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Neither Easy Come Nor Easy Go:  My Agent Saga

As any writer knows, querying your book and trying to find an agent is complicated and heartbreaking. I really loved my first book, LOVE LETTERS. As someone who reads semi-constantly, I firmly believed in the story and my ability to get it published.

But then I started submitting it to agents.

Everyone tells you how painfully slow the publishing world is. So, as I submitted my book, I was mainly met with complete silence. This would be punctuated by the occasional request for the full manuscript (resulting in over-the-moon joy) or a rejection (causing heartbreak and extreme self-doubt). This went on so long that I gave up and started self-publishing (but not LOVE LETTERS; I was holding out hope for it).

Then, many months after I had given up on landing an agent and settled comfortably into the self-publishing world, I received a request to represent me from a real, live agent. And I was thrilled.

We signed a contract, and she represented me for nine months. But the experience wasn´t quite what I expected. 

I hadn´t had an agent before, but shouldn´t we be going over my book?  Editing it and polishing it up so she could find it a home?  I would ask her if she wanted me to make it longer (it was currently more novella length than novel) or if there were things I should change and she either wouldn´t reply or would say it was fine as is.  I didn´t want to bother her, so I tried only to contact her every six weeks or so, and she never had anything to report.  I couldn´t even get a straight answer from her about who she was submitting it to, what feedback she was receiving, etc.

Finally, after nine months, I wrote her a long email explaining my concerns about her agenting and wanting to get a clearer idea of her plan for my book. And I received…no response. After a few more weeks, I wrote her and gave her the required 30 days' notice that I wanted to end my contract with her, and again…no response.

I was finally forced to contact the agency at their main email address to let them know what was going on.  The head agent finally responded, freeing me from my contract and telling me that my agent “was having some personal issues and had decided to take a step back” without telling me, apparently.

So, for what felt like the millionth time, I did another rewrite of LOVE LETTERS and got it up to the expected number of words. I felt like it was the strongest it had ever been and that two years into writing, I was at a much better place to be querying. I just knew that everyone would love this book as much as I did, and soon, there would be agents fighting to have me as a client.

The reality?  Not exactly what happened.  Suffice it to say that the process has taken the wind out of my oddly confident sails.  I have sent out a lot of queries over the last month and so far have received either silence or rejections. 

So, what is the takeaway from my story?  Looking back, I guess I should have asked more questions before signing a contract.  It was a very new agency that did not have a large number of book deals, and my agent was brand new.  But the flip side of that is that it could have turned out amazing.  Also, I need to remember to have a thicker skin when querying.  If no one is interested in LOVE LETTERS, I will finally self-publish it and go from there, probably querying my next novel.  Currently I am crossing my fingers and checking my email way too often.

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