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YAFuelsMySoul
05-11-2011, 03:38 AM
Agented authors (at all stages of the game),

A few days ago I had an epiphany that I just need to run by my peers to make sure I have not been sucked into a vortex of impatience and self-importance...

I am currently repped by a great agent who is part of a successful group. Prior to being offered representation I worked with the agent for over a year on edits to my MS. She finally offered me representation and after a few more rounds of revisions we submitted. All but one editor passed. The one editor who was interested is from one of the big six houses. I am very honored and grateful to have gotten her notes, which i agreed with on most levels and worked hard to revise. I got agent the revised MS about four months ago and she thought it still needed more work before resubmitting. But I still haven't gotten her notes or comments. She's seems very busy with other clients.

How long is a reasonable time to wait for this kind of feedback? Is four months too long? It's now been almost a year since the editor gave her comments and she even approached my agent asking how my revision was going and was excited to read it. But at this rate I'm worried she never will, considering I still haven't gotten the notes from the agent.

Am I being impatient? If so, I would happily be open to being schooled! Or, am I insane to stick with the agent? I just don't know anymore. I am so clouded by my second-guessing. I used to so grateful to even have an agent...

Any advice or reality check would be appreciated!!

profen4
05-11-2011, 04:08 AM
I don't think you're being impatient, but i don't think it's time to jump ship either. Have you asked her for an update? Does she reply to your emails?

YAFuelsMySoul
05-11-2011, 04:55 AM
Yes, I make contact every four weeks and always get the same response...that she's really close to getting to review my revised MS. After getting the same response, peppered with excuses about personal things she is dealing with, I am starting to think she's just not that into me anymore (or just not as connected to my MS as she is to her other clients'.) I really don't want to jump ship. I think she's great in all other areas...

Becca C.
05-11-2011, 05:40 AM
I might wait a little longer, but if you get to the six month mark with no real response, I would break off the relationship and find a new agent.

popmuze
05-11-2011, 06:08 AM
Are you in contact with the editor at all? It seems a shame agents hold all the cards in these matters. Although, in the publishing world, I'm beginning to realize, four months is like four minutes (in a boxing ring with Smokin' Joe Frazier). I had the same thing with an agent, with whom I made even less progress. Didn't even get to the first set of notes after eight months. That was during the bedbug crisis.

cate townsend
05-11-2011, 07:50 AM
I don't think you are being impatient. It seems odd, though, that your agent doesn't seem to view this as a priority. I'd think an agent would be very proactive in getting things moving if a big house took interest in one of their clients. Have you talked to any of her other clients? Is she like this with everyone? If this is her normal way of doing things, then you've got to decide if this kind of relationship works for you. If this is not her norm, then you'd be better off with an agent who will step up to the plate a little faster. Tell us how it goes.

scope
05-11-2011, 08:09 AM
Yes, I make contact every four weeks and always get the same response...that she's really close to getting to review my revised MS. After getting the same response, peppered with excuses about personal things she is dealing with, I am starting to think she's just not that into me anymore (or just not as connected to my MS as she is to her other clients'.) I really don't want to jump ship. I think she's great in all other areas...

Sounds to me like it's time you had for a heart to heart talk with your agent -- phone if possible, email if must. For you to get hung up for a year awaiting her notes is not right, nor is her telling you every 30 days that they will follow, which they appaently don't. A polite, well defined call or email should tell you where she's at and if her heart and time are still with your work.

Good luck.

jacket
05-11-2011, 08:18 AM
Four months seems like a long time, but I really don't know anything about how these things work. I just signed with an agent in November and I'm going through very thorough edits with her, and if I hear nothing for 3-4 weeks I start panicking that she doesn't love me anymore and proceed to pester her with emails. I keep fearing that I'm being annoying, but she's only ever nice, so she's either really good at faking it, or she actually isn't annoyed. Either way, while I have gotten several "I'll send you something tomorrow/next week/etc" only to have that time come and go and hear a repeat of "I'll send you something tomorrow/next week/ etc" I think the longest I've gone without getting new edits to work on is maybe 2 months. My guess is much of these delays simply come with the terrritory. But like Scope said, you should probably call her and tell her how frustrated you are and see what comes of that. I hope it works out!

mccardey
05-11-2011, 08:25 AM
What is important is that you should feel confident and comfortable discussing timing and things with your agent - you're a team, after all.

ETA: Just realised that that was a supremely unhelpful comment - I got distracted before I'd finished it. Sorry. I meant to say don't feel it's an either/or you-answer-me-this-week-or-I-dump-you thing. I'd nudge again and mention the concerns about the editor losing interest. If she's a good agent she will be busy, but she'll also be wanting to maximise your chances. Good luck!

Whimsigirl
05-11-2011, 08:29 AM
I would think that your agent would prioritize your ms over other clients' since an editor's expressed interest. Seems odd to me that she's taking such a long time to get back to you.

I've been spoiled, but the longest time my agent's taken to respond to me is 2-3 weeks. I would definitely try calling/emailing her, but be nice about it, and possibly try to leverage the editor's interest -- you certainly don't want to keep an editor waiting forever...

rugcat
05-11-2011, 08:32 AM
That is a long time, but successful agents can get overwhelmed.

My agent has always been incredibly responsive, and has worked on and sold four books with me.

But she hasn't had time to even look at the last thing I sent her. Granted, it's only been a month, but that's unusual for her. I know her well enough to ask what's up, and got a very short email saying basically,"Busy!"

She hasn't given up on me. She hasn't pushed me aside. (Well, maybe a little, some of her other clients have sold a lot more books than I have.)

But that's how it goes. It's not personal, and if I sold as many books as Steven King, any agent would get back to me asap on any and everything.

I'd let it ride a bit longer. I know it's hard, but I wouldn't take it as a sign she no longer cares about you. She's just really busy, i'd guess.

Corinne Duyvis
05-11-2011, 04:36 PM
Four months seems very long to me, given that there's an editor waiting and interested in your MS. If you'd submitted a brand-new book, that would be one thing, and it'd make sense that other clients would take precedence... but in this case I don't really get why you wouldn't be higher priority. I definitely think a talk is necessary.

I don't know how much my opinion counts, as I've only been agented since January and he's been lightning quick with edits, but... it's just pretty unusual for editors to nudge agents instead of the other way around.

PinkAmy
05-11-2011, 05:23 PM
What is important is that you should feel confident and comfortable discussing timing and things with your agent - you're a team, after all.

ETA: Just realised that that was a supremely unhelpful comment - I got distracted before I'd finished it. Sorry. I meant to say don't feel it's an either/or you-answer-me-this-week-or-I-dump-you thing. I'd nudge again and mention the concerns about the editor losing interest. If she's a good agent she will be busy, but she'll also be wanting to maximise your chances. Good luck!
I don't think this is unhelpful at all.
You need to be able to communicate with your agent and to feel comfortable doing so. That's hard, because you're new to writing/publishing and you don't know what to expect and what the norm is. I'm the most impatient person I've ever met, but I've learned that my priority (having everything done yesterday) isn't necessarily everyone else's priority.
Keep in mind that your busy agent doesn't have time to waste. She wouldn't have worked with you for a year, then signed you, if she didn't intend to see your project through publication.
I think McCardey has a good idea about voicing your concerns, try to set up a time to take, so much gets lost in email. Then you can find out her expectations for a time line so you can make sure you're both on the same page.

YAFuelsMySoul
05-11-2011, 05:57 PM
Thanks all for your thoughtful advice. I agree that it's time to step up and have a talk (of course a very nice one) about expectations. I guess I knew I'd had to do that all along but it's so hard to open that door of communication when in the back of my head I'm thinking 'shut up and be grateful someone is repping you at all!'. But the truth is, I don't quite feel like I'm being repped anymore, I feel like I'm being avoided. And the fact that there's an editor out there that actually wants to read my revisions makes it all the more surreal and scary to confront.

The hard lesson here is learning how to take your career into your own hands and take the risks of perhaps losing an agent that you worked so hard to find in order to take control of your writing's future. If that's one thing we writers need to learn (at least this one!) is how to get over the fear of rejection AFTER you've been accepted.

Don't know if that makes sense. But during my day job I'll fight to the bitter end for my beliefs and my craft and vision. And at home I'm a crazy mama who will stop at nothing to make sure my kids' bests interests are being protected. Now, I just have to learn how to do that for my self and my writing.

Thank you all again, I no longer feel crazy, just super nervous about contacting my agent and broaching all of this. Anyone want to be a beta reader for THAT email?? (only half joking here!)

cate townsend
05-11-2011, 08:38 PM
YA-I noticed you're new here and forgot to say welcome! in my last post. You came to the right place in finding a lot of helpful advice and support from your fellow writers. I understand your feelings about approaching your agent; I think all of us here who are repped felt at one time or another hesitation in contacting our agent about various matters. You're not alone! I am always somewhat nervous in contacting my agent, even though we've been trading edits for a year.

I'd be happy to take a look at your draft email to her. Just PM me.

JanetO
05-11-2011, 10:33 PM
How many editorial submissions did the manuscript get? And how extensive were the editor's suggested changes? Did the agent discuss with you how likely it was the editor would take the book if the changes were made? (How well does she know the editor?) These answers may suggest how enthusiastic the agent remains about selling the book.

DerekJager
05-11-2011, 11:12 PM
"The one editor who was interested is from one of the big six houses. I am very honored and grateful to have gotten her notes, which i agreed with on most levels and worked hard to revise."
----


A bit late to the party, but do you have a contract with the editor at the publishing house? My best friend is the CEO of one of the major publishing houses and he said no editor (of his) would waste time on an unsigned manuscript.

If you have a signed contract, then you have a scheduled deadline with that editor/that house.

If you do NOT have a signed contract, why are you wasting time making edits for that particular editor? (And, again, why is he/she wasting time with an unsigned author?) All the edits you are making for this editor are purely for his/her preference, something another editor may disagree with.

Anyway, good luck regardless!

Corinne Duyvis
05-11-2011, 11:52 PM
How many editorial submissions did the manuscript get? And how extensive were the editor's suggested changes? Did the agent discuss with you how likely it was the editor would take the book if the changes were made? (How well does she know the editor?) These answers may suggest how enthusiastic the agent remains about selling the book.

If the agent is no longer enthusiastic about the book, though, they should say so, instead of stringing along both author and editor.


If you do NOT have a signed contract, why are you wasting time making edits for that particular editor? (And, again, why is he/she wasting time with an unsigned author?) All the edits you are making for this editor are purely for his/her preference, something another editor may disagree with.

I don't think this is wasting time. Editors requesting changes to a manuscript they're interested in but isn't quite there yet is fairly common -- same with agents requesting manuscripts without offering a contract. If the author doesn't like what the edits do to their MS, they don't *have* to do them.

And a lot of the time -- though not nearly always -- it does lead to a contract. (This happened to a friend of mine.)

Jamesaritchie
05-12-2011, 02:15 AM
Darned if I know. The last thing on earth I'd ever do would be allow an agent to ask for revisions, tell me what a manuscript needs or doesn't need,or anything else along these lines.

mccardey
05-12-2011, 02:36 AM
Darned if I know. The last thing on earth I'd ever do would be allow an agent to ask for revisions, tell me what a manuscript needs or doesn't need,or anything else along these lines.

Works for you, James. On the other hand, my agent goes the extra mile quite happily and I've been very grateful for the input. So it can go either way. Probably depends on the agent's skill sets.

Giant Baby
05-12-2011, 03:40 AM
Darned if I know. The last thing on earth I'd ever do would be allow an agent to ask for revisions, tell me what a manuscript needs or doesn't need,or anything else along these lines.

A comment that shares your perspective, is framed as such, and is not a sweeping pronouncement about the foolishness of writers who DO accept editorial input from their agents? I don't share your perspective, James, but I don't actually want to clock this post with a frying pan. That's kinda uplifting.

jacket
05-12-2011, 04:10 AM
Darned if I know. The last thing on earth I'd ever do would be allow an agent to ask for revisions, tell me what a manuscript needs or doesn't need,or anything else along these lines.

You've posted a similar comment elsewhere and I'm not sure what your point is in doing so. I personally can't ever imagine being so self assured as to assume I'm beyond the feedback of others. I don't see it as "allowing" my agent to ask for revisions; I'm grateful she's taking the time and effort to help me make improvements.

Becca C.
05-12-2011, 04:30 AM
A comment that shares your perspective, is framed as such, and is not a sweeping pronouncement about the foolishness of writers who DO accept editorial input from their agents? I don't share your perspective, James, but I don't actually want to clock this post with a frying pan. That's kinda uplifting.

Yeah, it's much better than calling us all "damned fools" :)

scope
05-12-2011, 08:00 AM
Darned if I know. The last thing on earth I'd ever do would be allow an agent to ask for revisions, tell me what a manuscript needs or doesn't need,or anything else along these lines.

James,

Given your strong position re editorial suggestions and revisions from agents and I assume editors, I imagine you have had books published (not self-published) based only upon the way you want them to be. Perhaps I'm wrong and you have yet to be publsihed, but I have no way of knowing that.

The fact that I take any and all suggestions and advice I can get but ultimately make the decision what, if anything, to change is not my the point. What I am curious about is how you get away with this if and when editors strongly suggest you revise something, change something, or whatever.

YAFuelsMySoul
05-12-2011, 04:31 PM
"The one editor who was interested is from one of the big six houses. I am very honored and grateful to have gotten her notes, which i agreed with on most levels and worked hard to revise."
----


A bit late to the party, but do you have a contract with the editor at the publishing house? My best friend is the CEO of one of the major publishing houses and he said no editor (of his) would waste time on an unsigned manuscript.

If you have a signed contract, then you have a scheduled deadline with that editor/that house.

If you do NOT have a signed contract, why are you wasting time making edits for that particular editor? (And, again, why is he/she wasting time with an unsigned author?) All the edits you are making for this editor are purely for his/her preference, something another editor may disagree with.

Anyway, good luck regardless!
I had it submitted to 8 editors. All came back with very similar feedback. Too much A and not enough Y, for a YA mystery. I agreed, especially since the ms started as adult and still had artifacts of that in there. The last editor made the same comment but wanted to see a revised version. I would have made these changes regardless of whether there was interest in a revision from any of them because I agree that all common themes in the comments were spot on. anyway, my orgina post was about time, not the single editor issue or whether or not I am a weak writer for allowing an agent or editor I am not signed with to suggest revisions. As others have said I'm honored to have folks take such an interest in the success of my book, especially an agent or editor. But again, as I noted at the beginning, can I assume that interest has waned if after 4 months of waiting -- still no notes...

DerekJager
05-12-2011, 04:59 PM
Hi YAFuels--

Thanks for a further explanation.

Yes, if you're getting the same feedback from multiple sources--and in your gut you agree--than I, too, would make the changes.

And if an editor asked for changes with the possibility of a contract, I'd agree to one chapter, but not the entire manuscript. Like I posted, the changes requested would only be to his/her taste.

And I hope my response didn't make you think I was implying you were a "weak writer" by taking the suggestions of an agent/editor. If so, I apologize since that wasn't my intention at all. I was simply communicating what I know--and what my CEO publishing friend confirmed--that an editor at a publishing house who was spending any time/significant time with an unsigned author, offering editorial suggestions, isn't a good thing since he/she is basically NOT working on projects the publishing house is paying him/her for.

That was my friend's concern--"I'm paying my editors to work on the stack of manuscripts we've paid for, the monies that are paying their salaries. If they have free time to spend editing manuscripts we've not purchased, I would not be pleased."

So I know you'll use your best judgment and make the changes that you know are right to make. Once a signed contract is in hand, that's the only time I would make significant changes that my editor requests since I know the manuscript is firmly on the way to publication and I won't be wasting my time.

At any rate, best of luck!

JanetO
05-12-2011, 05:38 PM
I'm not familiar with the YA market (my area is literary fiction) but it seems like there should be more than eight publishing houses you could have your manuscript sent to.

But at this point, I'd go ahead and make the changes you and the other editors have identified. These will likely match those of the agent, if she ever gets back to you. Some agents just aren't that good with editorial suggestions, and maybe she'd just be happy to receive a revised manuscript from you.

If this one editor is really the last chance for publication by a big house, and the agent has indeed lost interest, you could simply contact the editor yourself. But either way, I think getting started on the revisions is the best thing to do, rather than waiting.

YAFuelsMySoul
05-12-2011, 06:46 PM
Derek- no offense taken. Was actually alluding to another poster that questioned even making changes to own's MS based on agent's feedback. Agree with you and your friend. Though I don't think the read of my ms and the resulting notes were too big of an effort on the editor's part.

JanetO, the revision is already done. That is what is with my agent now. My revised ms (based on the editor's comments). So, basically, I've been waiting for 4 months for the agent's notes based on the revision. Twiddling my thumbs, wondering if this revised ms will ever get back into the editor's hands. My agent said she started to read it and thought based on reading about half that there would need to be a bit more work on it before it was sent back to the edit. Which is fine, I'm game. As long as I agree with the scope of work. But until I get her feedback there's nothing else I can do. Well, except for focus on my other books.

Anyway, thanks all for your great feedback. And Cate thanks for the welcome!!! Will definitely DM you!

Winterturn
05-13-2011, 10:53 PM
I don't have an agent myself, so my opinion is based on no personal experience whatsoever. Although I know some writers don't want agents to suggest edits for their work, I wouldn't object to this myself. But it seems to me once the manuscript has gone to an editor, who themselves have come back with suggestions, the agent should get out of the way. I would be concerned (on top of the delay the agent is causing in your ms getting back to the editor) that you've already responded to the editor's changes, and now the agent is going to make more suggestions based on what she thinks the editor wanted. What if the agent is wrong? What if your current manuscript is closer to what the editor wanted than another revision based on further suggestions by the agent?

Undercover
05-13-2011, 11:04 PM
I hate to say it but it seems like your agent lost interest somewhat. It's their job to do this for you, especially if an editor is interested...you would think they would work even harder at that point.

Don't lose hope though, but do say something to your agent about how you feel. I was doing the same thing on revisions. But since she usually gets back to me within a week, I know in my heart she is truly working hard on getting it out there.

Good Luck to you!

CAWriter
05-16-2011, 10:21 AM
I am generally long-suffering and patient to a fault (I took a personality test that said so), but I did once fire an agent who didn't submit my (already re-worked by his input) proposals to publishers I'd met who requested them.

Your situation is treading close to that territory. I think any time a publisher's representative has requested something, there should be a sense of urgency about getting it to them. Lack of interest or whatever you want to call it, I think your agent is falling down on the job. She should be able to tell you in a phone call where you're still missing it; you shouldn't have to wait for her to give you detailed revision suggestions.

If I were you, I'd be pretty hacked about missing a window with an editor because my agent had other priorities. I don't know that I'd fire my agent quite yet; I think I'd prod for submission by the end of the month, either as-is or get me those suggestions. Following that, I'd decide what to do for the future.

Good luck!