Guest post by my new client M-E Girard:
You’ve written a stellar manuscript and polished it like crazy. Then, you do your agent-related homework: You compose an eye-catching query letter; you spend hours researching agents you think would be a great fit; then you stalk them until you find some good stuff to insert in your query. All that can become a full-time job. You’re told that finding an agent who will even request a partial is hard, and that you will be rejected. But you must get there so you get lost in the chase.
But here’s the thing: What happens after an agent requests your full, offers to represent you, and then receives your signed contract?
My name is M-E Girard and although I’m a nobody, in my little world, I have arrived, people. I have signed with a literary agent (which is why I’ve been invited to post on her blog) and it was as earth-shattering as I had anticipated it would be. At the very end of The Call, I remember Linda said something like, “Now this is the part of publishing that’s called Hurry Up and Wait.” And I knew this. Because I did my homework.
Except, there are no books on what happens after the contract is signed and your new agent has your manuscript stacked among the other fifty she’s also representing. Or maybe there are books on the subject, but I was way too busy obsessing over how to get an agent that I never even considered that I might actually get one. So, here I am, a few months in and I pass the time by writing a lot. And then it happens: I finish another manuscript! I’m not going to bother my agent with this; she’s just gotten my first manuscript on her desk and I’m a nobody, so no one’s waiting for my highly-anticipated second effort. So, I just carry on with my homework then. I write a query letter. Not a real query, but a partial, just as an exercise. Just so I can articulate what my new novel’s about—you know, sound smart and clever, and whatnot. And I tweet that I’ve written a one-sentence pitch, and a synopsis. And then I get a tweet back from Linda…
M-E: “Crap, I should’ve called it a ‘mock’ query. It’s an exercise and it was a good one! Found my one-sentence pitch out of it. ”
Linda: “Not that you have to pitch it because YOU ALREADY HAVE AN AGENT! *smacks hand to own face*”
M-E: “But if you were like ‘What’s it about?’ and I answered with ‘Uhhhh…wanna read it?’ Can I do that now? Just go ‘Read please.’
Linda: “Actually, yes. You can say, ‘This is my new manuscript. Can you read it?’ And I will say yes. #HowLuckyAreYou”
To my fellow newly-agented newbies: Did you know this is how it works?
Here’s how it is on my end: I don’t want to seem overly eager, but behind the scenes, I want to be super prepared. I want to be able to say, “Look at how efficient I am! Aren’t I the best client ever?” I don’t want to be the annoying newbie writer who emails her new agent every other day with questions when I know she’s busy doing a trillion other things—one of them being a line-edit on my own manuscript, which I’m still super grateful she’s doing, because I’m still basking in the afterglow of having signed with the agent I stalked and hoped I’d get!
It boils down to this: I did not get any orientation or training for this part. I was too focused on getting here that I never ever considered what happens next, what happens between the literary representation contract signing and the publication of the first book (‘cause we must think big, us newbies). I mean, should I send her my new manuscript right away, in case that one’s an easier sell than the first one? Or should I wait until the first one went through the process?
Really, the big question is: What does my agent expect from me? I came into this figuring she’d expect two major things from me: 1) To continually write amazing novels that will make us both ridiculously rich; and 2) To not be annoying.
There must be more…
Instead of composing “mock” query-ish letters for my new manuscripts, I could type “What happens after you sign with a literary agent?” in Google and this could be my new homework! Except you know what might be even better? If my agent stepped up and wrote us all a little something about what happens next and what’s expected from us newly-agented newbs…
So… Tune in next time when I will indeed address a bit of what’s expected after you’ve nabbed an agent! And thanks for your guest post M-E!