Monday, December 30, 2013
Sometimes Saying No Is Not Easy
Let me first say that I love being an agent. There are just so many exciting and fun things that come with this job. I get to work with authors who are passionate about what they do. I get to read great books. I get to guide authors on a path toward something they have probably wanted to do all their life. This is awesome! But, with those great things, there are also some negatives, and I honestly have to say, sometimes, the worst is telling people the truth about their story.
I received an email a while ago from an author wanting to know which way to turn with her writing. From the the email, it was clear this person loved every ounce of what she did as an author. You could hear it in the words as she described the time and energy she had put into the story. She had taken writing classes, she was working with a great critique/writing group. Everything was in place.
As she went on with her email, she had noted that several of her mentors (prior instructors as well as other writers) had really thought the writing was great and the premise of the story was fantastic. She should publish it! This is a great feeling as a writer when everyone around you loves what you are doing.
Apparently she had been doing her research and knew that one of the first steps was to find other authors or publishers that had her same voice. Again, awesome advice and she was doing just what I would have recommended. But here is where it falls apart. She noted that there were simply no other authors out there using this specific stylistic approach she had taken. She was simply struggling to find a place where her writing would fit. What was my advice.
The tough part here is that she was right. Because of the structural/stylistic approach she had used, there was no place for the story. The tough part for me is to tell her that. As I wrote that email back to her, I felt as if I were popping the air out of all the balloons that kept her soaring with her writing. In truth, her writing was probably really good. There were probably a lot of things in that writing that worked really well. But if we can't sell it (agents to editors or editors to readers) then we have to say no.
When I see authors in situations like these, I always go back to the same comment I have made time and time again here on this blog. Plot those stories out. Think it through before you put all of that time and energy into it. Now I don't know if that would have helped here. Maybe this is a story that sounds good but just can't be written. Who knows.
If you are a writer out there who has faced this same situation, know that you are not alone. There are others who have struggled too. But also know that there are indeed people out there that want you to succeed and will do whatever they can to help you.