Monday, April 28, 2008

Hey Agent.....____ Or Get Off the Pot

Hey guys! Last day to enter into the I Spy contest! If you spotted the book anywhere over the weekend or online or wherever, post below to enter...

Question of the week: I had been working with an agent on a book proposal for awhile and it eventually fell through (due to lack of publisher interest). I am developing a second book idea, which I really like, but sent the proposal to her about a month ago and despite repeated follow ups have yet to hear back from her, either by email or phone. Does that mean she is just not interested and I should move on? What should I do?

Ah, that good old agent radio silence. What writer doesn't love that? (And chew his or her fingersnails down to the cuticle in the process of waiting?) For the record, I know of what you speak - not with my current agent, who is so fabu that she'd never dream of waiting more than a day or so to get back to me, which, incidentally, is one of the reasons I went with her - but with my agent before said fabu agent. Her seeming inability to return a phone call or an email was completely maddening, and ultimately led to the conversation in which we parted ways.

But, I've digressed. Enough empathizing from me, more advice, right?

Here's what I'd say to your specific situation. While a month in writer time is forever, a month in agent time really isn't that long. I'd give her two or so more weeks to get back to you. If you still haven't heard even a peep in your direction, I think that you are well within your rights to send her a very nice note (or give her a call, but it doesn't sound like she's easily reachable) flatly asking if she's still interested in this project and/or representing you.

In my case, with agent #1, who, like your agent, tried but failed to sell my first book, she was hemming and hawing and not responding to me because she had lost faith in me as a client. (I should note here that when I say "failed," I certainly don't blame her - I'm just using that word in the most literal of ways: she didn't sell the book. Turns out, in hindsight, that book was crap.) My agent was dodging me like we've all dodged romantic partners about whom we no longer felt romantic, but didn't know how to pull the ripcord. I have NO idea if your agent is over you, or if she's merely so busy that she can't respond to you, but either way, I think you deserve better. Maybe it's simply better communication with you or maybe it's that you need to find a better agent to suit your needs, one who still fully believes in your capabilities. I really don't know. And it sounds like you don't either. So until you have a discussion with her - awkward as it may be - you can't move on.

I've long said on this blog that agents need to be your advocates. You simply can't feel like the one person who is always supposed to have your back...doesn't. Much less doesn't even return your phone calls. In this case, it might simply be that you need to clarify with your agent what your needs are: that, if you're going to work together, that you'd like her to return your emails, and in turn, she might say, "no problem, but know that it takes me two months to read a proposal and respond." That's communication, and as long as both parties are cool with what they're hearing, you're good to move forward. But she also might say - and you need to be prepared for this - that she's NOT jazzed about this idea or whatnot.

And if she does, it's okay. You can and will recover. Really. Look at me. I did. I'm thrilled that my agent and I mutually agreed to ditch each other. It was seriously the best thing that happened to my career. Truly. Find an agent who always has your best interest in mind, and you'll already be better off than where your are now. Even if it sucks in the meantime.


Readers out there, ever been in this position or have any advice? Chime in!

4 comments:

Jewels said...

Hello,
I wasn't able to make it to a bookstore this week, but I did find copies of your book in 5 different library systems in my area.

Trish Ryan said...

I don't remember where the cord is to download pics from my camera...but I have proof that your book is getting star treatment not only in the Detroit Airport, but also in the Borders in the Cambridgeside Galleria here in my fine city :)

Mary Q said...

I spotted your book in a FAIRLY obvious place in our Borders yesterday. I saw it, broke into a huge grin, and said, "Ooohhhh," loud enough to make my husband, who was browsing several feet away, ask what I'd found. Nice moment! (And very nice memories of having read it last year!) --Mary Q.

Jewels said...

Saw your book just as I walked into Borders today. Sorry no pictures, my camera is currently out of commission.