Monday, February 13, 2012

how finding a romantic relationship is like finding an agent

1. It can take many attempts to find the right match:
It took months of query letters and perusing through Jeff Herman's guide to narrow down who I'd submit to. It took another month to send out partials and fulls. I often went back and forth when it was time to make a decision. Who do I like more? Who will I be happy with in the future?

2. Chemistry is just as important as qualifications.
I ended up not accepting with an agent who I thought had everything I wanted. However, I learned that sometimes the busier agents are just that. Busier. I knew that I needed someone who could take the time to help me refine my manuscript, someone who was as eager to help me as other clients. I had a list of pertinent questions, including Where do you see this going? Why is this worth your investment? How will you make this the best it can be?
You see, "big" agents are wonderful but they often have other clients that are first priority. Also remember that many fresh agents have a priceless hunger. I looked at background, experience in sales, other agents in the agency, but most importantly, passion for the manuscript.

3. Sometimes the best one comes from unexpected places.
Some rejections are an opportunity in disguise. One agent who rejected me passed me on to another agent, who ended up making an offer.

4. You have to be happy with yourself before you can be happy in a partnership.
You owe it to yourself to edit your manuscript until it seems excessive.
My personal time line:
2009: began first draft
2010: realized first draft wasn't written well, got suggestion from an agent to rewrite
halfway through 2010: began rewriting, attended conferences
2011: shared draft with critique partner, finished it halfway through the year
halfway through 2011: revised, revised, revised...went through around 20 rounds of edits
end of 2011: sent out at least 5 queries a week

What have you learned through your journey?


  1. This is awesome, Saumya! You're right that this agent thing is like any other super important relationship we would put so much energy, time, and love into. Thanks for sharing your story!! Can't wait to hear more about everything. :) Have a great week!

  2. I have yet to finish a manuscript, because the committee in my head keeps trying to keep me down.

    But I did enter a contest, with the first couple of chapters of the book I've been trying to write, and I got pretty decent scores.

    So I've learned that I don't suck as bad as "the committee" seems to think, and that if I don't open that Word file and get typing, I won't ever finish!

  3. The fourth one is so true of any relationship!
    Glad you found the perfect agent for you. I went looking for publishers instead and feel I found the right one for me.

  4. Not to give up. In relationships or in writing. If I'd given up after the first, or third, or twenty-eighth rejection, I wouldn't be where I am now!

  5. I really like the parallels with a relationship. Helped me to understand agents in a personal way.