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A (familiar) Agent Story to Share

There’s nothing I can writing about “getting an agent” that hasn’t already been written before. Those of you who have one know how hard it was to get to that point. Those of you who don’t have one yet, or had one and, for whatever reason, parted ways, knows how frustrating that can be. Those of you who haven’t decided if you want or need an agent for your work…well, you’ve probably already researched the pros and cons. They’re all over the internet. I won’t bore you by repeating all the info.

But I heard an interview on the radio a couple of weeks ago: A prominent best-selling author was telling the interviewer about his pre-publication search for an agent. I love listening to these stories, even though the ones about authors who, miraculously, had “just the right contacts” tend to annoy me. I don’t know why they annoy me. It’s just one of those little quirks of mine that I really should be too embarrassed to admit in public. Here I am, admitting it anyway.

Anyhoo, this guy—who shall not be named because I can't remember his name—had written a novel and was looking for an agent. By chance, he happened to have a writer friend who had an Major Agent at a Major Agency. The Major Agency is one of the Top Three. The Major Agent is So Very Major that if I told you that agent’s name right here—just the first name, in fact—even those of you who aren’t yet in the business would probably recognize it. Yes. We’re talking That Major.

So the author’s friend contacts this agent and the Major Agent asks to see the author’s work. Author, of course, is THRILLED BEYOND BELIEF! Who wouldn't be? The agent of his DREAMS! The agent of any author’s dreams—I kid you not! The agent that, like, if you signed with him/her, you’d throw a party, invite your friends and your enemies and maybe even your boss, get totally wasted, not remember a thing, and discover pics of the event all over the Internet the next day.

So, Happy Excited (and Still-in-Shock) Author sends MA (Major Agent) his manuscript. MA loves his story! So then MA has author do multiple revisions over a period of time. Author works very hard. The details are a bit fuzzy now—this interview was a few weeks back—but it seems to me these revisions went on for months, possibly a year, probably more than a year. A long, looong time.

Back and forth. Author revises. MA reads. Author revises some more. MA reads some more. The usual stuff we writers go through, right?

Then MA decides he/she doesn’t like the project and won’t be able to sell it.

MA tells Author to go take a hike.

Up to this point I was driving in the car, listening to this and thinking (snarkily, I'm ashamed to admit), Yeah, big deal, you knew somebody who got a big-time agent and wow, your manuscript just FELL INTO THEIR LAP while the rest of us query for, like, fifteen fricking years and half the time we don’t hear back or else we get NO! NO! NO! or snotty e-mails (“Alas I did not find your story intriiiiguing enough…”)  blah, blah

And then when I heard that last part—that MA DROPPED the author after all that freaking work!—I almost ran my car up over a curb. “ARRRRRGHHH!" I screamed. “Are you f---ing KIDDING ME???”

That was my reaction. Imagine the author’s reaction.

In the end, the author did not torch his manuscript. He did not jump off a bridge. He did not drive to NYC with a fully loaded Uzi. More importantly, he did not give up. He started looking for another agent, on his own this time. He found one, a lesser known agent at a smaller agency, one who loved his work (really this time) who took him on as a client and eventually sold his novel. Yes, this novel became a best seller.

Later, the author, now pretty famous and doing VERY well, having been nominated for a prestigious award, ran into MA at a national book event.

MA wouldn’t even look him in the eye.

Funny how that story absolutely made my day. Possibly because, years ago, a similar thing happened to me...well, except for the best-seller part, and the stuff about the book award, and, um, being famous, etc. But seriously, people, just remember, it's rarely, almost NEVER "who you know."

It's up to you. xox

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Feb. 19th, 2013 08:34 pm (UTC)
Wow, this is a very apropos story for me right now. Thanks.
Feb. 19th, 2013 10:14 pm (UTC)
You're welcome!


Jeannine Garsee

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