A funny thing happened on the way home from the edit.
I have novel that I swear is the best novel I can make it without another set of eyes. And I swear I’m not a completely terrible writer, despite my use of the preceding adverb. Except for commas. I suck at commas.
So, with a year of querying behind me (part of the 100 club), those last ten fulls out there, and me ready to move on to a new project, I decided to find an editor, because I didn’t get it—everyone who read the book liked it and many agents who did request and said no wanted to see everything I wrote next, so I figured there had to be something wrong with THIS book.
I went on Reedsy and found a former acquisitions editor for one of the Big 5 imprints now freelancing. Good, someone who could tell me what was wrong. He had some good ideas that we discussed, and he was excited for me to query this book until I told him I was pretty much queried out.
Maybe I had a terrible query. Maybe it was the 1st person thing. I also made edits whenever I got useful feedback, so maybe that was part of it too. Who knows? But when I told him this—that my point in hiring him was to learn from this book if I could and to grow as a writer, his response was that the things to fix were minor, and that he still had friends at the Big 5 and would be happy to send them my work as a referral.
I checked and his background is legitimate. He also did not ask for anything, money or otherwise. I have another WIP, but it’s 4-6 months away from querying.
(1) Should I consider accepting this referral?
(2) Do agents know something he doesn’t?
(3) Am I disadvantaging myself?
(4) If someone offers, should I try to get an agent?
I know agents know many things I don’t with regards to contracts etc., but what’s the procedure for trying to find an agent after a publisher offers if you answer yes to questions 1&4 and lightning strikes (or I get bitten by a shark of the publishing variety)?
I am happy I do math for a living. Publishing is crazy. :)
(1) Sure, why not. No one will die if you do.**
You didn't ask him the defining question: if he'd gotten this ms while he was an aquiring editor, would he/could he have bought it? The god's honest truth is a lot of good work doesn't get published. That happens for a lot of reasons, none of which you have control over.
And that's what agents know that editors don't. We see many more manuscripts than editors do. I can hear my editor friends screaming disbelief, while pointing at their overflowing inboxes. As proof let me tell you that an editor recently mentioned she had 30 manuscripts in her inbox from agents. I have triple that in queries on a weekly basis.
And if he sends the ms to friends at publishers, remember, that means the ms has been submitted. If they say no, that's a no for the imprint, if not the entire publisher. Since you're at the END of your querying process for this book, the risk is low. If you were just at the start of the querying process, I would throw myself in front of your keyboard to prevent you from doing that. (notice the *** after questions 1 and 3. That means this answer is NOT one-size-fits-all.)
And if an offer results from this, email the agents who read your full with this subject line: OFFER from PUBLISHER on TITLE.
If you don't get any bites, let me know and I'll help you find a publishing contract specialist who (for an hourly fee) will review your contract and keep you out of hot water.
Yes, publishing is crazy.
And the people who work in it, including writers, are crazy too.
You have to be; it's an actual job requirement.