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Literary Agents: What I've Learned, Part Two

I should mention that before signing with my second agent, I had received an offer from a small publisher to publish my book. My agent said she’d negotiate the contract for me and guide me through the process. Great, I thought. Perfect.

A few months passed. Finally, I contacted her. I received an email from her saying she was sorry my book deal had fallen through.


Of course, I responded right away. Apparently, the publisher had gone out of business. My agent thought I knew. She apologized and told me she had great plans for me. Not to worry.

Two months later, I received a completely unexpected phone call from a publisher. She couldn’t reach my agent, she said, and wanted to present my book at her editorial meeting. Could I answer a few questions?

I was flummoxed. And nervous. I answered as best as I could, but I’m sure it wasn’t what she needed. I didn’t really know her publishing company or what she was looking for. I immediately emailed my agent with the news. When she responded, she was upset. It took several emails before we were okay. She told me she would take care of it.

But it was never the same.

The book deal didn't go through, and our relationship never thrived. After several months of soul-searching, I broke with her. I liked my agent, but we just couldn't get it together.

The point is, be careful. You have to be a good fit for each other.

If you want to be represented by an agent, here are a few recommendations:

  1. Research, research, research. Don’t say yes to the first agent who wants to represent you.

  2. Talk to your prospective agent on the phone. Don’t rush the process.

  3. Outline your expectations before signing. Make sure there’s rapport and understanding.

  4. Be patient, but check in. Don’t be afraid to voice your concerns.

  5. If you feel like something’s gone awry, it probably has. Trust your gut. It’s okay to start over.

I hope your experience is better than mine.

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