Hello from a newbie

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Luciferette

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Feb 28, 2017
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East Yorkshire
Hail fellows, well virtually met. I've been lurking around this site for a while, reading posts with interest, and decided it was about time I participated. Actually, I need some advice...
A couple of years ago, I was a finalist in a major literary agency/morning television show competition to find "the next bestseller". Three day trip to London, on telly twice, a snog from A Major TV Presenter (you'll see why I'm being a little cryptic in a sec) - I didn't win outright (boo), but I did get a lovely email from an agent at said company saying she loved my novel-in-progress and wanted to work with me (hurrah!).
Which she has. Emails, feedback/edits, an hour long phone interview (in which she requested exclusivity and I agreed), but (fair enough) no firm offer of rep 'til it was completed. I finally finished the bloody thing and submitted it to her on Nov 1st last year. Got a great, funny email within a few hours saying she was so pleased and excited to receive it and that she'd read it that week.
And since then...nothing. Zip. A few "likes" on twitter, but no reply to my nudge last week...nowt. So it's been almost four months and I'm stuck here flapping like a pigeon in a burning chimney. Do I give up, withdraw the exclusive in writing and submit elsewhere? Or keep waiting (im)patiently, in the hope that she's just really busy and needs time to prepare a report before making a final decision?
Help! Surely some of you lovely people must have suffered this awful waiting dilemma? I'm trying to keep busy with the next novel, but patience is one of the many virtues I lack :)
Nice to meet you all!
 
Welcome:). Re your question: Firstly, congratulations! And secondly, I personally would wait at least another two months. Agents are busy -- it takes time to read stuff -- etc -- that's just the way it is. But that could just be me being pessimistic about the chances of getting as far with another agent -- maybe your novel is so great it will be snapped up elsewhere immediately. Perhaps drop her a line saying that you would like to withdraw exclusivity at the six month mark? That gives her 2 months to extract finger. @AgentPete may have an opinion...
 
Welcome:). Re your question: Firstly, congratulations! And secondly, I personally would wait at least another two months. Agents are busy -- it takes time to read stuff -- etc -- that's just the way it is. But that could just be me being pessimistic about the chances of getting as far with another agent -- maybe your novel is so great it will be snapped up elsewhere immediately. Perhaps drop her a line saying that you would like to withdraw exclusivity at the six month mark? That gives her 2 months to extract finger. @AgentPete may have an opinion...
Thanks Marc Yes, my gut instinct is to sit tight, drink lots of wine and keep writing...I think your advice is the way to go. The agency is a great one, worth waiting for, and if it doesn't come off then (sobs) hey, ho. Such is the writing life! Any thoughts from Agent Pete would be most welcome...
 
Hello :) Sounds very promising. Would seem worth hanging on for a little longer, perhaps just not much longer given the background, but why should you grant exclusivity before and until she has even signed you up on her books?
 
Hello :) Sounds very promising. Would seem worth hanging on for a little longer, perhaps just not much longer given the background, but why should you grant exclusivity before and until she has even signed you up on her books?
Hi :) she said she'd understand if I chose to submit elsewhere but said she would really appreciate "first dibs" - I guess after years spent dreaming of getting an agent (any agent!), to have one from a tip-top outfit actually chasing me up was...well, gobsmacking. I *might* have been a bit giddy and would have agreed to literally anything at that point. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, eh? I'm just trying not to be too optimistic - "promising" maybe, but "on a promise" sadly not. Thanks for replying x
 
Hello Luciferette, good to have you around.

Perhaps drop her a line saying that you would like to withdraw exclusivity at the six month mark? That gives her 2 months to extract finger. @AgentPete may have an opinion...

OK, some basic thoughts, bearing in mind all I know is what you’ve outlined above.

Great experience for you! The whirlwind of publicity is fun, I hope you enjoyed it. And you got to make some interesting contacts, too. All good stuff. But mostly, “writing” isn’t like that. Hence Litopia, a place where we can support each other, sharpen the saw, and often get the inside poop on what’s really going on in this frequently-confusing business (your initial experience has been exactly that).

First, you need to find out what exactly is going on with the agent concerned (I have an idea on that, more below). A straight phone call or letter ought to do that. Don’t be shy about “pestering” – four months is plenty long enough, and in any case, agents pester for a living.

So screw up your courage and make that call.

My hunch is that your work may have fallen into that “difficult” category – a bit flawed, but also a bit good, too. We all have submissions that fall into that area, and the result all too often is procrastination.

Here's the key issue. She has to decide if she feels it will be worth spending some serious time on your business. So ask her, simply and directly. Don’t turn your back on her/them (it’s a good contact after all), and don’t give them an ultimatum. Let her know, in a businesslike way, that you understand she has to decide if she wants to invest some time in you/ the manuscript. You will probably be helping her by framing the issue.

If you’re anywhere near London, you could ask her for a coffee... easier and better face to face.

Anyhow, if her answer is No, then post it here and your fellow Litopians will help you strategise the next stage.
 
Hello Luciferette, good to have you around.



OK, some basic thoughts, bearing in mind all I know is what you’ve outlined above.

Great experience for you! The whirlwind of publicity is fun, I hope you enjoyed it. And you got to make some interesting contacts, too. All good stuff. But mostly, “writing” isn’t like that. Hence Litopia, a place where we can support each other, sharpen the saw, and often get the inside poop on what’s really going on in this frequently-confusing business (your initial experience has been exactly that).

First, you need to find out what exactly is going on with the agent concerned (I have an idea on that, more below). A straight phone call or letter ought to do that. Don’t be shy about “pestering” – four months is plenty long enough, and in any case, agents pester for a living.

So screw up your courage and make that call.

My hunch is that your work may have fallen into that “difficult” category – a bit flawed, but also a bit good, too. We all have submissions that fall into that area, and the result all too often is procrastination.

Here's the key issue. She has to decide if she feels it will be worth spending some serious time on your business. So ask her, simply and directly. Don’t turn your back on her/them (it’s a good contact after all), and don’t give them an ultimatum. Let her know, in a businesslike way, that you understand she has to decide if she wants to invest some time in you/ the manuscript. You will probably be helping her by framing the issue.

If you’re anywhere near London, you could ask her for a coffee... easier and better face to face.

Anyhow, if her answer is No, then post it here and your fellow Litopians will help you strategise the next stage.

Excellent advice there, thank you so much! You've hit the nail on the head, I think - the novel is lit.com. historical, maybe hard to place in a market gagging for domestic noir etc, and I know it's decent (there were almost 5000 entries to the comp) but the bottom line is:
It's a business. She's got to sell it. And, if she thinks that'll be too difficult - it's a pass.
I'm going to give it another couple of weeks then send a polite, witty yet firm* email asking where I stand. I shall let you all know the result! And what a great site this is, loved reading it for ages and it's so nice to participate.
*which will probably go through more drafts than the novel...
 
Really, you should phone. Speak to her assistant (agents often share them) and say you'd like to set up a time to have a "nice chat". The assistant will then make the arrangements.

Emails are way too easy to ignore...
 
Really, you should phone. Speak to her assistant (agents often share them) and say you'd like to set up a time to have a "nice chat". The assistant will then make the arrangements.

Emails are way too easy to ignore...
Yikes...that sounds scary! But you're right, I know. I guess we mere mortals - those hankering after the trad publishing model, anyway - spend our lives being pretty intimidated by the "gatekeepers". Are agents REALLY humans, too? Litopiats: discuss :)
 
Have a friend – he directed the THIN AIR video – whose first job was operating Mr. Headroom!
 
Welcome @Luciferette! I say yes to everyone's comments above, regarding your dilemma. And though it would freak me out to do so, I agree with @Agent Pete that a phone call's the way to go. You've presumably met this agent in person, no? Then a phone call makes total sense. Good luck! Let us know how it goes.
 
I'm glad it would freak you out, too, Robine (I'm such a wimp). We've not met in person, only phone calls - she did suggest meeting for coffee, but I'm in the wilds of East Yorkshire and work 6 days a week, so we agreed to wait until I'd finished the novel before making the trip to London.
Just hoping she contacts me in the next fortnight, even if it's to say NO, so I don't have to be as brave as Max/Pete suggests..,
 
Welcome, Luciferette. Congratulations on your progress, so far. Although you're anxious, what you've experienced will be invaluable as you move forward in your writing career.

Living on the edge of any decision is nerve-wracking, so it would be better to know one way or another. Removing exclusive rights to your work might force a decision if the idea of making a phone call gives you the screaming ab-dabs! :eek:
 
Welcome, Luciferette. Congratulations on your progress, so far. Although you're anxious, what you've experienced will be invaluable as you move forward in your writing career.

Living on the edge of any decision is nerve-wracking, so it would be better to know one way or another. Removing exclusive rights to your work might force a decision if the idea of making a phone call gives you the screaming ab-dabs! :eek:
Hello, thanks Paul :) yes, this has certainly prepared me for the constant nail-chewing horror of a writer's life. I mean, agented authors must have the same ridiculous paranoia thing while waiting for an editor's decision too, right? And then follows the critics, the Amazon review-terrors, or worse...the silence.
Why do we do this to ourselves?!
 
Hi Luciferette, sounds like lots of good advice here! Good luck with speaking to the AGENT :D - and you have spoken to her a few times already, so it can't be that bad right? :)
 
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