should be even more careful with an agent. Use Janet as your standard. It is a high one, but if you shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you will land among the stars.

Read your genre. Find your favorite author in that genre, one that has had good sales. Find out who represents that author. Then check out that agency. See who the agent represents. How many clients does the agent have? How many have sold books? Janet only lists a client after they sell something.

Be wary of an agent that has a ludicrously long list of clients but precious few sales. Check out the client list of an agent you are thinking about. Have you heard of any of them? Get familiar with a few. This will help inform you on the agent's tastes and also caution you if your stuff is too much like another client's stuff. Anyhow, you know what they say about an ounce of prevention, yes? Do the extra research. It will be good for your career. At least, that is what my unagented little self whispers in the dark reaches of the night.

Lennon Faris said...

Adib - When I query now, I immediately look for AAR. If they don't have it I just x out of their page. It seems too risky...

Julie - your situation sounds almost the same as EM's yesterday. That's a rejection... but a really good one. Hope you can see that!

Christina Seine - I have no idea where all these bizarre comparisons come from in your brain but they are hilarious.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Oh my Julie, that is a good rejection although certainly not as fun as an offer. You really are a terrific writer. No doubt you will find the right agent in time.

When I posted yesterday about my rejection, while I was disappointed, I had meant to make the point, that a polite and kindly given rejection is probably better than a half-hearted offer of rep. Best avoid the situation this OP and yesterday's OP have found themselves in. At least I can still dream about that perfect for me agent.

Donnaeve said...

Craig, not sure how your ten foot hit me, or was going to hit me, I didn't feel a thing!

My point wasn't really about this agent's ability to sell, or even about the difficulty of making connections. It was more about telling a client something along the lines of "sure, go ahead and write the story that's not in my wheelhouse and I'll take a look at it."

OP does just that, likely thinking the agent will try to sell it, or figure out a way to make the right connections, or...something. When finished with the story, OP is met with "good writing, but I can't sell it."

I still say "Huh?" I don't know how OP approached the agent with this new idea outside of the agent's wheelhouse. Maybe OP was REALLY enthusiastic and the agent didn't have the heart to say "if you write that I can't sell it." I would rather have my agent tell me what he thinks he can sell (and he has).

Jen said...

Hi guys. OP here. Volunteering in my kids' cafeteria is almost as painful as this whole agent situation, which I know is a First World Problem for a writer, but...

I signed on about 2 years ago in good faith. This agent has a lot of BS authors under his belt. He was my dream agent. I was beyond thrilled to have him rep me. He got me an exclusive with a Big Five publisher. I was living the dream. A month after signing, he followed up w/ a question about the MS. Then crickets. Finally, after my reaching out to him FOUR months later, I got a curt email reply. Fast forward to trying to get his take on this UF MS. I know I'm a small fish in a big pond. That doesn't bother me. I don't need to hear back all the time. But when you've got a novel on sub, you kinda want to know something once a month or so, right? Anyway, my first mystery was on sub for a year and a half. In that time, he sent it out to only... 2 more publishing houses.

I think (and I have to guess at this point b/c it's not like I can get a hold of him to ask) he only pitches to places that give advances. Or the Big Five. In any case, the market for cozies crashed according to him. Which is why I worked on another genre, even though I have another idea for a cozy I could be writing.

My friends and family have told me to break the contract (which you have to do 2 months prior to the anniversary, or you're stuck for another year). I told them it's damn hard to get an agent, and why should I assume I'll be lucky enough to get another?

Anyway, after reading all the comments, I feel like I should take a leap of faith and cut the ties, even if it makes me feel like I failed. Thanks for listening, guys. :)

Jen said...

"He has a lot of BS authors..."

meaning "best-selling."

That just looked... wrong.

[head desk]

Colin Smith said...

Jen: LOL--I was thinking JUST that! "My goodness, if he's the agent for BS clients, Opie needs to get out of there!!"

Thanks for sharing, Jen. I'm sure Janet will have words of wisdom to share, but, tough as it is, it sounds like you'd be better off with another agent. At least you have valuable experience, and the knowledge your writing and querying is good enough to snag an agent. :)

Christina Seine said...

Jen, you're a brave woman. Both for volunteering and for posting. =)

It sounds to me like you know what you need to do. We've all got your back here. You CAN do it, and you HAVEN'T failed. My goodness, you got an agent!!!! Many of us here would cut off their pinkie toes for that. Don't settle for something that isn't what your heart really desires, and definitely don't sell yourself short.

P.S. "BS authors" LOL!

Julie Weathers said...

I don't know. Good storytelling is really nothing more than the fine art of bullsh!tting.

Kate Larkindale said...

Good luck, Jen! Sounds like you've made the right decision. It's hard, I know, but you can do it!

Julie Weathers said...


Break the contract. You don't have an agent now. Why renew a contract with non-existent agent? Gawd amighty. It's like staying in an abusive relationship because there might not be anything better out there.

You're worth more than that.

Your work is good enough to gain the attention of a dream agent once, you can do it again.

You didn't fail. You succeeded in getting writing a novel. You landed an agent. Said agent got your novel to a publisher. You wrote another novel. What does that make you? Right. A big damned hero. Cue Firefly.

Now, find an agent who's worthy of you.

And that goes for the rest of you who are having doubts. You're living your dreams. You're not talking about them, you're doing something about them. So stop beating yourselves up. We all get down at times. I just came through through one.

I used to live in Wickenberg, Az right out in the middle of the danged desert where people drowned every year. People drowned in the desert? Yup. They'd camp out in those nice clean washes. Perfect place for a campsite. Until one of those heavy rains hit and flash floods ripped through every gully and wash in the desert taking everyone along with the raging water.

Don't camp in the low ground. It'll kill you.

Brigid said...

Christina, between this and the Disney song list, your creative juices are flowing somethin' fierce!

Adib Khorram said...

I find the terms of the agent's contract quite alarming—give notice two months before the anniversary or you're stuck for another year? It makes the agency agreement sound like a blind-box subscription service.

Panda in Chief said...

Apologies for not reading all of the comments, first off, but yes, my understanding (by virtue of my having had an agent for an entire week now) is that Janet is correct. Your agent shouldn't tell YOU to go out looking for another agent. If there is not another agent at the agency where your agent works that handles, then they should have some other agent buddies that they respect that they can share this particular project with.

This seems like another plus to being in a multi agented agency, where they have different representation specialties. Before signing with my (!!!!!!) agent, I had read a post where he discussed this very situation. Of course they try to find someone in the home agency first, but will go outside the agency for a suitable co-agent for that project if they have to.

Sounds to me like it is time for one of those unpleasant kinds of conversations. Better for you to initiate the conversation than find out the same way I found out I was no longer represented by a gallery that I had shown (and sold well) at for 17 years. Hey look! I'm not on the website anymore.
True story.

John Frain said...

I empathize with you. Sometimes you know the right answer in your head but your heart won't go there. Or vice versa. Until someone else can see the situation through a wider lens.

You just got a lot of input from that lens. You'll know what to do. The good news is you've done this before. Yes, it's hard work. It wouldn't feel so good to succeed if it wasn't such hard work, but when you give an honest self-assessment, you KNOW you can do it again. Strap yourself in, and enjoy your ride. This is all part of your story.

Thanks for sharing it.

RachelErin said...

Laura Mary - we should definitely be drinking champagne willy-nilly.
Is there any other way?

I'm sure I'll be glad I have all this information on things that can splat when I'm getting query responses, but right now it makes me scared. What am I planning on putting my poor little book through?

Amanda Capper said...

What Julie said. Exact same thoughts went through my head and now I don't have to type it all out because Julie did it for me. Thanks Julie!

Let me just say, I love it when OPs identify themselves. Not sure why. Makes it more personal, I guess, when I know them. Well...not really KNOW them...

John Frain said...

Aside to Colin for this: "Check out the Treasure Chest. I've added a pdf called 'Questions to Ask a Prospective Agent.'"

If I was in charge, I'd give you -- oh, I can't even type that with a straight face. Forgive me. I don't even have voting rights yet.

Take 2:

If a Get Out of Carkoon Free card existed, I'd nominate you for one as thanks for putting the Treasure Chest together. You only have the same 24 hours as the rest of us. Well, somehow Janet has 36 which I'm still flummoxed (<--- ha!) about, but most of us get 24.

Panda in Chief said...

Now that I've had a chance to read a few more of the later comments, It looks like you know what needs to be done, Jen. You are strong, you got an agent once, you will get another one, and one that will do better by you. See if you can get out of your contract even if it is not the required 67.32 hours before the time of contract anniversary (only during periods of the full moon, otherwise 78 days, 14 hrs and 57 minutes). sounds like this guy is ready to have you move on, but doesn't want to be seen as the bad guy.

We do have your back, and I agree with everything Julie says. Always what Julie says.

Celia Reaves said...

Julie!! Yes. I want the entire thing as the subhead. I'm copying every word into a Read This When You Get Discouraged file.

Thank you.

Julie Weathers said...


Yeah, well, copy it without the typos. Sigh.

SiSi said...

I do love this blog and the commenters. Sometimes the OPs' questions terrify and/or depress me, but then Janet's answer and the comments pick me up and throw me back into the action. When I'm ready to query, I think I'll be ready. Probably.

Joseph Snoe said...

I kept waiting for Janet Reid’s last sentence—and there it was. It may be time to leave your agent as scary as that may be and start the difficult task of finding a new one. (as OP Jen recognizes later in the comments!)

Kitty – If you think gestation (writing) is grueling labor, wait until you hit the third or fourth revision.

Robert Ceres, it was worth reading over a hundred words for your comment. Thanks.

Oh Julie —Far Rider is SOOOOO close.

Christine Seine at 12:40 - COMMENT OF THE DAY –it’s wonderful.

Christina Seine said...

Aw, thanks Joseph. =)

Brigid - thanks! I've gotta put it somewhere, since my WIP is driving me absolutely nuts. You know when you get an epiphany, and you go YES, that's exactly what I need to do! But it means literally re-writing all 100,000 words of your MS - again? And your brain goes I CAN'T but your heart says YOU GOTTA? That. Plus, two more weeks of Lent, and my brain doesn't work properly without the regular application of cheeseburgers.

Hmmmm. Being a writer means making all the hard choices, it seems.

Jen said...

OP here again.

E.M. Goldsmith- I did that and then some. For the original genre for which I wrote and queried, he’s highly respected and one of the best. But I hear you. He just isn’t the best for me, I guess. Too bad. He really is a nice guy, but… yeah. I guess I just didn’t want to face the fact it’s time to move on.

Christina- Thank you!! My biggest fear when posting this is that word will get around, and I’ll somehow find myself blackballed for complaining. Sounds silly, right? Those worries that you need to just put up and shut up, that you shouldn’t bother your agent because you’ve had it drilled into you NOT to do so while querying, those feelings of insecurity never really go away. Well, maybe if you’re Lee Child. ;-)

Julie- You’d be surprised how it feels EXACTLY like being in a relationship. And OMG the Firefly reference! [Squeal of delight] :-)

Your encouragement is much needed and appreciated everyone. Thanks so much! God, I love my tribe of writers. said...

Reading the post, I was thinking this agent must be a wet-behind-the-ears young pup of an agent who hasn't yet learned all the ins and outs of How Things Get Done. And maybe there was hope for OP that he'd be amenable to a suggestion in the right direction. But then Jen commented and tells us this guy is a big shot agent with gobs of money-making clients and . . . good lord. Does this mean he's too self-satisfied and making good enough money with his established authors, it's not worth his time and effort to work a bit harder when a new client doesn't get a quick and easy sale?

Good reminder here that a "dream agent" might not be the best fit for you. Ask those hard questions when you get an offer.

Jen, I agree with everything Julie said. And I'm reminded of what Janet has said many times (paraphrasing), that you are not a beggar at the table of publishing. You deserve better. Good luck, I'm certainly pulling for you.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Jen- I so feel for you, but if you landed one great agent, you will find a better one that better fits your career. You have definite confirmation you can write. I bet you find someone faster than you think you will.

When researching agents, I was tempted by my current favorite author's agent. Great reputation. The pinnacle agent for fantasy writers, but I read on several author blogs that if he takes you on, you have one book to prove yourself so I decided not to query that agent. Which worked out as it turns out that agent is not open to queries. It is tough to be a small fish in a great ocean.

Donnaeve said...


"In any case, the market for cozies crashed according to him."

I clicked on your name to see if I could email you offline. I couldn't, so I'm back out here to say, *email me.* I know an agent you might be interested in - very possible you already queried this one, but we can see.

Sam Hawke said...

And this is just another example of why this blog is such a goldmine for us woodland creatures. It's too easy to see 'getting an agent' as the finish line, after which we can relax... it's important to remember that a) that's still only a beginning and b) things can still go wrong after that initial signing, and you need to be cautious and ask questions, and be prepared for how to handle it if things don't work out.

But, man. Sometimes these questions break my heart.

BJ Muntain said...

Lennon: I hope that you're giving non-AAR agents at an agency where senior members belong to AAR a chance. Agents have to be working as agents for years before they're eligible for AAR membership. By bypassing all non-AAR agents, you're bypassing all newer agents. And newer agents can be great catches. I can think of a few I wish I could have signed on with before they filled their lists.

Lennon Faris said...

Jen - hello! it's always brave to 'out' yourself. It's always helpful to hear an update, or just more information. The 'dream agent' bit is particularly enlightening. That must have been so blinding. I know it would be for me. Anyway, I'm glad you've found some encouragement here!

I'm surprised to hear someone say that a genre crashed, though. Does that happen (Janet)? I can see how a particular theme can get worn out like a style but a genre seems nearly impossible. People like what they like.

Colin - thanks for maintaining that list. Very helpful.

BJ - good point. I will keep that in mind.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

(Topical= Good; Word count <3; Frequency <100... or something like that. Only 98 more comments to go...) ;)

Colin, this is why you keep getting banished to Carkoon.

Check out the Treasure Chest.

And this is why you keep getting allowed back on The Reef.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

Co-agents. I've known about co-agenting for foreign rights, but never thought of it for different genres.

I wonder if co-agenting happens more often than we realise. It seems an awful lot of my fellow Woodland Creatures do a bit of genre-bouncing. Goodness knows I did in my apprenticeship and early journeymanhood. But now I'm older and more experienced and have settled in to what I really want to write.

I suspect I'm agent-hunting a bit later in my writing career than most people do.

(Dear future agent,

I really will make you an excellent client. I have experience and methodology. Yes, I can 'just write another novel' and deliver on what I promise in a timely fashion. Also, I have no plans on jumping genres or formats or whatever. I love escapist novels and plan on writing them for the next fifty years.

Her Grace)

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

For those of you who scoff at the advice of of "just write another novel", do you balk because it is hard? Why is it hard? What can you do to make it easier?