I finally finally made a dent in the queries that hit my inbox in January, when I was open to submissions for a short window of time. It is intense. There are a lot. I’m still getting through them, and reading some full manuscript requests as well. And I still have to get through many of the Open Call to Muslim Writers queries. I don’t have the time, sadly, to go into specifics of why I’m passing on individual manuscripts. It would take so much time to do that. My first priority is taking care of the clients I already have. After that I have room in my brain and my day for looking for new clients.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking about near misses… about manuscripts that I almost want to represent. Sometimes I pass on a project that seems like it would be perfect for me. Maybe it’s poignant and odd and funny and smart. Maybe it’s super queer. Maybe it’s beautiful. Maybe it’s ridiculous in just the right way. And it must must must be well written. But then I pass anyway.
I can hear you, right now. You’re saying, “Oh my God! Why?! Why would you do that?! Is it my manuscript you’re talking about? I want an agent!!!!” Just sit down. You’ll be ok. Listen to me. Take a breath.
Here’s how it is: I already have clients. I love my clients. I work really hard for my clients. I have a small client list because I know that’s what I can handle. My clients are at many different stages of their writing careers. Some of them have been with me for years and we haven’t sold anything yet. I say yet because I’m pretty sure we will. They are talented writers. I’ll stick by them if they stick by me.
But I do take on new clients. What makes me do it? What has me make room for them, squeeze another writer in? Well, when I read a manuscript that feels essential, like I must have this. Must! When I feel like I’d fight other agents (I hate fighting other agents). When I’ll put everything aside for it (at least for a moment). When reading it sets up a humming in my body. When I start thinking about editors I’d like to send it to. That’s when I make an offer of representation.
So to answer the question, “Why did you pass on my query?” That’s why. Because that’s what I’m looking for and it’s not easy to find. It’s why I pass on most things, and why I don’t often ask to see full manuscripts. Because if I don’t feel like there’s a magical imperative to me having it? Then I’m not the right agent for you. And I know that’s disappointing, but that’s the truth.