View Full Version : Need Help

David McAfee
12-05-2008, 11:47 PM
I am not quite sure how to go about this, so I thought I'd ask some of the seasoned veterans out there. I thought I had an agent. But since she never offered a contract I never really felt like one of her clients. She also never offered any editorial feedback on the work, suggested no changes, etc. She sent my book to five publishers (all rejected). Then...nothing. She said she wasn't going to send it anywhere else.

On my own, I've sent it to several smaller presses (Only those that accept unagented subs, since my agent wasn't going to send to them for me) and managed to drum up some interest in it. No offers yet, but two presses are looking over the manuscript and one of them is looking like it could bite any day (no guarantees, though).

Now, since I don't have a contract with the original agent, and since I'm doing all the work on my own, I thought I might part company with her and see if I could get another agent. Since a LOT of the big presses didn't get touched the first time around (St. Martin's, S&S, Ballantine, etc.), should I give it a try? Or is this project pretty much dead at this point unless picked up by one of the two aforementioned small presses?

Also, I have a friend who is repped by a very good agent (No, A.P., not talking about you and Jodi), and this friend has already provided a blurb for my book (just in case). Is it ethical to approach his agent with a query and include the blurb? Should I ask my friend's permission first? I'm totally lost.

Any and all advice and perspective would be greatly appreciated, even if it's just to tell me to chill out.


12-05-2008, 11:57 PM
It sounds to me like you are not happy with your agent, and I don't blame you. An agent who only sends out an MS to five houses and then gives up? And even if this book is dead in the water now, do you really want this woman, who has given you absolutely no feedback and truly doesn't really seem to care about your work or even you as a writer, representing another one of your books? Why don't you send her an email saying you will be parting ways, and then you'll be free to do whatever you want? However you can't have your cake and eat it too. You can't keep her on board just in case, but go behind her back. That's just not professional, and will only backfire on you and your reputation.

As to your friend's agent, why not ask your friend about it? You are of course totally allowed to approach that agent (once you have severed ties with yours) independently. But if you want to use your friend's name and blurb, it would probably just be a nice thing to get his blessing. After all, what's the harm?

Good luck with it all!

David McAfee
12-06-2008, 12:01 AM
Thanks, Adrienne. You rock, you know. I'm waiting for Timmy to come out. ;)

12-06-2008, 12:11 AM
Aw thanks . . . though really the answer was right there in front of you, it's just when we are emotionally involved with things we really can't see it. At least I know I get super stupid when my emotions flare up . . . which is . . . all the time.

As to Timmy, that is very sweet of you, and really I am actually pretty terrified about it. Also very excited.

Once more good luck with all the agent stuff, grr, and make sure you let us know how it turned out!

12-06-2008, 12:34 AM
And since you don't have a contract, all you need to do is notify her that you're seeking new representation and wish her the very best of luck.

If you had had a contract, it might have been more complicated. But without one, all you have is a handshake agreement, so send her a nice handshake (by snailmail, with confirmation of receipt, JUST IN CASE) and move on.

David McAfee
12-06-2008, 12:52 AM
Thanks, Empress. That's a good point. I sent her an email, but I'd better send her a hard copy, too.

12-06-2008, 01:38 AM
You'll need to find out where it went, and if possible, what the editors said.

There is a positive way to spin this in query letters. Here's what worked for me. (Of course, you'll have to tinker to make it fit your situation, but here was mine) I'm typing this from memory. I should dig out the actual query I used, but toward the end of the query, after describing the book, I did something like this:

"Last year a top agent at a top agency, XX with XX, loved my book and offered representation. She sent the book to a small handful of editors. When the editors came back with the same response, she said, "This book needs something, but I'm not sure what, so I will step aside." I studied the responses from the editors and did a complete revision, and I feel the book is ready to send again."

It seemed to me that most agents weren't fazed by this. Of course, I put it at the end after writing the most dazzling possible description of my book. Some agents wanted to know what the other editors said, and some may have been unduly influence in a negative way. The new agent I just signed with sort of shrugged off my previous experience and said, "Those kinds of things happen."

So that's what worked for me.

It's probably a good idea, at any rate, to use the opportunity to see how you can improve the book.