Friday, September 16, 2011

We Don't Have To Like Everything: We can reject it because we don't like it

As agents we frequently will receive letters back from authors we have rejected complaining of short-sightedness, or an unwillingness to be open to new projects. Now, while these authors, in my humble opinion, have other issues to deal with besides their writing, they are missing an important point.

Being an agent is more about simply selling books. We have to really love a project to want to represent it. We don't simply look at stories and say "this is marketable and I can make money." We have to have a connection to it. This is that human nature element that we are always talking about in publishing. Sometimes, a project will come across our desk and it simply doesn't connect with us. It isn't because the synopsis was messed up. It isn't because the opening chapter didn't have a hook. It is simply because we didn't like it.

In many ways, this is the same response parents will give to kids "because I said so." there was that gut instinct that didn't resonate with us.

Does this mean the story will not sell or won't be a big success? Absolutely not! It just meant as an agent, I will be missing out on all the success later on. But remember, as agents, we work with writers and not just stories.



  1. As a querying author, I wouldn't want you to represent my project unless I knew you loved it. No way you'd be able to break through all the barriers and make an awesome sale unless you were passionate about it.

    Keep on keepin' on, and thanks for sharing this with us.

  2. I agree with Leigh Ann. An agent is your advocate, and if your advocate doesn't love your work they're going to have a hard time making someone else love it.

  3. Great post! Finding an agent is kind of like dating in that aspect. If you don't feel passionately about someone, don't make the commitment. If you, as an agent take on a project that you only feel luke warm about, you're selling yourself short (because you could have filled that spot with your dream author) and you're selling your client, who could have gone and found the absolute perfect agent who's madly in love with everything she writes, short. Thanks for all your posts!

  4. Well, of course. It'd be silly to expect you to read over and over again, and then try to sell, something you didn't care for. As a reader, I don't like every book I'm presented, even if I can recognize that it's well-written. I certainly don't recommend those books to others. I'm not passionate about them, and it'd be silly to expect you to flip your passion switch too just because a little money's involved. Besides, it's pretty likely you can find stuff to sell that you actually do like.

  5. I completely agree with Leigh. Well said.

  6. Thanks for the nice reminder of the human element behind the "thanks, but no thanks" response we get. As much as writers dislike getting those disappointing emails from queried agents, we, and the agents, have to be coming from the same place. I loved the dating analogy. Perfect.

  7. Thank for the incisive post. You are the first agent whose blog I've ever followed and your advice is concise and pointed. I like that.