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honeysock
02-03-2010, 10:03 PM
Maybe this should be in the Purgatory forum. I don't know. I've gotten myself into what *could* be an enviable situation . . . if I handle it right. Unfortunately I don't have a smooth history in the handling-it-right department:

There is an old-school agent who's currently with one of NY's oldest agencies (50+ years). Prior to that she was with WME. Her m.o. is requesting exclusives. I know, it's a long-outdated tradition. After ten days of reading my full, she initially wrote me a complimentry, detailed rejection. I thanked her with a brief reply email. The next day, this was in my inbox:

"Honeysock, if you do not find an agent for this, I would really like to work with you to make it marketable.

Best,
Top-tier-agent" [whom I still can't remember why I queried]

I would have been stupid not to pounce on this, right? So I replied with a letter exclaiming my willingness to revise blah blah blah, and I told her I would continue to put all other pending submissions on hold until I had returned to her any changes she wanted to see.

This was eight days ago. How long should I wait for a reply? How do I know she even received my email? FWIW, I never received any acknowledgement of my manuscript either during the exclusive period, in spite of follow-ups. Nothing until the initial rejection. Granted, she reads the fulls pretty quickly. The not knowing if she received my email is what's killing me. I have found nothing on the internet indicating she's ever done this type of thing before.

Has anyone ever dealt with a similar situation? Any advice would be hugely appreciated. I will gladly reveal the agent's name in a PM.

Jamesaritchie
02-03-2010, 10:46 PM
Requesting an exclusive on a full is hardly an outdated tradition. It's still very common, and I don;t trust an agent who doesn't ask for an exclusive.

It's really pretty simple. Do you want this agent to represent you? If so, you wait as long as she needs you to wait. What better way to spend your time than by waiting for a good agent to get back to you?

As for the e-mail, if you didn't get a bounce, she almost certainly received it.

Phaeal
02-03-2010, 10:56 PM
It seems that she received your thank-you email without a problem, since she replied to it the next day. So check your Sent file to make sure you sent your last email to the same address. If you did, I'd assume she got that acceptance of her offer to work with you on the MS.

It IS a tough situation, since you're now unable to send out more queries and partials/fulls. I've never heard of an agent rejecting an MS, then changing her mind in response to a TY. Though I've fantasized about that happening. ;)

I guess I'd give her a month to respond to your offer, then follow up. It might not be out of line to follow up with a phone call, given the special situation. After all, you do need to know whether to seek other representation.

shinta
02-03-2010, 11:11 PM
A similar situation happened to me. A very prominent NYC agent sent an email, not with an offer for representation, but an offer to help rewrite the manuscript(with the understanding she would reconsider the work on an exclusive basis). I jumped at her offer but found out, much to my dismay, that while she really meant well, she did not have the time to revise the mansucript with me. She took a very long time to respond to each email I sent. I did not feel up to putting my life on hold, with no promises at the end, and so I moved on. I simply took it as a very favorable rejection, if one could be called that.

honeysock
02-03-2010, 11:29 PM
Thanks so much--good advice from all of you. You're right, Mr. Ritchie, that if I want her to rep me, I'll just have to wait. And yes, Phaeal, I think a month sounds fair. I'm not sure I would ever have the guts to call an agent though. And Shinta, it has crossed my mind that while she may have meant well, she really might not have the time to go through the ms. again to tell me what needs fixing. Maybe that's why she hasn't responded yet. I hope, Shinta, that you found representation after moving on?

Again, huge thanks for the help. I've been having to get up and walk away from the computer to keep from making an email nuisance of myself to her. This will help hold me back.

I love AW. :)

shinta
02-04-2010, 12:00 AM
Honeysock, I did sign up with my dream agent shortly after this episode. So, while I, sure, hope this deal materializes for you, no harm if it doesn't. Someone wanted to work with you. Others will too. I wish you nothing but the best.

jclarkdawe
02-04-2010, 02:04 AM
Now I've been on the other side of this situation as an attorney. I had a person approach me about a legal problem. I felt a lot of sympathy for the person, and basically responded that if she couldn't find an attorney better suited to represent them, to let me know and I would.


"Honeysock, if you do not find an agent for this, I would really like to work with you to make it marketable.

Notice how similar the agent's and my answer are to each other. The person immediately contacted me, assuming that I was offering to represent them. And I realize you're not going to quite that extreme.

But I think the translation of the agent's sentence should be, "If, after you move heaven and earth and search underneath every stone, and every agent that's out there says "no," contact me and I'll see what I can do." But I can understand your assumption and reaction.

Now, however, the agent I think might be finder herself deeper in the pool than she meant to be swimming and is trying to figure out how to deal with this. In my case, it took about two weeks, calling in a couple of favors and offering of more favors, and finding an attorney that could better address the problems the client faced, before I contacted the individual. I wasn't going to contact them until I had all my ducks in a row, since I was the one who got them out of row.

I think that's what might be going on here. And there's no way I can think of for getting out of it on your side, other than sit back and wait. Sorry.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

honeysock
02-04-2010, 03:07 AM
Ah-h-h, no, Jim! That's not what I wanted to hear! I like the other three answers much better. : )

But what you're saying here--

"Now, however, the agent I think might be finder herself deeper in the pool than she meant to be swimming and is trying to figure out how to deal with this. In my case, it took about two weeks, calling in a couple of favors and offering of more favors, and finding an attorney that could better address the problems the client faced, before I contacted the individual. I wasn't going to contact them until I had all my ducks in a row."

--is pretty much what Shinta said:

"I jumped at her offer but found out, much to my dismay, that while she really meant well, she did not have the time to revise the mansucript with me. She took a very long time to respond to each email I sent."

You took so long to reply to your client because you really didn't want the job, and that's what happened to Shinta, and that is very likely what's happening here.

I'll wait another three weeks. It's only time after all, right? In the meantime, maybe I'll come to Ms. Agent in a dream--with the face of Fortune-- and she'll wake up, grab the phone, and make The Call.

Thanks Jim.

Jamesaritchie
02-04-2010, 03:21 AM
Please, God, never, ever allow an agent to work on your manuscript in any manner whatsoever.

honeysock
02-04-2010, 03:46 AM
Please, God, never, ever allow an agent to work on your manuscript in any manner whatsoever.

I thought that's what agents did.
I thought The Call always began with "If you're willing to change yada yada yada . . ."
And I thought part of that was just a testing-of-the-water on the agent's part, to make sure the client was malleable and easy to work with.

No?

M.R.J. Le Blanc
02-04-2010, 04:19 AM
It is what agents do, if they feel it'll strengthen the work.

Anaquana
02-04-2010, 04:24 AM
Honeysock, there are different views on allowing agents to make changes to your work.

Some agents consider themselves to be "editorial" agents and will want to work with you to make your story as strong as possible. Others will simply want to sell your work to a publisher as is and let the pub's editor suggest changes.

Think about an agent's suggestions, but don't make changes just because he/she said to do so. What it boils down to is this - it's your story. If you feel that an agent's suggestions compromise your vision of your work, then don't do it.

For myself, I don't write literary anything and I don't have a grand vision of what my work is supposed to be. I write fun urban fantasy stories that I hope will be a commercial success. If an agent wants to make suggestions on how I can make it stronger, then they are more than welcome to give me their advice. If I like their ideas, I'll take them. If not, I'll disregard them.

Just remember that an agent should always have your best interest in mind because they only make money when you do.

And don't be malleable just because you think that's what an agent wants. This should be a partnership, not a hierarchy of power with the agent in charge. It's your career - you're the one in charge.

Claudia Gray
02-04-2010, 04:50 AM
Many agents will suggest changes. I would advise hearing what the suggested changes are before rejecting them out of hand. Some of the best advice and edits I've ever received came from my agent, and yet she's never asked me to compromise what I honestly thought best for the story.

Calla Lily
02-04-2010, 05:23 AM
What Claudia said.

My agent had excellent (minor) suggestions for my book. I showed him I was easy to work with; he showed me that love of a book doesn't preclude knowing where to make it a better read. He turned that confidence into a three-book deal for me. (Squee!)

When I get book 2 into shape, I'm happily giving it to him to make suggestions on, because the man knows his stuff.

Dungeon Geek
02-04-2010, 07:52 AM
Honeysock,

Don't jump to conclusions, for the love of Pete! Give that agent time to respond, and listen to what she has to say concerning the rewriting of your novel. You may find her advice to be worthy. I know where James Ritchie is coming from on this, but everything isn't black and white. You can judge whether or not her "marketing" advice is sound and go from there.

It is HIGHLY unlikely the agent was hoping you would go away and contact other agents first. That's makes absolutely no sense, especially from a seasoned professional. The rejection was probably simply to soften you up a bit, and then the tentative acceptance was there to save the day and set the hook deep.

I strongly suggest waiting for a reply--for months, if need be. Some things just cannot be rushed, and she'll get back to you when she's ready. Calm down. Grab a cup of coffee and relax. You've found a good lead, and the #1 rule is don't blow it. If the deal falls through, let it fall through because of the agent and not because you jumped the gun or hit the panic button. Six months from now, you may thank yourself for showing some patience.

honeysock
02-04-2010, 07:56 AM
Oh, I guess so much depends on the agent.

Will I ever meet the agent of my dreams? Have I already met him/her and just don't know it at the moment? *bursts into song--"Some enchanted evening, you may see a stranger . . . "*

Sorry. Frustration + wine = that.

I would make changes for the right agent. I actually have turned down a (new) agent because I didn't agree with her suggested changes. (Plus, she was too new. Don't even know why I queried her.)

You all are living proof that it happens. : ) Thanks.

honeysock
02-04-2010, 08:00 AM
Ya know, Dungeon, that's exactly what my gut is telling me. (We cross -posted. Or I was busy singing.)

This agent is a good one, and she *did* say she would work with me. I can't read her mind--just her emails. I'll wait it out.

I will go to bed with peace of mind and a vow of patience.

'Night all.


ETA: "If the deal falls through, let it fall through because of the agent and not because you jumped the gun or hit the panic button." Very sound advice. You are so right.

James D. Macdonald
02-04-2010, 10:40 AM
I wouldn't be surprised if you don't hear anything for months.

Write another book while you're waiting.

Old Hack
02-04-2010, 04:30 PM
Please, God, never, ever allow an agent to work on your manuscript in any manner whatsoever.

James, I understand that's what works for you: but I know of several agents who began as editors and are skilled and experienced in that field, who have helped several of their clients improve their books and so get them published.

I also know of a few agents who have edited the life out of their clients' works.

I think the question of whether or not agents should edit their clients' books can only be answered with a hefty dose of "it depends": on who the agent is, who the client is, what changes are being suggested and why, and how the author feels about those changes. But to say a writer should never allow it--I don't think it's appropriate to offer such a blanket condemnation in this instance.

Phaeal
02-04-2010, 07:07 PM
I really wouldn't suggest waiting six months. If the agent isn't interested enough in your MS to answer before then, she's not interested enough in the MS.

It wouldn't matter so much if you weren't on hold with all other submissions. But since you are, I still think one month is a sufficient wait.

What jclarkdawe wrote struck me as a likely scenario. I too had a sense the agent wasn't enthusiatically demanding that MS back -- she wouldn't have turned it down in the first place, then. However, she does like it well enough to want to help you, if you can't find someone really enthusiastic (willing to offer representation right off.)

That she likes it well enough to make the conditional offer is a good sign. Don't cut yourself off from other opportunities for too long.

honeysock
02-04-2010, 07:39 PM
Thanks to all for the feedback. I was prepared to wait another three weeks . . . but didn't have to! The agent emailed me ten minutes ago with two suggestions for revision as "a place to start."

I am thrilled, to say the least. I hope this leads to . . .

Can't even write it. Way too jinx-y.

Again, THANKS Mr. Ritchie, Phaeal, shinta, Jim, M.R.J., Anaquana, Claudia, Callalilly, Dungeon, Uncle Jim, and Old Hack. All those good vibes surely wafted her way and lured her to the computer this morning. :)

Calla Lily
02-04-2010, 07:40 PM
Good luck!

Dungeon Geek
02-04-2010, 07:46 PM
I really wouldn't suggest waiting six months. If the agent isn't interested enough in your MS to answer before then, she's not interested enough in the MS.

It wouldn't matter so much if you weren't on hold with all other submissions. But since you are, I still think one month is a sufficient wait.

What jclarkdawe wrote struck me as a likely scenario. I too had a sense the agent wasn't enthusiatically demanding that MS back -- she wouldn't have turned it down in the first place, then. However, she does like it well enough to want to help you, if you can't find someone really enthusiastic (willing to offer representation right off.)

That she likes it well enough to make the conditional offer is a good sign. Don't cut yourself off from other opportunities for too long.



Well, I crossed posts with honeysock again! Congrats, honeysock, by the way. However, I'll leave this post as an example to other writers:

Don't forget that the agent already gave what amounted to a "yes" on the manuscript. Granted, she could change her mind and say, "On second thought, hell with it. Find someone else." But it isn't likely. The reason she could take longer than the 1 month you would give her is because she may not have the time to begin working with the writer until then, or she could be taking an unofficial vacation, or she could be testing the writer's patience to see what kind of dude he is and whether or not he'll get snippy with her right off the bat (hey, it happens).

Good opportunities are tough to come by and should not be taken lightly. Most agents who have been around for many years are patient and know what to look for in a writer. To play the game correctly, the writer must be up to the task. Sending out queries is not nearly as important as following up a good lead. If it takes six months and she still backs out, it was worth the gamble with the writer's time.

To use the old clichéd fishing terms: The goal is always to hook the fish, not to cast the line. When you hook a fish that feels like a winner, you concentrate on reeling it in first and foremost. Here's what you DON'T do: You don't cut the line so you can cast out more lines. That leads to going home without supper.

honeysock
02-04-2010, 08:03 PM
Thanks Dungeon and Callalilly.

Writers are the smartest people on the planet.

backslashbaby
02-04-2010, 08:19 PM
Congrats!!

I'd play it low-key with her and give her more time/space than you might normally. You sound like an extra project -- yay for you!

honeysock
02-04-2010, 08:48 PM
Congrats!!

I'd play it low-key with her and give her more time/space than you might normally. You sound like an extra project -- yay for you!

I know. I can only hope to someday be her problem child. :D