So, a few posts ago, I asked, What do we do next?
After my first submission “went south”, that is, (not a phrase I had ever heard or known to exist before) and there were no offers?
Why, we went on sub again, of course. Luckily, I had another manuscript just waiting, all ready in the wings.
Well, not precisely ALL ready. Even though, if you’ve been reading this series with anywhere near the stun-eyed, gape-mouthed, staring-at-a-road-wreck, struck-by-the-pain puzzlement with which I am writing it, I had already received another offer of representation for this manuscript. From quite a fine agent, I might add, who though new and green at the time, would go on to do big things in the industry.
But the agent I was currently signed with didn’t consider it quite so great as all that.
Some agents are great editors and some are fantastic salespeople. Just like some are sharks and some are hand-holders for their clients. If you get very, very lucky, you find an agent who is all of the above.
I have been lucky in that all three of my agents (wait–there are more?? Yes, but that’s not for this post) have been wonderful editors who have played a significant role in improving my work.
The agent I was working with at the time of my first sub found all sorts of things wrong with my first novel, which we were about to send out second.
I know, confusing. Even when every sordid detail is soldered into your (um, my) brain.
So I sat down to revise it. Most agents, even when they’re great editors, tend to point out problems and issues in the book, but less so suggest fixes. I don’t know if that’s so that the work remains the author’s or just because suggesting fixes is hard. It’s still the thing I’m least good at when editing a manuscript for a writing buddy.
In fact, my husband, and TBEITW, and a brand new writing buddy I’ve recently made are some of the few people I know who can suggest really workable fixes.
I can still remember my agent asking, “Do you live in a small town?” because I had gotten the flavor of the setting a bit off.
But finally, I did whip the novel into such shape that my agent deemed it ready for prime time, and she sent it out.
On a Thursday.
On Monday she called me at home at 9:30 am and said, “[Grande Dame of Publishing X] just called from a city bus.” Pause. “She couldn’t go to sleep till she finished your novel last night.”