Age Category: YA & Adult
How long you queried before you found your current agent: Four years. I queried three books between the spring of 2013 and fall of 2017 before landing my agent.
Have you had prior agents?: No
Are you published and/or do you have a book deal?: No
I don’t think about fear until the very last possible moment. That’s when a million thoughts race through my mind and I second guess everything and nothing makes sense, nothing adds up, nothing looks right, nothing works, and oh my God, I am a failure.
But then my agent comes along and because she doesn’t have time for all of the theatrics, she shuts me down. So I can restart because I was buffering and then I froze and I would be stuck without the nudge.
This might sound absolutely wild to some people but before I got an agent, I didn’t stop to think, really think about the fact that your agent is trusting you to deliver stellar work. It sounds stupid saying it because duh! But I was so busy focusing on what she could do for me that every time she responded, with great faith in me and my abilities to deliver, I realized, oh shoot, I have to do this. I am in it now. I worked hard to get here and I have to keep going to get there, because this is just the beginning. No rest, the real work begins now.
I have to be not just good enough but better than what she’s expecting so that I don’t embarrass myself giving this person my work. My agent is so chill about it all and her ease made me realize that when both parties are putting in the work, we know that we’ve done all that we can do and at the end of the day, we can say that we did everything.
I’d be lying if I said that sometimes I don’t think to myself, what if I send this to her and she hates it so much that she says on second thought, let’s part ways. But I am a big believer in people coming into our lives at specific moments in our lives for a reason, so even if that were the case, I need to cherish and appreciate all that this moment has to offer.
The offer here is that we are equals working towards a greater. I only really speak to my agent when there’s business and I appreciate the fact that she is so chill in our correspondences because she immediately cuts through my nerves…like a child who falls and is about to cry and the parent says, “You’re fine. Get up.” In this way, I feel like I’ve known her forever because she knows how to shut me down before I go off on tangents that I don’t need to bother with. In other words, she doesn’t give space to entertain the fear. Fear is a spectator just as it should be. It has no place inside of the rooms where the ts are crossed and is are dotted. My agent knows exactly how to reel me in and dismiss my nonsense without being dismissive of me and hurting me. She means business and by golly, I better mean business too are all of this is for nothing. She pushes me to level up, pushes me through the door, closes the door behind me so I can’t see fear and gets me where I need to be.
Yes, we all want an agent who can get us the best deals on paper but it is so important to have an agent who speaks your language and doesn’t feel burdened in the moments when they lift you up. Everyone needs a lift. Especially when you’re on submission or about to go on submission (which I’ve been on once with rounds). How often and how exactly that lift happens depends on the person and I’m so glad that I signed with an agent who understands how vital this part of the agent-author relationship is.
Don’t overthink it, simply take a moment to acknowledge what does and does not work for you in terms of delivery in communication style. Bottom line, communication is key, hand holding or not. So take a step back from being so busy waiting for them to offer representation and really listen to the words that are coming out of their mouths. The tone. The word choice. The pauses. Again, don’t overthink it. You know you and how you respond positively and negatively. So you should be able to do the math and determine who the best fit is for you not just in terms of contract negotiations but the temperament and tone you want to set for your professional career behind the scenes.