Hi Miss Snark,
I have a literary agent from a reputable agency interested in my work, but now that I have his attention, it been called to mine that everything I've been doing up to this point has been totally wrong.
I only contacted one agent. I chose him because his submission guidelines were kind of funny. Then I sent him my website, which he said was cute but what was he supposed to do with it? I sent him some work and he wrote back to say send him more work when it had more "meat" to it.
So a few months later I sent more, and he asked for meat, and a few months later I sent more, and he said, "Hey, I need meat", and I tried to explain that there was meat. I'm pretty sure he was giving me a brush-off, but was really nice about it because I seemed a little crazy.
I was about to send him new stuff from my website, but I actually stopped and thought about what he'd been writing to me. He was right--my work was a fluffy salad. I did more personal and meatier work and when I was done I sent him a significant number of pages.
He emailed me back less than a week later, very excited about the new work. He used the word "love" five times (once, four times in a row). After he emailed I started asking my writer friends if that was a good thing and if they'd ever heard of his agency and there was a bunch of freaking out.
So apparently I've stepped into something really big. Besides continuing to work on the book, what do I do? Should I keep sending him clumps of pages whenever I've finished them? I've seen no protocol for this situation because I did everything all wrong to begin with. I'm really feeling the weight of my own ignorance.
This is an excellent question and I'm glad you asked because it gives me a good example of why "follow the rules" and "follow the directions" is good advice, but not carved in stone.
You've done everything RIGHT: you've accomplished the goal of getting the attention of an agent who responds positively to your work. If you did it in a weird and unusual way, ok. It's not against the law.
Do I advise people to do things in weird ways? No. Why? Those weirdnesses are the exception to the rule. For every person like you who connects there will be hundreds if not thousands who will not.
Some of the comments trails on previous posts about “do you need an agent” had postings from people who fit in this category. They did something off beat and it worked. Great, more power to them. There is always the exception to the rule.
BUT, the point of this blog and my ranting is NOT to encourage you to try and squeeze into the exception, the .05% who break the rules and find happiness anyway. My goal is to familiarize you with how the world of publishing works, or at least my perspective on it, so you you can be one of the 10% who finds happiness through normal channels.
So, try not to fret. You're not doing anything wrong. Just work. You've clearly got boatloads of talent because this agent didn't send you packing. Ask him what he wants to see next. He’s clearly interested in your work. Unless you email every day with frivolous questions, you’re going to be ok. He WANTS you to stay in touch. You’d know pretty damn quick if he wasn’t interested. Trust that the agent will give you correct cues here. You both want the same thing: your huge and long lived fame and fortune.