So you're querying your little heart out on your novel and finally it comes.
It's what you've been waiting for. You want to jump up and down, scream and shout, and for all intents and purposes wed the person who offers you representation, right?
Except when you don't.
When I was first starting to query for my novel GEMMA UP-OVER, I had made three lists of agents: Most Desired, Somewhat Desired, and Desired.
And if you want to know something about me, something deep-down, soul-wrenching true, here it is:
I'm impatient. I want things to happen, like, NOW.
When I had my query out I was checking my e-mail obsessively every 20 seconds. I would even check my phone notification to make sure everything was working. Test e-mails and everything. Yes, I was that crazy. But don't judge me, you know you do it too!
Anyway, when I got the first offer of representation it was a Sunday afternoon, probably two weeks after I had sent this agent my query package.
Now, the thing about picking an agent is you have to find one who is the right fit for you. In this day of internet searches, following agents on Twitter, or stalking their blogs, you think you get to know them. You like what they've got to say, you think you could be BFFs and the like.
But the query process is as much for the agent to see if they like your work as it is for you to see if you think you'd like to work with that agent.
I decided not to accept the first offer and I'm going to break it down in a minute. I just want to clear something up first. I like the agent who offered representation. I think she is doing great things and is going to go very far with her agency. I respect and admire her. She is hard working. She slaves over her clients' manuscripts and does everything a wonderful agent should to get their work published.
When I first had my writing dream, way back in my mother's womb, though, I knew there was one thing I wanted above anything else. I wanted to be published in NYC. Your goals may be different, so take this advice or leave it. It's up to you.
I'm certainly not saying small presses or self-pubbing is not the way to go. For what you want, either of those may be perfectly logical steps. However, my dream is NYC and I'm going to push hard to make that dream a reality. (Not to mention, my father works for a printing company and I have always wanted to be able to walk onto the printing floor with him and see my book coming off a press. I think we'd both break down and weep. There will be photos if this ever happens, I promise.)
So I turned down the offer from the first agent and here are the reasons why:
1. While this agent is openly acquiring YA manuscripts, she did not have many (or any) yet on her list. Being a debut author, I thought I might be more comfortable with someone more firmly entrenched in the YA world.
2. This agent already had a large number of clients and a bit of a back-log in her reading schedule. While the back-log would have given me time to edit and revise some more, I'm an impatient person (see above). I really just want things to happen NOW.
3. The agent offered after reading three sample chapters and a synopsis. I'm new to the querying/offering process and so I asked my awesomely awesome critique partner about this. I just wasn't sure I felt comfortable offering my book if we hadn't talked about what direction it might take. However, this was not the tipping point for me. The tipping point was number four.
4. Like I said, one of my goals is to be published in NYC. One of the first things I found out after speaking to this agent is that she has not sold to NYC. That's not to say she won't sell to NYC, because I fully belief she's got the heart and determination. She just hasn't done it yet. This is where I got greedy. I really just wanted to see what would happen if I held out a little bit.
It was scary. Terrifying, really. What if that offer in March was the only one I was ever going to get? What if my book wasn't good enough for NYC. What if...what if...what if...
I could go on for hours/days/weeks/months about all the doubts and fears I had, but in the end, I just didn't want to settle. If the agenting relationship is like a marriage, you don't want to marry your runner-up, do you? That's not to say the agent who offered isn't a good agent and might not be the perfect agent-spouse for you, but for me, I just needed to test the currents a bit and see if I could swim.
Worth it? Totally. Without a doubt. No question about it.