We hear all the time about the pressure authors are under. The stress of finding an agent and the agony of waiting when you have requested material out there. But rarely do you have to hear about the agony and stress you can put agents under. So here’s my story. . . .
On Monday I received an e-query from an author. Typically e-queries get dropped immediately into a folder for me to read when I have a few spare moments (I always try to get to them in two weeks). This author, however, did something that few actually do. She included her title in the subject line and it wasn’t just any title. It was a really amazing, eye-catching title. The kind that would make anyone pick up the book just out of curiosity. Naturally I opened the email and read the really great letter. I emailed back immediately to request that the partial be snail-mailed to me.
On Tuesday the author emailed me back to say that she had received an offer from a publisher and asked if I would like to see the full manuscript. Of course I did. I immediately responded and asked her to email it out, promising to read it overnight. Tuesday night, through dinner and during the rest of the evening, I read, frequently shouting out funny lines to my husband. I was reading and loving the book and continuing to read because I wanted to. Always a good sign.
Wednesday morning I finished the book and Wednesday afternoon I emailed the author (I didn’t have a phone number for her) to offer representation. We finally got in touch via phone and had a really great conversation. She knew a few of my clients so had some perspective already on the way I work, and of course she had done her research before submitting so knew I was reputable. I explained my vision for the book, asked her some questions about her career, and overall I think we had a good conversation. Of course she was waiting to hear from a few other agents and promised to get back to me soon because the editor was hoping for an answer quickly.
Thursday I waited. And waited. And stressed. I thought about it all through my lunch with an editor. And obsessed over what the author was thinking or what more I should have said.
Friday I panicked. Why hadn’t I heard? Why hadn’t she called me back yet? What was going on!?!?! Before heading home for the day I sent a quick follow-up email. I don’t want to nag, but I wanted to let her know that she should feel free to get in touch if she had any more questions or concerns. I heard back almost immediately and we talked again on the phone. She explained that on Wednesday she was a little nervous, but had since talked to other agents and wanted to ask a few more questions. We chatted some more and again I felt the conversation went well.
Saturday and Sunday I let it go. I had to. The decision was in the author’s hands and all I could do was hope she made the best decision for her. Whether or not that included me I wouldn’t know until I heard from her. It was, really, a very nice weekend.
Monday the phone rang. Whooo-hoo! She had received five offers of representation and had been, not surprisingly, overwhelmed. It’s a big decision and she wanted to make sure she made the right one for her.
The relief was so great I had to leave work early to celebrate. Okay, I didn’t do that. The minute we agreed to work together I went to work to get the book in front of as many editors as possible and negotiate a deal that I think we’re both very happy with.
So when you’re feeling that anxiety that we agents cause, remember, you cause it too.