You get an offer of representation.
You've been in the revision, and development, and crushed hope trenches for so long you can scarcely believe you've now got a ladder out.
You email all the agents looking at your work.
You let them know you've got an offer.
And you dig out the list of questions to ask.
And you ask.
And your heart sinks.
There are some other red flags.
Not huge red flags like reading fees, or schmagenty credentials.
She's real, she's legit.
She's just not Right.
So you take a breath.
And you say no.
And you email the agents with your manuscript and let them know that you've turned down the offer.
Not a lot of people will understand what it took to say no.
I could feel my heart start to race as I read this. It's something we all fear and yes, we get it.
This would be so hard. But I think it might be worse to have the wrong agent than no agent. However, before sending out that email to the other agents looking at your full, would you not have already asked those questions and then ask for the couple of weeks to alert the other agents if you still want to go forward?
And then you email Janet.
As busy as she is she understands the tears and disappointment she senses from your brave words. You tell her cubes a clinking in the glass. She understands.
And ..."we do" too.
The bravest do go on, because to do that proves they're not quitters. Never could be, never will be.
Like Kitty my heart beat a little quicker.
Good pacing on this post!
I might be reading this all wrong . . . but it sounds like you offered representation and someone said no. To you.
Janet, you've always earned high marks for grace and empathy toward writers, but this post just blew all that right out of the water. With eloquence and style.
And kudos to that writer for trusting their gut and being rather astonishingly brave.
Taking a ladder out of the trench means going-over-the-top to rush toward a Maxim machine-gun.
This business is certainly not for the faint of heart. In my view, hiring the wrong agent is just another in a long list of ways to torpedo your career.
- Politicized or offensive social media.
- Impatience, which encompasses everything from self-publishing before you are ready to nudging an agent too often.
- Expecting that you won’t need to market your book.
- Refusing to revise your masterpiece.
- A cavalier attitude towards craftsmanship or learning the business.
There are probably many more on this list that I haven’t figured out yet. Thank you Janet for giving us a peek into the industry.
I love this today. I've watched so many friends feel they've "lost" years with agents who weren't what they expected, even AFTER clicking on that important phone call. It must be sooooo hard to turn down an offer, but better that than to have the frustration of being with the wrong match. I admire the person who values their work enough to wait patiently.
Yep, I had to do this a few years ago. It wasn't the right offer for me. But when no other takers came along for that MS I thought I'd blown my chance. But I didn't. It was just the wrong agent and the wrong MS. I wrote something new and now I have a new agent offer that feels right. :)
Love this post, and it's a great little passage for us first timers to keep within our reach. Thanks!
There are a lot of things I would have asked in the beginning if I had thought about it. You have to know your style and if you need more communication, for example. You just get so darn excited that somebody wants you. Come to think of it, I made that mistake in my first marriage.
What E.M. Goldsmith said. I would have thought you'd solidify your choice (following those hard-to-ask questions) AND THEN alert other folks holding your full that they have 10 days/2 weeks/1 week to get back to you.
And even after all that, this Be Brave sounds like you're teetering on the edge of Be Irrational because how does one know? Surely an agent knows the right answers to provide to your questions. Is there a deal-breaker hidden among the questions? I can come up with some scenarios, of course, but they seem over the top to me.
To the wind with all that wondering. I have a penultimate scene to rewrite, and I know how to navigate that path, even when I get lost (which I hope to do).
Yes, we do.
Just wondering, if a writer alerts agents that they have received an offer of representation... and then comes back saying they rejected the offer - does that look bad to all the other agents?
You've said in the past that parting ways with an agent garners a writer a bit of suspicion when querying again - like they might be too difficult to work with. Would that play a part in this scenario as well, but maybe on a smaller scale?
This happened to me. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. But it was the right thing.
Do you want me,
Do you need me,
Do you love me?
Um, two out of three ain't bad.
It would be hard to resist someone who professes love of what you do. I too think it would be hard.
Harder still will be trying to not bitch when I have found a fairly non-communicative agent who hasn't yet been able to sell the book s/he/it professed love to.
Those of you who have snagged agents please don't get despondent or go postal. Most agents do try hard to sell your stuff. It must be like querying over and over again. Dante's fourth level, for me.
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