Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
- Napoleon

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Puzzlement

A while back I read a blog post from an agent wherein the agent answered a reader question about whether it was a good idea to look for a publisher or editor when all the agents who rep'd a particular genre were exhausted. The agent gave the poor writer a firm NO. They said once all the agents had rejected you, there was no way you were going to find a publisher would accept your work, because agents are the ones who know what the editors are looking for.

Now, I'm not an industry genius by any stretch of the imagination, but the statement puzzled me. Another statement that seems to be popular in respect to agents is: This is a subjective business. So, in my mind, that means what one individual doesn't like, another one may. Right?

If you've exhausted all the individuals in the agenting world, then I would think you have the whole next level of individuals to try.

Of course, I'm talking about work that's been polished to a glossy shine, and is free from errors. It's a piece you've busted your ass on, and everyone who's read it thinks it's the cat's pajamas (not counting family and friends). Maybe it's a novel that's not in a popular genre; maybe it's a story with some gritty edge. And maybe it's waiting for just that one right person in the industry who loves it as much as you do.

You been through the couple score of agents who represent your book's genre, and none of them were wowed. But according to the aforementioned agent, you're just supposed to give up on it. How depressing is that thought? Especially when you've got a whole other pool of independent minds out there who just might like it. People who just might see the sales potential in it.

I think I understand where the agent's sentiment might be coming from. After all, agenting is their job. It's the necessary step to an author protecting himself from a bad contract, or a bad clause. I don't doubt that finding an agent is an important step. But when finding an agent fails, I don't think you should just stuff your manuscript into a box and shove it under the bed. The thought alone sucks all the hope right out of a person.

I also understand that this agent may have been trying to protect the blog readers from getting hurt. *shrug* Rejection and disappointment is par for the course here. Grow a thicker skin or you're never going to make it through the agent rejections to even try publishers.

I guess what I'm saying is that although I respect this particular agency, and typically find their advice to be useful and insightful, this time I think they're off the mark.

Tell me. What do you think?


Travis Erwin said...

I think there are a lot of factors here. Are we talking about nine or ten agents or fifty?

Were the rejection for queries, partial or fulls? This could mean the letter itself needs work or maybe the beginning of the novel is a bit too slow.

I'd say if you are getting to the full stage but still falling flat then maybe you'll find an editor with a bit differnet taste but if you are falling short int eh earlier stages I do not think odds are in your favor. But there is always that one exception.

B.E. Sanderson said...

You bring up some good points, Travis. In this case, I have no idea where the author was at in their querying process. And unless part of the letter were redacted, neither did the agent.

Like I said, the response just puzzled me.

Shannon said...

Yeah, I think the agent was probably just thinking in terms of "odds." Odds are, if an agent who does know the inside scoop on what editor is looking for what kind of manuscript, then you sending it off to editors yourself is just about as good as playing the lottery. Energy better spent working on a new novel, and then if that one sells you can pull out the rejected one for the buying editor to look at with it.

Tia Nevitt said...

I agree with you. You have nothing to lose but postage (or in the case of an e-query, time).