Wednesday 27 June 2012

Afraid to get an agent ...

So, I KNOW, my work is not quite fit for the commercial market. But despite it being classified as 'literary', I do believe I can hook my readers into thinking that's it's not really. I can tell a story. I know how to keep the suspense going, even though the suspense is hanging from emotional threads, rather than action threads.

I think if I worked hard enough to get an agent, that I would eventually get one. Especially with my latest work in progress, MUTED. But I know, from my attempts re my last two novels, that I gave up after not getting anywhere with my "priority list". For some reason, I've resigned myself to the fact that I'm a "Small Press" magnet. I'm happy being published by a small press. I don't need that six-figure deal to feel successful. And the pros behind these presses "get" me. And are passionate enough to get my work out there the best it can be.

But there's a certain someone in my life who keeps insisting that I need an agent. She's convinced that there's an agent out there who will be as passionate about my work as she is, and as the Small Press pros are, and as some of my readers evidently are. And after her constant pushing to get me to promise that I will seek an agent for MUTED, and not give up, I started to wonder why I'm so hesitant about it.

I've come to realize that I'm SHIT SCARED.

Why? Because I'm worried that I'll get that passionate agent, and they won't ever be able to sell it in this whacked publishing climate of today because of its "literaryness" and that the book will be in limbo for years on end, and then I'll end up having to publish it with a small press anyway. I HATE BEING IN LIMBO. And I predict that if I score that agent, that I will be in a perpetual state of frustration. It will mess with my head.

On the other hand, I could get that agent, and score an awesome deal with Penguin, or something, yeah? But, of course ... I can't bring myself to be that optimistic ...

Thoughts? What are your agent fears?


  1. As death begins with life, acceptance begins with rejection. Don't 'logic' yourself out of your dream. You're an amazing talent. Go for it!

  2. Kittie said it perfectly. And your chances of snagging an agent now that you're published are better. Yes, go for it!

  3. You have to remember that you're in control of the agent relationship and that if it takes longer than you'd like, you can end it and take everything back into your hands. Don't let fear stand in your way!

  4. Don't let fear stop you. Just ask yourself - what do YOU really want? I am happy with my small publisher because I never planned on getting this far. But if you've dreams of an agent still, go for you.

  5. Sweetie - I understand totally. I fear never getting an agent, also fear never getting even small publishing houses interested! I guess it depends on expectations. If you keep them realistic (WITHOUT being negative), then you'll get there.

    I wish you all the best - and thanks for all your support in my attempt to finish and get published my novel.


  6. When it comes to getting an agent, at the moment of the offer, you could talk to the agent about these concerns so he/she can plan the submission strategy accordingly. And you'll sign only with an agent who "gets" you and your work, and who understands your goals for your career and shares them. But also--I agree with Alex--you have to decide what YOU want.

  7. I think there's nothing wrong with dreaming big and if you think an agent will help you get to the next step then there's no harm in going for it. But as Sarah said, it needs to be the right one. You're not bound for life to any agent so you shouldn't be afraid of dropping them if things don't work out.

  8. I totally understand. I'm afraid of the "no's". It's easier to dream of something good happening rather than seeing it not happen at all. If you think you'd like what an agent can bring, maybe you should try for one and see what happens. Even if the book is in limbo for awhile, if it doesn't sell you could go the small press route. And you'll be writing other books.

  9. My biggest fear (and I know this sounds stupid, but whatever) is that I'll get an agent, sell a book, and then have a bunch of deadlines I can't meet. Especially since the one MS is intended as a series - I worry it would take me years to get the second volume right.

    And I don't think there's anything wrong with your fears. After all, you can't be brave if you're not afraid. But you are brave, Jess. You are.

    Do you know PJ Hoover? Google her, and the history of how she sold her book, Solstice. It's really interesting.

  10. Well, the good news is nothing's set in stone. If you do get an agent, and she can't sell your work, you can still go small with it. Many agents will even work with you on going small as well. But you have to do what's right for you. I'd say nothing ventured, but you're the boss. Even when you have that agent, you're the boss! (sort of)

  11. Don't be scared. Take a chance. Having an agent will help - if they are a good agent. Even though I don't have one yet, if I had a chance at landing a good one I'd snag it.

  12. I can understand your apprehension. The right agent is nice, but it would be bad to get locked into a deal with the wrong agent that's not a good fit for you. I'd love to get agent offers, but it's scary to commit. It's like getting married or something.

    Tossing It Out

  13. I hope you follow your heart. I know for the longest time I was convinced the only way I could validate myself was to go all the way and go the "big route." But after talking to an agent at a conference, I realized the route I really want to take and why patience is my friend at this point. I also realized at that point that I was convincing myself that I was not good enough for what other people have. Needless to say, serious reflection followed, lol.

    I hope you end up doing what is right for you! I say if you get an agent, they are lucky. :)

  14. Love the picture. I look like that about every morning. I think you should follow your heart but also give it a time period. Your agent won't have to know that she has six months to make something happen, or a year or whatever. Just set aside a deadline and if the agent can't reach it, can him or her and wing it baby.

  15. I turn my brain off a lot. It helps.

  16. I'm more along the lines of Matt. Like, what if i sell one book, but then can't sell any more? Sigh.
    But that's putting the cart waaaay before the horse. I've got enough to worry about without worrying about things that might happen after other things that might happen. If that makes sense

  17. I pretty much agree with what everyone else is saying, if you don't go for it you'll always have that "if only" doubt lingering in the back of your mind. Go for it and let the chips fall where they may! :)

  18. I so understand. I'm torn between getting an agent and going small press or self pubbing myself. I've done a bit of agent querying and have gotten great feedback, but sometimes I'm relieved when it's a no. Weird? I have many of the same worries as you. And I don't like not having control too.
    I'm re-revising this summer and going from there.
    Good luck!

  19. Which is why I'm stuck in the short story thing right now. I like shopping for publications, and the query thing is much easier. I think my query needs more help than I'll ever be able to produce.

    My first trilogy is more literary than action too - in fact, it doesn't even have an antagonist. Just a bunch of people trying to cope. But someday I'm gonna have to dust off the novels and try again. Yep; shit scary.


  20. Make your decision on your goals. If you want the big publishing then try querying! But your fears aren't irrational. I know many writers who have been with agents for 1-4 years with no sales and lots of agent revisions and rewrites. But if that's what you want then give it try! I'd feel the same way. Right now, I have no desire to query!


“I'm using my art to comment on what I see. You don't have to agree with it.” ~John Mellencamp

“Allowing an unimportant mistake to pass without comment is a wonderful social grace” ~Judith S. Marin

“I don't ever try to make a serious social comment.” ~Paul McCartney

“I'd make a comment at a meeting and nobody would even acknowledge me. Then some man would say the same thing and they'd all nod.” ~Charlotte Bunch

“Probably what my comment meant was that I don't care about the circumstances if I can tell the truth.” ~Sally Kirkland

“We're not going to pay attention to the silliness and the petty comments. And quite frankly, women have joined me in this effort, and so it's not about appearances. It's about effectiveness.” ~Katherine Harris