Monday, June 10, 2013

Question from a Writer - What If Your Agent Can't Sell Your Story?

If you get an agent but they don't sell your work, what next? Query more agents? Rewrite? Drop that book and do another?

This is a great question and one that agents do face a lot. In fact, I know that Rachelle Gardner has even commented about this one on her blog.

One thing to start with is that having an agent IS NOT a guarantee that you will be published. The agent does get you opportunities that you would not normally have if you are un-agented, but there are simply no promises.

There will be a lot of times when an agent completely falls for a project and does see the potential in it, but, in the end, if the publishers don't see it, if there isn't a place for it at that time in the publishing world, it may not get published. We have to remember all of the other variables that come into play when it comes to getting that book published. Sometimes it is simply a matter of timing. Let me give you an example of this one.

I have one author who has this fantastic multi-cultural women's fiction. I fell in love with it immediately and we marketed it like crazy. Editors liked it but the time and place just didn't work. We were down to one or two publishers left, and yes, we were both frustrated. But, the timing thing came into play. One of the editors who read it initially but passed on it moved to a new publisher. She called and now we were back in the game again. This doesn't happen so much, but it is a great example of being in the right place at the right time.

Now, when we look at your question, you have several issues to consider.

First of all, the odds are you are working with your agent to develop new projects or to really look at the rejections coming in. For most of us, we don't fire your project off to EVERY publisher out there at one time. We start with one initial group and look for comments and feedback. If we see a lot of comments saying the same thing, then we will likely go back to a revision process. If it is a matter of just not being a right fit, then revision isn't going to fix the problem. We just hold on to it and move on.

Secondly, the odds are that you do have other projects you are working on. Again, this is an issue of working with your agent to find the best course of action for your writing career. This is that "career building" element writers speak of. You never want to have one project and not do anything until that first book sells. Keep writing!

Finally, it would be a shame if you put "all of your eggs in one basket" with that single project. It might simply be the way you worded the question, but it sounds like you are saying that a failure with one project would cause you to jump ship with one agent and move on. Hopefully this isn't the case.

Working with an agent is really like a marriage. We know there will be tough times and good times. We work through those issues together.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Scott! Unfortunately, my agent released me after that. The publishers rejected my project because I was an unpublished author or it did not fit their line at this time. So do I pursue another agent with the same project? And wouldn't I need to tell them that it had been previously rejected and by whom?