Monday, September 7, 2009

Having an Agent Would be Cool, for more than just the usual reasons

I lurk a lot on writer forums. Actually I just joined one called The Writers Chronicle which seems lovely, (thanks for the invite Emily!).

So on these forums I've often seen the question come up, "Do we unpubs really even need an agent?" And I answer, or actually I don't because I'm lurking, but in my lurky mind I think to myself, "Yes!" But maybe not only for the reasons you think.

Sometimes I pull out an old ms of mine and wonder...if I re-revise could I make this thing work? And I'm not talking about my very first ms (which I really promise I'll never query. Sometimes I think I should burn it just to be sure no one reads it. Ever). I'm talking about those manuscripts I'd put aside in the spirit of keep-moving-forward and all that jazz.

And if I did that and even one person seemed a tiny bit interested I might end up revamping the whole story and sending out a few queries (I tend to only send out to a few agents at a time. Maybe that's my problem. I should query the masses!).

By this point I might wonder, should I really put some energy into the old girl? Or stick to revising the one I just finished? Or start the next one that I've been plotting? Maybe I can do it all! It's like juggling, just throw in another bowling pin, I'll keep my hands moving and it'll be a great show!

So here are my thoughts: Besides having an agent for "selling" the book and all the contract stuff, it would cool to have advice from someone who really knows the market and can suggest where I should put my enthusiasm and where I should find an empty spot on my bookshelf.


  1. I found your blog link at the Writer's Chronicle Forum. You ask a good question here. I'm not an agent, but I have been represented and published two novels (now, alas, I'm between agents and out of print--a tougher place than just being a newbie.)

    Speaking as one who has collected a full set of mistakes in this business, I'd say wait until the agent replies to start working on the old ms.--if you get suggestions, great, then rethink. But while you're waiting, if the muse is with you, I'd say the best thing is to jump into something brand new while you query and not keep rewriting that old warhorse. I spent wayyy too much time on an unpublishable novel.

    When you do land an agent, you'll want inventory. So the old books can be trotted out then, and your agent can give advice on rewrites for the current market.

    On the other hand, you'll be most likely to get an agent if you query widely (or so they always say.) So you may be shooting yourself in the font if you only query a few popular agents. So I'd say query with what you've got and start writing your next masterpiece.

    I post a bunch of advice for newbie writers on my blog at Come on by and visit!

  2. Wow Anne, thank you so incredibly much for this advice. I've really been struggling with which direction to go. Hearing this from someone who's been there really gives me perspective and I'm taking your advice to heart. It's really hard letting go, but I'm going to keep moving forward.

    I know you're right about querying widely. I'm doing better with that nowadays and I have a list a mile long at querytracker but I can't seem to let go of more than four or five queries at a time. I want to hear back before starting a new round, which is so stupid right? It's basically like giving those four or five agents an exclusive and having to start over every few months.

    Thanks for your help and I'm really serious about needing to figure out the publishing side of writing. If I'm ever able to snag an agent's interest I hope I can email you for advice.

    Take care and I'm heading over to your blog!

  3. I did waaay too many rewrites on my first book and it never went any where. It got lots of reads from agents in its time, but that was it. You're better off starting on your next project.

  4. LOL tell me about it! With my first project I didn't even get any reads off the query, but this book is my second and it's hard to let go...still, the time has come. I've gotta keep moving forward :)