I had an agent for (5) years with a well-known NYC agency, and although my initial novel had some interest, it didn’t end up going anywhere. Which is ok . . . it blends genres, and I knew it’d be a hard sell. However, I recently sent my agent another MS, which she’s since declined. Her critique was honest and decent, and she stressed that it was only her opinion and I could feel free to shop it around to see if anyone else might be interested.
So I’m kind of at a crossroads; I knew this new novel would also be difficult (all told in the present tense, doesn’t fit neatly into a genre, unsympathetic protagonist, etc.). But I’m also a firm believer that an author should write the kind of stories he/she wants to read . . . the trick being to pick stories other people want to read also. However, I didn’t expect my biggest critic to be my agent, who wasn’t even interested in a revision (the things that caused her angst being endemic to the story).
The agent liked the writing and some of the elements, but wasn’t digging the main character or how the plot developed. I guess what I’m wondering is: 1) does this happen often, and 2) would it be gauche mentioning the agency in a query letter? Or even sending query letters? I’ve had the first (50) pages workshopped with my book club, and the response was very positive (he said, knowing the next 280+ pages could suck). But agents have to make money, and I don’t know if this is simply a nice way of saying she doesn’t think the MS is up to par. I guess I’m looking for a Diogenes (with a pectoral fin) to light the way . . . if you have any opinions one way or the other, I’d love to hear them.
This is one of the questions you want to ask an agent before you sign on the dotted line: "what if I write something you hate. How do you handle that?"
My job is selling the work my clients write.
There are some exceptions to that: I will not send a book on submission if I find it offensive. That's simply my personal position, and I will tell a client that if needed. I hope we will have determined this BEFORE the book is written, but you never know.
I try not to send out books that I don't think will sell. That said, I've sold some stuff that I thought needed more work.
When I get a project that I'm hesitant about, I talk to my client. Your agent has done that too. She's said "shop around."
You now have two choices: sever, or write something else.
I can't tell you what to write, and I wouldn't presume to tell you your agent is wrong about a novel I've never read.
It's always less terrifying to do nothing, but you can't do that and have a career.
Talk to your agent again. Be ready to listen to what she's telling you. Ask her to be completely straightforward. Does she want you write something new, or is this a sign she doesn't think you're a good match.
Agents need to make sales to stay in business. If she's shopped one novel to no avail, and gotten a second in that she doesn't like at all, be ready to hear that she's not as enthusiastic as you want.
As to your questions: this happens enough that my colleagues and I talk about it pretty often. It's a horrible situation for us, just like it is for you.
You can't query if you have an agent. There are probably some agents out there who will talk to you on the down-low, but it's considered a pretty slimy practice.
I'll talk in general terms to an author who has an agent, but my most frequent advice to them, as it is to you here: talk to your agent directly. Find out what she's thinking. Make your decision based on that information.
PS I'm having "Diogenes (with a pectoral fin)" engraved on my business cards.
I had to look up "Diogenes". That is hilarious! If this guy isn't at least a minor character in a work of comedy, then he needs to be. When I read on the Wiki page that he was a hippie and slept in a ceramic jar in markets, I laughed. It sounded like something Hans Christian Anderson would write.
Opie, what a tough position to be in! I haven't got much advice other than do what Janet says and talk directly to your agent.
Regardless, it would seem that ultimately you have to start again - either with a new agent or a new story. Either one would be a daunting prospect.
Whatever the outcome good luck!
Opie: ouch. What a difficult place to be in.
I like Janet's suggestion to have a straightforward conversation with your agent to see if she wants you to write another story or if she thinks you not a good match anymore. Although that will not be the easiest conversation to have. You've invested so much time and sweat and passion on this novel that she does not want to represent. But, if it's a finished novel, that means you're already working or generating ideas on your next WiP? Right?
This situation happened to me. After we'd sold my first book, I wrote another. My agent didn't care for it. He didn't want to work with me to revise it. He didn't want to sell it. We sold a second book, but I was still stuck on the book I'd written. I felt very, very passionately about it. I asked my agent again if he'd consider submitting it. He declined.
What it boiled down to for me was that I told him the book I'd written was the kind of book I wanted to write more of. It was the direction I saw my career going. He didn't think it was the right direction for me. I disagreed. We parted ways. I found a new agent who was excited about the book and the direction of my career (though, as Janet mentioned, we did have a talk about what would happen if I wrote something she wasn't interested in but about which I was passionate), and we sold that book (The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley).
I think what you need to ask yourself is how important is this book to you? Is it just a one-off? Or is it representative of you as a writer and the direction you want to take your career? If it's the former, then maybe set it aside and talk to your agent. If it's the latter, then your agent is basically telling you she's not interested in the direction you want to take your career, and you should seek an agent who is. You deserve an agent who is enthusiastic about where you're going. But I'd advise making sure you're passionate enough about this book to take a stand on it.
+1 to Shaun's comment. That seems to be the crux for me. If you and your agent still agree on your long term career aspirations, the types of books you want to write and sell, then this may be something you can work out. If not, you're probably better off parting ways and finding a better match.
Full sympathy, OP. This is a horrible situation to be in.
I had a question for the OP (I forget what that acronym means). You said you had an agent 5 years ago + have an agent now, so I'm assuming she's a different agent, who then said, "shop around if you'd like." Was this, a "one book at a time contract," or something you hoped would be a career? I've always shied away from agencies with a "one book" deal. This is one reason why. (So, sorry about this).
Second, the Finned Diogenes wrote: "this happens enough that my colleagues and I talk about it pretty often. It's a horrible situation for us, just like it is for you."
I can imagine. Also, awkward. Bringing me to my next question. I've always thought since the relationship between an agent + writer is symbiotic, how much brainstorming goes on prior to the writing? Say I have 3 equally interesting projects in front of me. Wouldn't it be beneficial to talk about these with your agent upfront to see what she would be most excited about shopping as she's the sales-end of the writing duo? How much of this goes on?
PS - I can see where that would get dicey if said-agent didn't like the projects a writer had in mind. Then the answer gets directed to Shaun Hutchinson's post.
"Shop it around to see if anyone else might be interested" kind of leaves you in limbo land--I agree with Janet, the thing to do is talk to your agent and clear the air. If you leave the conversation uncertain of whether she wants to represent you or not, that's something you have to pin down.
Regarding MB's question: While my agent was shopping my first MS around, I had two projects in very early stages, neither going anywhere. I would kind of dabble in one, then the other. I liked both ideas, but they hadn't 'taken off' yet. We had a nice phone call and I outlined both projects with her, told her where I thought each was going. She suggested one of the projects, based in part on markets, what she thought was better for my style, etc. and we went from there. We've also had another interim conversation about the project and where it's going (I'm still writing; I'm slow). As for how much of it goes on, I think it depends a lot on the writer and the agent.
OP, I think when your agent told you to "...feel free to shop it around to see if anyone else might be interested.” it seems to me it’s her way of telling you, “If you find another agent, it wouldn’t bother me if we part ways.” Like Janet said, "You can't query if you have an agent." so her suggestion says a lot. You need to put all your cards on the table and have a frank discussion so you both know exactly where you stand.
It’s a hard place to be in, but if this is the type of writing you want to do, then all the best in finding a new home for your novel.
MB, OP means Original Poster.
Euripides trousers Eumenides trousers!
My question arises from OP's. If you write in different genres, maybe even under different names, could you have two agents? Agents list the types of books they are interested in, but I wouldn't think that means an author is stuck with only what this agent wants. It would have to be all up front, of course, discussed at the time of contract signing, but I don't think I've ever heard of one writer having more than one agent. Example is the OP that posted recently about moving from erotica to YA. If s/he wanted to do both, wouldn't two agents make sense?
MB, one of the main reasons I need an agent is for advice on which of my myriad story lines I should be focusing. I keep getting what I think are better ideas and off I go, so that in the end nothing is finished.
I would much rather have my agent come out and tell me "I think we need to break up" than to leave me in the "oh god what did she mean by that?" limbo. Because if she couldn't sell your first book and hates the second, it seems clear that you are not as much on the same wavelength that it seemed when she signed you on.
By leaving it up to you to "shop it around" while you are still under contract could open you up to looking like a sleaze, which I don't believe is the case.
I hate the idea of having to start over as well as doing hard stuff. We furry woodland creatures (especially pandas) hate confrontation and hard questions.
Once again, the QOTKU has it right. Maybe this agent does not have the right editorial cotacts in the right places. Who knows. A FWC could go insane figuring out all the posible permutations of why this isn't working.
BTW the conference is going well. My mind is reeling with possiblities and work to be done.
I've been in the OP's shoes in the art world. It's never fun and can lead to depressive tail spins and long sessions watching the pandas on a slide video over and over.
Have some kale and have the conversation.
Amanda, I have read recently of some authors having more than one agent for works in different genres, but wouldn't think it would work if it was for the same genre.
Just re read Shaun H's comment, which sounds like good advice.
Basically, what Shaun said. :)
I was in this very same situation. (including the first book not selling) For me, when my agent opened the door of "if you'd like to shop this elsewhere, I'd understand", it hit upon other notes for me that had me follow my instinct of parting ways. It's painful and difficult to be in the querying stage again, but ultimately, I still think it was the right decision. The experience makes me a smarter agent-seeking querier and a smarter publication-seeking author.
Follow your gut and good luck to you!
In all my woodland naivety, I am surprised that entire books get written without any discussion with an agent. I would have thought there would be some chat about what're you're working on/what ideas you have while the work is in progress. Or do you folks just write super fast!? I get that the finished outcome might not be quite what the agent hoped/expected, but for it to be so drastically unliked must be very disheartening.
As for choosing between writing what you want and writing what other people want - to write anything good it has to come from the heart. There's no point writing anything if you're heart isn't in it. Good luck with your predicament!
“Oh boy” is right. Most of the time, it's really fun making an opposing witness squirm on the stand, but sometimes I dislike being a lawyer because I can cross-examine something to death, especially if I'm scratching my head because I'm soooooo confused.
>>I had an agent for (5) years
Had? You no longer have this agent?
>>However, I recently sent my agent another MS, which she’s since declined.
You mentioned five years. Is this a different agent entirely? If not, did you send your agent novels between these two, and she sold those? Or are these the only two? Several members of my local RWA group are hybrids. Their agents sell some of their books, and they self-publish others [with their agent's agreement]. Would that be an option for you?
>>Her critique was honest and decent, and she stressed that it was only her opinion and I could feel free to shop it around to see if anyone else might be interested.
If these are the only two novels you've presented to her, it does sound like she might not be a good fit. If she's sold others for you, perhaps you can discuss a self-pub option for these cross-genre and/or oddball ones.
>>However, I didn’t expect my biggest critic to be my agent, who wasn’t even interested in a revision (the things that caused her angst being endemic to the story). The agent liked the writing and some of the elements, but wasn’t digging the main character or how the plot developed.
What did she like about your first novel [that also didn't sell]? Has your basic subject changed so much between the first novel and this one? For example, even if BOTH novels were as you described [present tense, multi-genre, unsympathetic protagonist, etc] but the first one was about lady bronc riders and this one is about evil librarians, even Finned-Diogenes would probably tell you to shop it around.
>>I guess what I’m wondering is: 1) does this happen often,
This question was answered. Yay! I'm not quite as confused as I was in the beginning.
>>and 2) would it be gauche mentioning the agency in a query letter?
This question was NOT answered. Boo! Back to being confused. If you decided to part ways with this agent [provided of course that she is still your agent, see my first comment above], would you mention “I was previously represented by AgentA” and if so, would you mention it like I just did, or use some other phrasing? I am personally nowhere near needing an answer to this question, but I'm still curious.
>>Or even sending query letters?
This question was answered. Yay!
I definitely agree to talk to your agent [if she's currently your agent. Presumably you signed with her in the beginning not only because she thought she could sell your book but also because you felt you were able to talk with her. It sounds like a difficult conversation but one you both need to have.
The first thing I thought of was, sometimes authors have two agents for different types of books. (Of course, the first such person who came to mind was our very own Julie, who once had one for children's books and one for a thriller.) So I was wondering at the 'can't query if you have an agent' thing... but then I thought, I don't know if these are different genres. I don't know if these are different categories. Except you've got two books that you don't think fit neatly into a genre.
So if the books aren't different enough to warrant a second agent, then you get to choose between this agent or looking for another.
Before you talk to your agent, as Janet suggested, you might want to ask yourself something:
What are the chances that you will write a book this agent wants to sell? Do you have another book on the backburner that might just be her cup of tea? When you talk to her, ask her what she wants. Then decide if you want to write that. This might help you off the fence one way or the other.
I second Dena and Janet's oh boys. So much crammed into a short letter but still so many holes. It almost sounds like your agent was trying to get the second book of a deal out of you while you and she were growing in opposite directions.
A lot of writers change their agents a time or two. Sometimes it is a move on the ladder to money. Most times it is closer to a divorce because of irreconcilable differences. It might be the thing to do here if your contract is fulfilled. Others who have been there have remarked. Read those comments carefully.
You agent doesn't like your unsympathetic protagonist. Does that mean the agents are moving away from the Gone Girl model? If they are I applaud it. It has been going on for too long.
Get yourself clear of your legal entanglements, go out and grow as a writer.
I almost mentioned this yesterday in things to ask your prospective agent. As I've mentioned before, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, my former agents, loved the historical about the cattle baron and his wife, but were lukewarm about the suspense.
It's really a good idea to ask upfront, "What if you like one of my books, but not something else and what if I write something in a genre you don't rep?"
There are a lot of agents who will hop all over a good historical, but don't want fantasies, but I write both. Farther down the road, if Far Rider sells, there's a steam punky race of people. What if they hate steam punk? Previously, I had two agents, one for the adult fiction and one for my children's fiction, as I've said before. That might be a solution for the original poster, but as Janet said, a lot of agents won't talk to you while you're repped.
It's a riddle whose only answer is good communication.
I think it's time the author has "the talk" with the agent to see if they are still right for each other.
Craig: 'unsympathetic protagonists' have been around since long before Gone Girl. They started being trendy about the turn of the century, I think, if I can remember clearly enough from that long ago. Heck, Shakespeare used unsympathetic protags. How sympathetic is a general who kills his own king out of ambition, then falls apart when dealing with the backlash? Yet it's a popular and even spellbinding play.
The problem with unsympathetic protags is that you still have to get the reader to want to spend time in that protag's life. This can be uncomfortable or even excruciating. The harder it is to like an unsympathetic protag, the less likely there will be a lot of readers. So an unsympathetic protag is a risk.
For someone who mentioned it: OP means 'original poster'. There is a link to a glossary of such terms on the top right corner of Janet's blog.
I'm doubling down on what Laura Mary said. Frankly, I can't imagine signing with an agent without the agent having asked me what's on deck, and when do you plan to be ready with the next one. (Maybe she needs a list from Janet of questions to ask potential clients.) Also, 5 years seems like a long time between books for an author and an agents preferences to evolve.
This kind of/sort of happened to me too.
I wrote my first book. It went out on submission. In the meantime to quell my woodland creature/hamster wheel of worrying, I wrote a second book. I never discussed this book with my agent. I just wrote like a fiend b/c I recollect thinking - Good Lord, can I actually do this again?
Through an interesting twist of fate which I won't go into detail about here, the second ms got the attention of a London agency. (Bonomi & Associates) There was some activity regarding a possible transatlantic sale IF a U.S. publisher picked it up.
In a discussion with my agent, in which I found out he "liked" it, but he didn't love it like my first ms, he gave me three options:
1) Go on sub with second book under a pseudonym
2) Write another book
3) Go with a different agent***
He allowed me to choose whichever I wanted. I decided to write the third book.
***The good news regarding this - because it IS hard to hear - he said, "This isn't what I want, but I have to give you the option."
Which I thought was very generous.
So, like some others have said, I'd think I'd want clarification about that "shop around to see if there's interest," part of the conversation. That's b/c contracts which are perpetual until one party or the other decides it's time for a change means a given length of time must pass before you can do that "shopping around."
The unlikeable character thing - made me think of Holden Caufield. You don't like him, but b/c he makes you laugh - well, he made me laugh anyway - you want to keep on reading.
Unlikeable characters have been around a long time.
And then there was this recently, which I thought was interesting:
Likable and unlikable characters in fiction
Dena, to answer your question about mentioning the agency in a query, I think Janet has addressed this before in that it isn't something to put in the query, but it is something to mention in a conversation with a prospective agent.
Also, in my situation, my agent and I had discussed my next book before I finished it, so I imagine the OP might have done the same.
For me, the opt-out opening felt like a pretty big sign. Would it have changed things if we'd been able to sell my first book? Maybe, but ultimately, I think we were also not the best match - her thoughts on my manuscript was only one part of the Big Picture. I like and respect my former agent, but sometimes the mutual respect is not enough to maintain this kind of relationship, which to me feels like 80% business, and 20% personal.
And of course, OP's question is only part of the story, which is why Janet's advice about having a conversation is always solid.
B.J.: Didn't mean that Gone Girl was the first but it opened a cycle or phase of publishing. After the success of it everyone seemed to be looking for the next one of that model. Most of the books that followed were not as well done as Gone Girl.
Lots of good comments today: Dena's lawyerly cross-ex of Opie, advice from experience from Shawn, Julie, and Donna. I don't have anything to offer by way of advice because a) I've never been in this situation, and b) I'm not an agent. However, as a pre-published writer who has hit the query trenches a few times, this post reminds me that getting an agent is by no means the end of the publishing road, nor is it even the first big step on the road to being published. It is A step. It's important if you want to be published in the traditional fashion, but even then, there's more to the story after you've signed with an agent.
Taking yesterday's and today's posts together, it sounds to me a wise step would be to have TWO initial conversations with an agent. The first being "The Call" where you get all giddy, forget human language, and bask in the glow of being ACCEPTED at last. At the end of that call, we should schedule a second conversation a few days later. This gives us time to process the news, and think about what it would mean to sign with this agent. Questions. What ifs. All those things Janet said we need to do that we've forgotten and now need to scour the blog archives to find. Then, on that second call, with a clearer head and more control over verbs and nouns, we talk turkey with the agent (or Tofurkey in my case).
A couple of commenters raised the possibility of a second agent for the book the first agent didn't like. While I'm aware of other writers who have had a different agent for certain books, I'm pretty sure none of those writers had to get a second agent because their primary agent hated the book. It seems to me it's usually because their primary agent LOVED the book, but was not the best qualified to sell that book to publishers (it's a genre they don't know well, for example). Sean Ferrell's I DON'T LIKE KOALA springs to mind. Sean is a client of the Finned Diogenes, but she doesn't rep picture books. She loved the book, however.
As I said, I have no experience from which to advise Opie. But I think some good advice has already been given. All the best to you! :)
Sorry Shaun--I gave you a W instead of a U. :)
Craig: Unlikeable male characters were the vogue years ago, which is where I was coming from. It did come to the point where people were writing unsympathetic male protagonists because 'they were more interesting' instead of trying to make any protagonist interesting on their own.
Now I've read Donna's article. I hadn't realized the 'unlikable protag' had become the only 'serious' protag. I have so many problems with any idea that extreme. That's the sort of thinking that stifles creativity.
*Goes back to writing commercial fiction, which seems to allow far more freedom.*
Thx for yperlinking BJ!
Where's my h? I'm doing it again!
Oh, boy, indeed. I've been thinking about OP all morning and wishing him/her the best possible outcome to that conversation with the agent. As someone with only a smidgen of confidence, I would probably move on to another project.
That's okay, Donna. I like yperlinking. It sounds way cool. :)
Haha, BJ - it's what Little Dog is - yper! (yipper!)
Okay. Now my little dog has a new name. Poor Yper Little Dog... :)
Squeee. Donnaeve, leave that angry feminist links at home. That is going to ruin the Dino porn market. No more sweet stegosaurus love. It is all going to have to Dino revenge porn or Dino mercy porn.
"Ask her to be completely straightforward. Does she want you write something new, or is this a sign she doesn't think you're a good match." Great advice as usual from JR!
As much as its difficult mentally, requesting a honest answer is what I would seek too, OPIE. Any business relationship has to have a certain level of trust. I can understand how uncomfortable it is to ask if someone still supports your writing, but for everyone's mental sake, it needs to be asked. By now I bet everyone concerned has a life stock in Tums, the antacid. I know I would...
Anyway, it looks like everyone here has excellent advice as usual. Im going outside after writing on a WIP all morning long. I need to pull T-posts and move them for temporary fencing for the horses, while Im home out of the woods. Im sick and tired of their nose smudgeprints all over my windows and doors, and the gifts they "drop" on the lawn. It needs to stop, and alas Im the only one who can stop them!
*feigns hand to forehead, then slips on her boots & gloves*
Also fgorgot to add -
Colin - "Taking yesterday's and today's posts together, it sounds to me a wise step would be to have TWO initial conversations with an agent. The first being "The Call" where you get all giddy, forget human language, and bask in the glow of being ACCEPTED at last. At the end of that call, we should schedule a second conversation a few days later. This gives us time to process the news, and think about what it would mean to sign with this agent. Questions. What ifs. All those things Janet said we need to do that we've forgotten and now need to scour the blog archives to find. Then, on that second call, with a clearer head and more control over verbs and nouns, we talk turkey with the agent (or Tofurkey in my case)."
Yes and yes. I hope this applies to the Publishing world! We do this quite a bit in our Consulting Forestry outfit. During the first initial contact, we give our potential clients A LOT of information; we encourage them to contact us and to ask as many questions as they need answered about the process...
When people can make an educated decision, there are virtually no issues during the year contract we hold with them. I think it is wise to be able to contact any entity to ask questions again, because that first conversation usually is filled with too much information to process at once, and can bring up new questions. At the end of the day, its still a business contract, and the more everyone understands, the better it works out for all parties involved.
" Im sick and tired of their nose smudgeprints all over my windows and doors, and the gifts they "drop" on the lawn. It needs to stop, and alas Im the only one who can stop them!"
At least they aren't trying to come in the house. It was always an adventure to hear something banging on the screen door followed by, "JULIA! Come get your horse, he's trying to come in the house again." Cowboy had a very good internal clock. He knew exactly how long he thought it should take me to use the bathroom, wash, and eat. Anything longer than that and I had obviously been kidnapped and needed rescuing.
This is a situation where clarity is your friend. Talk to your agent and decide whether you two are breaking up. If you are, then take a look at your representation agreement and see if there is anything you're required to do (send written notification, etc.) When that's done, then look for a new agent. In that order.
Being agentless after so long might seem scary, but you need someone who loves what you write. If you and Original Agent can work things out - great. If not, rip off the Band-aid and move on.
Yesterday's post had me gasping in envy with the first sentence. Today's has me moaning in sympathy. The cat is becoming concerned about my blog reading habits.
There's some great advice here, from Janet and in the comments, about the business aspects of all this. I want to address the creative aspect of it-- it's hard enough to write something when you have someone who is eager to see it and who loves your writing. There's a lot of pressure to live up to that expectation. But holy guacamole, I can't even imagine trying to write something when you know (or strongly suspect) that the person you're going to send it to will hate it or that it will "cause her angst." What is this doing to your creativity and productivity? To your confidence? I would think that should be your primary concern here.
I've heard many writers say it's better to have no agent than a bad agent. I'm not saying this agent is a "bad" one, but it sure sounds like she might be a bad fit for you. Talk to her and figure that out, from a business perspective of selling your work but also from the perspective of what effect this relationship is having on your writing. That's not something to mess around with.
Best wishes as you figure what's best for you.
Y'all are depressing me.
Shopping your goods somewhere else makes sense. Not everyone gets turned on by what you think is brilliant. Sometimes new pportunity is just so damn disappointing.
pportunity without an o, now that's new.
'Pportunity' = a doorway to success
2N's you've caught my illness. (see previous post - yesterday?) where I consistently dropped letters, and it carries on today.
Craig - I wouldn't call it feminist...maybe equal opportunity offenders?
I am printing out yesterday's post hoping to guard against today's post. I always tend to err on the side of more communication than less. Talk to current agent and prepare to move forward. I wish OP luck.
Donna, I thought I was channeling you.
BJ, Doorway to success, love it.
Such great answers! And I agree--pportunity should totally be a word.
Diogenes helped me, actually. *feverishly jots down book ideas*
When I was doing race stories, there were untold times a horse would be just mediocre until the owner changed trainers. I'd ask the new trainer who was now taking the horse to the winner's circle what he was doing different. Most of the time, he was watching the horse and finding his strengths, looking for what he liked. Even animals do better when they're doing what they love doing and have a natural talent for.
If we as writers are very blessed, we'll find our own champion trainers who recognize our strengths and what we love. What happens when our "trainer" tells us something we don't want to hear?
One thing the original poster should do after the "talk" is take some time. Every decision worth making is worth taking time to think about.
Pardon, but shouldn't it be "dorsal fin"?
Oh goodness, even though I'm unagented, I can imagine that stomach pit sinking which would come when the second book was not loved. I'm not surprised it happens fairly regularly. Even if I LOVE an author, I don't love all that author's books. Indeed, sometimes I fall off the wagon with their later work.
This isn't OP's related problem, but what if the second book is a Second Book? I feel like I would be devastated if I wrote a trilogy, say, and the Powers That Be were like "Nah, rewrite the second book." I'm sure this also happens fairly regularly, and people manage, but especially if I've written book 3 already as well, say, I feel as though Book 2's events are already What Really Happened™ in my brain.
You can try to shop the book around, but back to the drawing board may be the best option. While a writer needs to write what they know and what inspires them, part of our job is to write something an agent can successfully sell.
If you don't write a book that is marketable, then you have a book with no market.
This is the reality of our profession.
Original post-guy here. My apologies to everybody for the late response (was unconnected for a few days). Thanks for all the fantastic advice and concern . . . this was just one of those things you don't expect to happen until it does. But there's definitely some direction now.
And of course, a huge flipper wave to the indomitable Ms. Reid. Once again, you've demonstrated why this site is so valuable, in so many ways. May your seas be absent of jellyfish, and filled with seal pups and overweight vacationers. :)
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