Third Time is a Charm!

I have a question and I couldn't think of a better place to go for a (brutally) honest answer, so if you think the other Snarklings would be interested I hope you might respond. I've seen the question come up a couple of times about when you give up on an unsold project, but I've not seen the question of when you give up on a client entirely.

Have you ever taken on several of a client's books before one of them sold? How many is too many?
My agent is shopping around two of my novels - one for a couple of years and the other for a few months - and neither has sold (yet, I still hold out hope especially for the later one).

This is a reputable agent who's represented successful authors and my manuscripts have gone to good editors at good houses that buy the types of books I've written, so the agent is not the problem, I am (or my books are).
Now I'm working on a third novel, but if the others remain unsold when it's finished, is it just horribly poor form to ask my agent to look at yet another one? I know the market is tough, but how long can I just to be a drain on the system, costing this agency money and bringing in none?

I know that's a judgment call for the particular agent and of course I will ask, but I'm interested in your opinion as well. Is my situation odd or does this sometimes happen? If I were your client, would you want me to just go away?
Thank you for your blog. I know you hear it all the time, but you do rock. Greetings to Killer Yapp. Do we sign these advice column style, like "Confused in Texas" or something?
Let's see, how about just,


You're right that the only person who can answer this question is your agent. I've sold second novels before firsts. I've never sold novels for clients I still have. I've cut loose clients I don't think I can sell. Each choice is absolutely individual. There is no blanket policy of "two books and get the hook" kind of a thing.

I have two novels and a memoir that I think are just great and I can't sell them to save my life. About every six months I call the three clients and say "I'm still paddling away here but nothing yet". They are kind enough not to lose faith despite the total lack of evidence I'll be able to make this happen.

So, don't worry about offending us or getting on our nerves. Writing good novels even if we can't sell them is never offensive or nerve wracking.

Killer Yapp says "yo, woof".

New Snark City

1 comment:

Travis said...

"I've never sold novels for clients I still have."

This reminds me of the SNL sketch along the lines of, "You can never stare at a nuclear blast too long."

I've never written manuscripts for agents I still have. Wait . . . are you my agent, Ms. Snark? Holy shit!