PART TWO (of a multi-part blog post)
What happens if after I’ve signed a client, I’m not so excited about their follow up manuscript? How do I handle this?
Well, it’s funny you should ask. This just happened for the first time. My client’s debut novel is out on submission, (and it’s fantastic, by the way) and she sent me her next manuscript to read. I read a chunk of it and it just wasn’t doing it for me. Oh Em Gee. What do I do?! Well, the first thing I did was check in with some other people. Trusted readers. Good critiquers. People who aren’t going to blow smoke up my skirt. I gave them both the first 20 pages. The reports I got back were kind of in line with my own thinking though. Ok. Now what?
I called my client and we discussed some of the things that I’d been thinking and that the readers had pointed out. She wanted to go back and revise to see if that would make a difference. I’m ok with that. She’s a great writer. A professional. Perhaps she can work her writerly magic onto this manuscript and my opinion will change!
She revised it and then sent it back to me and when I finally had the chance to read it (with my fingers crossed and high hopes) I went at it with an open mind. I asked myself: Is this marketable? Who would I sell this to? What’s the motivating idea here, and how would I talk about this story to an editor? Who would want to read this? Is this well written? If this came into my slush pile would I want to represent it?
Sadly, I really didn’t feel this story would do well out in the world, for a variety of reasons. I had another conversation with my client (who I adore, by the way) and I told her I don’t think the story’s marketable and that I feel she should put it aside and work on something else. My heart broke a little bit, because who wants to tell someone that? But on the other hand, I know that if I think that, editors probably will, too. You see, I know the good work this writer can do. That’s why I picked her as a client. And this manuscript wasn’t that.
So, that’s how I handle this situation. I also got some support and advice from my boss about how to diplomatically do what I knew was the right thing (thank goodness I have a great boss, by the way). I don’t know how other agents handle this. I hope they’re honest with their clients. And although it’s an uncomfortable conversation to have with a client, I know that it’s also just good business.
So now you’re probably asking yourself if I realize that I’ve done a weird thing with all of those asides. Well I do know about my asides (I’m not stupid, by the way).