Newly-Agented Newbies: So Now What Happens?!

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…

Linda: “Clarification: You’re NOT writing a query BECAUSE YOU ALREADY HAVE AN AGENT!”


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. :D”

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!



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21 responses to “Newly-Agented Newbies: So Now What Happens?!

  1. Thanks ME for starting this discussion. Like you, I’ve been looking around the internet for information on what happens at this stage of the process and found very little information about it. I do however notice that people are beginning to open up to share their personal journeys online. Here’s hoping that more will step forward to give newbies a heads up of what to expect.

  2. So awesome! Thanks for sharing & congrats M-E!

  3. Pingback: What to Expect When You Finally Get an Agent (or who wins most annoying client award) | The Blabbermouth – Linda P. Epstein

  4. YAY FOR M-E! I am so PROUD of you, girl!!!!!
    Now, will you please ask Linda if she’ll be MY agent too???

    • You know, I’ve made some full requests for fellow writers’ manuscripts over Twitter. I’m not an agent but still, they all appreciated it. So, Cathy: This is me requesting your full. 😉

  5. Reblogged this on Whimsically Yours and commented:
    What happens when you’re a newly agented writer??? Read this to find out more 🙂

  6. I’m still at the querying stage but it’s always good to hear from a newbie agented writer, thanks for the great post & Congrats!!!

  7. In my defense, I swear I read somewhere that someone recommended writing query-like letters in order to be able to articulate what the novel is about and also to give your agents stuff to pick from when she’s trying to sell the book. Maybe I made it up… I like making stuff up.

    But, if Linda hadn’t intercepted my tweet about it, I probably would’ve had six manuscripts sitting here ready to go with these “query letters” waiting, and I wouldn’t have emailed her about it just to not be annoying. 😛

    I just figured you can’t jump ahead with projects. Like you need to let one run its course before you present another one.

    • Erik Larson

      I like to write a query-like pitch when I start a new project so I can work out what I think will be compelling about it. If I can’t pitch it to myself, then I know I’ve got a problem.

  8. I had no idea there was a contest for Most Annoying Client. I’ll bet I could make a run at the title too.

  9. Congrats, M-E! I love the fact that you are an over-eager-newbie… now I will stalk you to see how all this newbieness works out for you! Is it possible, that I’m just as excited as you are? Yes, it definitely is. We should get together for some major cake eating to celebrate your signing with Linda!

    I loved your witty post by the way… now I can say I know someone “who is slightly cool”! ;P

  10. Congrats ME! Sounds like you have a great agent. For the record, I would have made the same mistake if I had an agent.
    Well off to search the haystack one more time. Maybe this time.
    Great post.

  11. Congrats for having Linda as your agent. The publishing industry is very competitive, so just having an agent is a success. Only Linda’s answers to your quetsions are relevant, but we can offer answers as well. An agent submits your novels to a few or many publishers. If you second novel is easier to sell, then surely the agent will be happy to focus on selling it first, or at least submit it to different publishers, not the same one she submits your first novel. An agent’s primary job is to monetize your novels for the benfits of both of you. So it’s best if you can write a mega best seller. Dosn’t have to be amazing. Even just one will do. No harm in being annoying if you ask many questions that can help you to deliver her a great novel. And again, best wishes for both of you, and hoping to see you reading your published novel in a book event in my area, which is close to yours.

    • Thank you. 🙂 And thanks for the info. I like how you said “No harm in being annoying if you ask many questions that can help you to deliver her a great novel.” Good way to put it.

  12. Thanks, guys.
    You know, at first I felt a little (a lot) foolish for flashing my over-eager-newbiness, but now, I’m like, “Whatever! I got to write a blog about it and now I’m slightly cool.”
    I am *so* looking forward to Linda’s response post. 😀

  13. Now this is one post that newly-agented and trying not to be annoying writers NEED to read. Good job, M-E.

    (Can’t wait to watch what happens next in the “most annoying” wars.)

  14. Thank you, M-E., your questions are my questions. For what it’s worth, you and R. L. will have to get in line behind me as I’ve aready claimed the Most Annoying Client spot.

  15. Great post! Looking forward to the follow-up. And hey, no worries, M-E–I am The Most Annoying Client. You’re welcome.