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September 23, 2010

A door opens - to my new agent

It's finally happened. I've just received an offer of representation and signed with an agent. I still can't quite believe it. One step closer to my dream of publication - and my mind is having trouble shifting gear.

At the beginning of the agent search, the power relationship (if it makes sense to think of it that way) between the writer and agent is very unequal, as most of the power lies with the agent. I'll admit I was very intimidated by the querying process. I've spent months sweating over my query letter. Writing and sending multiple drafts. Tweaking and revising my first few chapters.

Contact with an agent has been my Holy Grail; we all know how hard it is to get those elusive requests for partials, or better still, full manuscripts.  So I think it will take quite a while for my thinking to readjust. For me to accept that I have an industry professional on my team now, who is there to help and advise, and who believes in what I do enough to try and sell my work to publishers for me.

It's funny - I've only just realised how similar the jobs of literary agents and recruitment industry professionals are. Funny, because I've worked in Human Resources/recruitment myself for a few years.


The literary agent wades through dozens, if not hundreds of queries, looking for the few that spark their interest. Then they request a partial or full, then assess that, and finally make an offer of representation when they find a book they love - knowing that at the last minute (if they haven't requested an exclusive submission) another agent could gazump them.

The recruiter posts a job advertisement, then reads through the hundreds of CVs they're sent, looking for applicants with the right skill set and experience. They may do a phone interview, or ask the applicant to come in for a first interview. For those who do well in that interview, there may be a second interview, before the recruiter/employer makes the decision to offer the applicant a job - knowing that at the last minute, the applicant may accept another position elsewhere.

In both cases, rejecting huge numbers of queries/CVs which don't meet the required criteria is a fact of life. But it's equally true that in both industries these professionals are actively looking for the right queries/CVs. The right applicant or author. And when they find them, the relationship inevitably shifts to become more equal. After all, you're going to be working together, maybe for quite a while - and mutual respect is important if that is going to work.

Anyway, I'm still in shock and can't really think what else to put in this post, but I'm open to questions/comments from anyone out there who is approaching completion of their first project, or is already querying or on submission. If there's anything you'd like to know about this stage of the process - no matter how strange - then fire away!

When I was going through this stage I know talking to others always helped. I'll check all comments and answer whatever questions I find there...assuming of course that I have an answer to your particular question.



Alison Stevens said...

Adina, that's fabulous!! Congratulations!

I hope I might be able to write a similar post in the near future. I'm polishing up some of my NF PBs before querying my dream agent. Fortunately, I found a post in which she detailed exactly what she expects to see in a query, so I'm trying to provide what she wants.

Rachael Harrie said...

WOW, well done Adina. That's such fantastic news!!! Thanks so much for sharing with us :)

Adina West said...

@Rachael - Thank you! It's still a bit hard to believe.

@Alison - Sounds like what you are doing is time well spent. I sent around 25 queries for this book, and tailored each one to the exact requirements of the agent. Yes, it takes longer, but you have the advantage of knowing that you've given your project the best possible chance of a good reception - and shown them you're a professional.

Good luck with your query!

Megan K. Bickel said...

Oh, Adina, congratulations! I just love hearing news like this. It makes my day! I can't wait to continue hearing more about your journey, now that it's gotten a kick in the pants. : )

And I love your use of the word "gazump" - I'd never heard that one and I love it!

kangaroobee said...

Congrats! So nice to see someone just ahead sharing the journey.

kangaroobee said...

Okay way ahead is more accurate :)All the best

Adina West said...

@Megan: Thank you. :-)

The word "gazump" is pretty commonly used here in Australia in real estate. It is a great word!

Adina West said...

@kangaroobee: Have faith - you may be only one query away from a "yes" yourself!

Rachel Morgan said...

That is SO, SO, SO exciting! Congratulations, fellow Crusader! I hope to be able to share the same news one day, but until then, I shall live vicariously through your (and other authors') excitement!

Adina West said...

Thanks Rachel. I'm now following you. And I'm also a big fan of fantasy/YA/paranormal...sometimes all mixed together like in my manuscript!

Tessa Quin said...

Congratulations, Adina! I love success stories. I hope to get "gazumped" in the future.

I always think that agented people are kind of "unapproachable" for help, but that's probably just in my head because I find them a little intimidating ^.^ Thanks for offering to help, that's very sweet of you :)

Adina West said...

Hi Tessa,

I certainly hope I'm not intimidating!

I started my novel late 2008/early 2009, finished first draft late 2009 then polished and agonised over query letter/synopsis and started querying in March 2010.

So as you'll see this is all very new to me too - and questions are most certainly welcome. As I said, I may not have the answers, but I'll try.


Lola Sharp said...

CONGRATS!!!! *tosses confetti* *throws streamers* *blows horn*

May it get swooped up by a publishing house that loves it, and may it sell through many printings. :)


Julie Hedlund said...

Wow - many congratulations! That's so excited and always encouraging to hear when agents take on new clients.

I'm out on submission now, so I hope beyond all hope I'll be writing a similar post soon.

So happy for you!

A Pen In Neverland: Angela Peña Dahle said...

Congrats! Congrats! I'm submitting myself, two things out right now, and another almost ready to send out. I love it when I feel ready to send a MS out. It is such a humbling and refreshing...okay honestly it is nerve wrecking too, but what a wonderful way to wreck my nerves if I'm going to right? LOL.

Adina West said...

@Lola, Julie and Angela
Thank you! Being out on submission is certainly tough. The uncertainty, and often the lack of useful feedback...
I posted on this a little while ago, and my advice on how to distract yourself is to start a new book!

Christie Wright Wild said...

Belated (3 days) congratulations! Too cool!

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