Tuesday, May 05, 2020

update on The New Reality

I love your blog and have turned to it many times throughout my querying process. I have had an agent for close to a year now, but I have never felt like it was a perfect fit. Currently, I don't think she is in the process of submitting my book anywhere because she says publishing is slowing down due to Covid. Is this a reasonable way for her to be responding to the pandemic - not submitting anywhere? I am so aware that everyone's lives are in limbo (or worse) right now, and have had a very rough quarentine season, so I don't lack empathy or patience. I just want to make sure that her actions (pulling my novel from submission for the foreseeable future, ostensibly due solely to Covid) make sense and aren't a cause for my concern regarding her abilities/desire to sell my novel.

I don't want to second guess another agent's strategy for dealing with a situation that has no precedent.

And the problem isn't how she's dealing, it's that you don't have confidence in her choices.

A couple things to consider: this is YOUR book, and withdrawing it from submission is something you should have a say in.

I have clients both past and present who've wanted to do things I advised against. I made my case, they stood their ground, in the end, I did what they wanted. That's my job.

The caveat there of course is that if they want to ignore my advice a lot, it's time to part ways because the reason you have an agent is so you can rely on their advice and expertise.

It's time to have a conversation with Agent. Withdrawing things from submission is a different kettle of sharks than not sending work out.

Remember, she may be utterly overwhelmed. If she's got small children at home, in a small NYC apartment, you may not have any idea of how fraught her life is right now.

And that's something to think about for a couple more weeks, but NOT forever.

One of the big tasks right now is figuring out how to get back to work in these new and trying circumstances. We're on isolation till the end of May, if not longer. We can't push the pause button forever.

TALK to your agent.
Get a sense of where she is.
Then sit back and think a while.


Kitty said...

QUESTION: Is the pub business doing much of anything right now? Or are they in limbo with the rest of us?

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I am curious about the state of publishing like Kitty. It seems, at least for me, the longer the isolation goes on, the harder it gets. My state is opening up bit by bit but in New York, that is probably a while off.

nightsmusic said...

My red flag, OP, is that you say it has never felt like a good fit. Did it feel that way before you signed your contract? Or were you so excited to 'get' an agent that you signed simply because she had offered representation? Do you have an open line of communication with her? You need to be able to discuss things with her. Openly and maybe brutally, but her job is to represent you and if you can't be honest with her about what you're concerns are, and she in turn can't be honest with you as far as what's going on, then yes, this isn't a good fit and you need to reassess whether she should be your agent. I just get the impression from your questions that this is the bigger issue. Not that your book isn't being submitted right now, but that you can't seem to ask for an honest answer as to why.

Craig F said...

The tape holding the pause button down is starting to let loose.

One thing that I do know is that Scalzi released a book two weeks ago and it went to #5 on several bestseller lists. That means that people are still ordering and reading books, I know that I am. Agents and publishers have probably also figured it our.

It is definitely time to chat with your agent, if he/she/it is totally overwhelmed you will have to decide how to proceed. I am not sure if an agent not being a good fit means anything, I know of no agents in my tribe, so it will have to be how they fit as a business partner, not an emotional partner.

The world is still out there and there are doors to knock down, we all just have to find the right door.

John Davis Frain said...

I can't imagine your rationale for parting ways with an agent in this environment. I haven't stepped foot inside a grocery store for a month, but I assume they'll let me in next month or whenever this madness ends. Because even without knowing the details of my life, they'll understand why I haven't been around.

I know it's not the same situation. It just feels like the same level of absurdity.

Work on your next one. You'll be laughing about this a year from now.

Anonymous said...

Books are still selling and agents are still signing new clients, from everything I'm hearing. But editors are also being furloughed. If the book was taken off submission because all of the editors had been let go, the agent may have a point that it's better to wait. Like Janet and others have said, it's time to have a talk and find out exactly what's going on. Good luck!

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

If I had an agent and they said "I don't think we'll be submitted the novel right now", I would ask them "Okay, what's the game plan?" Because...correct me if I'm wrong, but agents WANT your novels to sell! Perhaps need your novels to sell? Need their clients' works to sell? (you get what I mean)

If your agent isn't doing that, is it indefinitely? Do they have a restart date in mind? Do they have other things they think you should be doing? Talk to your agent!

non-blog-related, today is Ulrike's second birthday! We just got back from a walk and I tortured her with a very brief photoshoot. I think I got two hat pictures, I'm not sure yet. My phone died, so I"m waiting for the recharge.

Peter Taylor said...

There are many deals being done, a number of publishing houses working as close to normal as possible...but I've also had private email correspondence with an art director from a large non-fiction publisher outside the US. She tells me the business she works for is now 'fozen'. So if the agent has insider information about the publishers to which she intends submitting, her reluctance may be well-founded. Not all publishers are working to the same degree. I'm sure there are editors struggling to work from home with kids around...

Your agent should be able to discuss the submission strategy with you.

Katja said...

Casual-T, I rather let you know here than on that other post (because Janet would have to approve again - don't wanna annoy her THAT much ;) ) that your score is A+.

But... I am only medium super-mega-wowed, because you said it was easy. Maybe it's because Bavaria borders Austria (not quite Vienna though), and languages don't always stop at man-made borders. So, maybe you say der Schmalz somewhere in Austria, too. And der Butter, instead of die Butter. And der Radio, instead of das Radio.

Someone once complained to me about German. He said: "In English, it's just THE f*cking pub." ;) ;) ;)

Casual-T said...

In regards to the publishing business, like most other forms of industry, grinding to a halt during this COVID crisis, I doubt we, as a species, will be able to hide in our homes much longer. I have been without a gig for over two months, and if I don’t start working again soon (and it doesn’t look like I will), the economic effects of the shutdown might be just as, if not even more devastating than any potential health risk.

@Katja... Medium super-mega-wowed is good enough for me! Articles in German are such a weird construct, and seem to be arbitrarily assigned. What good reason could there possibly be for a pair of pants to be feminine (die Hose), lipstick masculine (der Lippenstift), and a pasta strainer neuter (das Nudelsieb)? I doubt I’d ever be able to fully wrap my brain around the concept, if I weren’t a native speaker.

And here’s an amusing little tidbit. Do you remember that old German Sesame Street theme song which starts “Der, die, das, wer, wie, was, wieso, weshalb, warum...”? In English it would simply be “The, the, the, who, how, what, why, why, why...” :D

Katja said...

Casual-T, of COURSE I remember that old German Sesame Street - watched it every night as a kid. Know EXACTLY what theme song you're talking about!

I agree, German is one of the most difficult languages around, and I DO NOT want to have to learn it! The 4 cases are just another example:
1) Nominative: My friend says - Mein(!) Freund sagt
2) Genitive: The shoes of my friend - Die Schuhe meines(!) Freundes(!)
3) Dative: I have told my friend - Ich habe meinem(!) Freund gesagt
4) Accusative: I have seen my friend - Ich habe meinen(!) Freund gesehen

Every time we have "my" in English, you've got something different in German. I ONCE tried to explain Fiance, when he was confused as he thought he'd had "meinem" correct and was super happy, that he needed the 4th case. I'm never going to try again. Not because of HIM, but because it's so freaking difficult for myself to explain.

BUT: English has its difficulties as well. Not the grammar! It's the AMOUNT of words that mean the same thing so often. I keep reading articles on the BBC... and I'm like "WHAT, ANOTHER word I don't know?" Often I don't need to know exactly what they mean, or guess them from the context. But sometimes I have to look them up to avoid complete misunderstanding.

The other thing that is difficult in English is that things are irregular. Quite a bit. So, why is it bookmark and bookends, but it's book launch and book signing? Knowing this is hard for me. Without auto-correct, I'd make more mistakes than I make anyway.
Or imagine how I first pronounced the word "indictment", for example! The Germanic/Latin way!

Your English seems flawless, by the way. When and how and where did you start or learn speaking it? In the US?