Enthusiasm after eight months in the trenches

Miss Snark,

I have a question. I'm represented by an agent, whom I like personally. He's pleasant and nice to talk to and had some really good suggestions about edits to my book.

The book in question has been on the market for over eight months now, has gone to at least seven editors and has recently gotten one rejection letter. I didn't bother my agent for months after the book was sent to the editors, he'd said be patient, but I also didn't hear from him much. On average, once every four months.

When I ask, he tells me to be patient, but doesn't give specifics. I'm starting to get frustrated. I also know from several sources, the genre I write in is in a slump right now, and editors are buying very few new authors. But not sure if I should continue to be patient, or be concerned that my agent has lost enthusiasm for my book.

Would greatly appreciate your advice.

It's your agent's job to be enthusiastic about your book. It's not in the contract or anything but it's still part of the job.

It's also part of your agent's job to give you specifics when you ask. Are you asking? This isn't my strong suit either but when a client asks, I send them my notes and I usually call them to go over the details. Any time they ask, I give them the info. Unless they ask, I tend to forget. Miss Snark does not hold this up as the model of how things should be, but rather how things are...and therein of course much ado.

There are some novels that don't sell. Eight months is about the time to start saying "what should we do if this doesn't sell". If he's lost enthusiasm for you/the book/life/poodles this is when you'll find out. Ask him. If he splutters around, ask again. This is your life. Take charge of it.


Anonymous said...

Doesn't an agent want the author to be writing the next book, and hopefully the earlier book will sell at some future time when the "market catches up?" (or the writer's work catches on)

What else can an agent suggest if after his best efforts a book doesn't sell?

Anonymous said...

What else can an agent suggest other than the author work on the next book, and hopefully book #1 will sell afterwards?

And is there an average number of rejections in that time period that would diminish an agent's enthusiasm about the selling of the book?

C.H. said...

Dear Miss Snark,

What if we authors stipulate in our contracts that we expect updates every three months detailing where the book has gone, where it's going, and the results? Would you, as an Agent, be incensed by such a semi-binding condition, even if it was suggested ever so politely? Or is that a perfectly reasonable request?

Love, Chris

Glenda Larke said...

Every time this subject crops up, I pop out of the woodwork to mention that it took my agent (bless her) 13 years to sell my first book. She never gave up on me, sold another later book in the meantime - and has now sold seven books of mine.

Eight months? That's nothing! It took her 8 years to make my first sale!

Termagant 2 said...

I'd suggest more frequent contact. If he says, "Be patient," I'd remind him that I AM patient...for 8 months and one rejection. Have you asked him whether he's made polite "status of the project" calls to any of the other pubs to whom he sent this?

My ex-agent sent a book to several publishers. We heard back from about 50%. The others claimed they lost the book. I no longer know whom or what to believe, so I have to assume they're telling the truth. Either way, she never sent it back to them or followed through. This is just one reason we're no longer in association.

And yes, I'd be hard at work on the next book.