So when the last agent said no, I pretty much gave up my agent search. One of the reasons I want an agent is I wonder if I should be trying to break into a larger house. I’ve talked about that off and on with a good friend of mine (actually, I’ve talked about it with pretty much anyone who will discuss it with me)…her take on the whole thing is, “In the end–I sell to whoever wants to publish.” Which reminded me I have nothing to complain about…I’m currently working with four publishers. They’re all smaller publishers (none are located in NYC)…but they do nice books…and they all seem willing and interested in continuing to publish my work. So why should I move on? Maybe I don’t need an agent after all. Maybe I’m doing just fine on my own.
I’ve never been one to send out tons of queries to every agent under the sun…I tend to hear about one that I think might be a good fit for me (for whatever reason), I query, they request or they don’t (or they don’t respond at all), and then they say no (or I get a wishy-washy “Hmm…I’m on the fence” or “send me the next thing you write and I’ll think about it” reply). That’s the way my agent search has gone. I decided my time was better spent writing…
Then, all of a sudden, a new LJ friend said she’d read through some of my old blog posts and wondered whether I ever found an agent. She said her agent handled some YA/children’s authors (she even told her agent about me!)…I had heard of her agent, but didn’t know much about her. So I did a little research. I discovered she represents another friend of mine, as well as a couple of authors I really admire. So…what the heck? I sent her an e-query. SHE RESPONDED WITHIN AN HOUR! Wow! What a change from the last couple who NEVER RESPONDED (or responded a month later), even when I went to them with a contract in hand.
The other thing I really liked about this agent is she asked to read Do You Know the Monkey Man as well as pages from my new novel. In other words, she’s not just interested in whatever my current WIP happens to be…she wants to know who I am and what I’ve already done. Which implies she’s interested in working with an author over the long haul…she’s interested in helping an author build a career; she’s not just looking for an edgy YA novel that she can sell quickly.
I always thought my if-it’s-meant-to-work-out-it-will attitude regarding agents has worked well for me, but this time I really find myself wanting it to work out. This agent strikes me as 1) professional and 2) a genuinely nice person. I don’t need an agent to be my best friend…but I DO need them to be a genuinely nice person. Case in point…there’s this one agent I met at a conference whom I really like, and I want to submit to him…I know people who work with him and love him…but somebody from my critique group ended up at a table with him during lunch and said he was rude to the waitstaff. I wasn’t even there…I didn’t see it…but I just haven’t been able to bring myself to query him. I don’t want an agent who’s rude to the waitstaff…even though I don’t anticipate ever being in a position where I’m serving him lunch.
I asked my other friend (the non-LJ one) about this new agent I just queried…she described her as “straightforward, honest, hardworking, caring and fun.” All the adjectives I’d want in an agent…I’m not going to name the agent just yet (just in case somebody out there has actually seen her be rude to the waitstaff…this time, I don’t want to know!). But I really hope she likes my stuff. Because that’s the third criteria…I want an agent who 1) is professional, 2) is a nice person, and 3) really likes my work!