Monday, May 10, 2010

What if the book is just OK?

I was sitting with Miriam Kriss (one of the agents in Query Fest) during a panel once and she made a comment that really resonated with me. Her comment was simple - "If it is a maybe, then it is a no." (or something to that effect).

I am often asked by writers why we don't just take something that has some potential and see what happens. There are actually many reasons, and certainly each agent, they may have a different approach. For the most part, I do think the reasons are pretty similar, but for today, let me just tell you my approach.

#1 - I Only Want The Best Sure we can all say that, but my approach from the beginning has been to target only writers that really have it from the beginning. I am far from looking to the one hit wonders here. That means that if I don't see it from day 1, then forget it. That is why I really think the world of Ann Lethbridge and Bronwyn Scott. Both had it from the start and they haven't looked back.

#2 It Is A Time Factor Remember, this is an investment. I have to sign an author that really will do well in the long haul. Finding a story that is just average means that I spend countless hours working with a project "in the hopes" that it "might" be good.

#3 Why Isn't It Good Now? We all know that, in many cases, the first book of an author may not be the one that sells. Still as agents, we make money from the sales of books, not the writing of books. In other words, investing in an author over and over again isn't going to get us anywhere.

I know that many of you have mentioned to me before that all the benefits of an agent are fantastic but without one, you really struggle. That is, unfortunately, so true. But it is the way it is.

Maybe as you think about this, you will realize why I pound so hard on the idea of taking your time and making sure that first project is good.



  1. I am using my first novel as a learning tool. I am in my second year of writing it.
    I will plod on until I feel ready to submit. I am realistic enough to know I will not be published. I just want to know I achieved my goal.

    Interesting post, thanks.

  2. Excellent points. Thanks for your insight.