I have been querying YA agents, ten at a time. Revise, edit, revise, repeat. In the last batch of ten I straight away got a full requests from YA Agent 1. Bingo, right?But…
I waited and waited, and took a hiatus on sending out queries to concentrate on my wip. Three months later I nudged Agent 1 and got an apology email (it got lost, the dog ate it, the blasted spam filter…), requesting I resend and she’d get right on it. So I did.
Then, feeling frustrated and on a bit of a whim, I sent a query to a (non-YA) big name Agent 2 known for representing literary fiction. In sixty minutes flat I got “your pages really caught my attention, please send the full, even though my reading list is very full.” Holy crap!Then, next day, in rolls another full request from YA Agent 3, from the batch of queries sent three months before. When it rains it pours. But it gets worse, or at least more confusing.
Two months later Agent 1 emails back, I loved the story, and read it several times. Please revise and resubmit. It’s too literary. We want it to sell well as commercial, not just win literary awards. Not much other guidance. Things started looking a little fuzzy.
Here’s what my brain wanted to say: What literary awards? What manuscript are you talking about? Is my story literary fiction? Seriously? Is that why Agent 2 is interested and why so many YA agents haven’t been? And what the heck!? Aren’t we supposed to want to win literary awards, even if we never aspired to that and think the idea a little ludicrous? And where do Agents 2 and 3 stand on all this?
Here’s what I actually emailed back: Roger that, I’ll revise and resubmit.
So now I’m in a real conundrum. Will revising the manuscript to make it more “commercial fiction like,” and less “literary fiction like,” make the manuscript less attractive to big name non-YA Agent 2? If Agent 2 likes my writing because of it’s “literary fiction” aspects, will revising to make it more “commercial fiction like” make the manuscript less attractive? Would Agent 2 be problematic since she represents literary fiction, not YA?
I’ve been diligently rereading and editing, trying REAL hard to make improvements without messing things up. Time has actually made a difference and I really like many of my edits, but most of them are subtle. I’m also playing a waiting game. Maybe big-name Agent 2 will get back to me soon (even though she said her reading list was very full) with more specific ideas for revision and I’ll have a better idea of where to take the book. But I’m about out of runway. My edits are essentially done.
Seems like I have a lot of alternatives.
1. My gut (going with honesty is the best policy) says send the revision back to YA Agent 1 and nudge Agent 2 and 3 letting them know I am sending in my R&R.
2. I could send in my R&R to Agent 1 and hold my cards on Agents 2 and 3, with a gentle nudge to Agent 2 because it’s now been three months.
3. I could continue to drag it out hoping for a response from Agent 2 without loosing the interest of Agent 1.
4. I could crawl back into my woodland nut hole and keep going with my wip, which is decidedly commercial YA. (At least I think it is. Oh no, what if I’m wrong there too?)
Apropos any of those options, I suppose I could also recast my query and send it to agents specifically looking for literary fiction. Sigh.
Any advice for your devoted blog follower and befuddled woodland creature?
An agent sent you an email that said "revise and resubmit" and didn't give you any guidance on specifically what s/he had in mind?
Oh man, I need to remember that. Talk about a fast way to REALLY make writers crazy!! This is even better than "I'll reply soonishly" which I use now to torment all my clients and few queriers with requested fulls as well.
One of the things that would really help you is to get both projects (finished and WIP) in front of an agent who works in this category. That means a writing conference or a consultation (you can often buy these at charity auctions.) Get some feedback from someone who's seen both projects.
Right now you don't have enough information from any of these tormentors to actually act on. Thus:
1. Keep querying
2. Keep nudging
3. Keep writing
It sounds like you've got the writing chops to snag an agent's interest. Now, you just need some actual guidance from someone who says "I love this, now let's change it."