Despite all of our efforts as agents, there will be times when we completely fall in love with a project and we can't get a publisher to buy into the project. We see the future of the project. We believe in it. Heck, the publisher might even love it, but in the end, the market might not be right for it.
Surprisingly, this happens a lot more than we would want. But it is the reality of this business.
I like to bring this up because I do believe there is a belief that many authors have, that if they have an agent, their book will sell. I also see this a lot when authors decide that their prior agent "just couldn't get the job done." What we have to remember is that there are a lot of different variables that come into play when we market books. It isn't always just about the quality of the writing or who the author is.
So, what do we do when a story doesn't sell? There are several options.
- We can simply shelve the book and wait until the market shifts. In most cases, that shift might happen in a relatively short time. Shelving the book also gives us a chance to discuss the idea with editors in a casual setting. It is amazing how, sometimes, over drinks at a conference, an idea just "sounds great" and the book will sell that way.,
- Some authors will consider shifting to a digital market, or even shifting to a self-publishing model. Although this sounds like a quick way to get that book out there to the readers, it might not be the best approach. If you don't have a great digital track record, or the book is really not that strong right now, it might tie the book up and when the right time shows up, there would be nothing we could do to help it.\