Several of my online friends have been entertaining agents offers this week. Some have several offering and others are not sure the offering agent is the right fit. Contrary to what you think when you start querying - that any agent who reads your book and likes it is the right agent - sometimes it doesn't work that way. It can be stressful to say yes to an agent whether it be because you have options or you're just not sure. So I thought I'd write a little bit about what I learned from the querying agent process in the hope that it puts some minds at ease and answers questions other writers might have.
1. Truth: Every agent is different. There is no formula for how they or when they will contact you. Some are formal in their responses, giving little away. Others ooze enthusiasm. Some would never dream of contacting you after hours or on the weekend while others will call you at 9 pm to offer. I had an agent extend the offer over email and then ask for a phone call. There's no way to know what to expect of each agent. Heck, they may offer to fly out to meet you.
2. Myth: You'll know as soon as you get off the phone. Maybe, you will, but just like some people experience love at first sight, a lot of people don't. You might still have questions or want to look at the contract. Or maybe you will like the person a lot, but think they might not be the agent for you. It's a decision you should probably sleep on. You may want to ask for a second call to confirm.
3. Truth: You may love an agent that's not the right agent. I would be lying if I said I just knew it was Mollie hands down from the moment we spoke. I loved Mollie, but I loved some other agents too.
4. Myth: An agent is better than no agent. If you get this bad feeling from an agent or they want you to change things and it feels all wrong, then I would advise that no agent is better than the wrong agent. You can keep querying. Turning down one agent is not the end of the process, and it takes a lot of courage, but if your gut says it's wrong -- trust it.
You might wonder how I wound up choosing Mollie. Well, the truth is that I almost didn't. I was so intimidated by her, not only because of her professional accomplishments and her passion, but because she had these very high expectation for me and my book. Expectations I was scared I couldn't meet. But it was this exact issue that forced me to spend more time talking and emailing with her. I wanted to see if I could get comfortable with her, because at the end of the day, I knew she was going to be a great business partner. And then something magical happened. When I thought of a question, the first person I wanted to ask was Mollie. What would she think of this article on YA trends? How do publishers do this or that? And that's when I realized Mollie was my right agent.
May each of you find the agent that stays up all night doing editorial notes while you're up working on the first batch. The agent who goes to bed early the night before editor offers because she can't wait for the morning emails --also just like you. The agent who sits in a closet at a fancy dinner reception to discuss what's going on with the book.
The right agent will know your book inside and out and champion it at every opportunity. They will be excited to build a career with you, and you'll be excited to call them your agent.