Getting an agent is hard. Getting a publisher can be harder. But what happens when you strike gold? These are my rambling thoughts on what changes…
Everything and nothing.
My process was a bit backwards. I received an offer from a publisher before I got my agent. Strange, but true. My first thought was ‘great, now I can get the agent I want, I already have a deal.’. The first thing I did was email my top three agents. It didn’t take long to get my first three rejections. Then I emailed my next three, got rejected, and continued the loop. So I’ll start by saying, even if you have a contract in hand, it’s still tough to find an agent.
The agent has to love what she reads. Yes, in my case the deal had been made. It’s an easy 15% for the agent, right? Wrong. A good agent isn’t going to go for the quick 15%. She’s going to look at your career. She’s going to want to represent you, your next book, your next next book. That means she has to believe not only in the novel you’ve already sold, but in you as a writer. And the only way to do that is to love what you’ve already written. So, if you do things backwards, like I did, the battle isn’t over. In the end, did I get my ‘dream agent’? Yes. And she wasn’t on my list. Did I get an agent that I love, that love’s my work? You betcha!
One of the weirdest changes for me, once I ‘got the call’ from my agent, was the reversal of what I was used to. Suddenly, there’s an agent that responds in a form other than rejection. In fact, she loves your work. So, what’s changed?
First, you have someone that believes in you and believes in your work. There is a sudden shift in the way things happen. Instead of you trying to sell what you have, the tables have turned. The agent is trying to sell herself to you. Let me tell you, that is a heady feeling.
Once you’ve agreed to work together, the agent now goes out and tries to sell your book. You don’t have to ‘knock on doors’ anymore. Heck, if you want, you don’t even have to see rejections anymore. Your job is to write the next book, and the one after that (on top of all the web site, twitter, facebook, etc stuff).
Some say the agent is like your employee, that she works for you. I think it’s more of a two way street than that. An agent is your partner. You work together to sell your book. Your agent may help you with ideas for the next novel, may help with plot points. But it’s still up to you to do the work.
So what changes? Everything and nothing.