In a recent post, When Agents Agonize, a reader commented, “I don’t supposed you ever agonize over rejecting someone and wishing you hadn’t? LOL That’s what I wish.” And it made me think of a story, one I hope I haven’t already told you.
Earlier this year I was getting slammed with busy, busy authors, submissions from established authors, and all-around good news. In other words, I was exceptionally busy. During the midst of all of this I received an email from a published author who had just received an offer for her second erotic romance contract. While she successfully negotiated her first contract on her own she decided that now was the time to find an agent, so she was getting in touch with me. Of course I moved immediately. I read her proposal and really, really liked it. But I was getting skittish. My concern was how much room I had on my list for another erotic romance author (or another author)? I love erotic romance and I love the authors but, as I tell all of them, the problem with erotic romance is that you have a limited market. Simply because of the subject matter not everyone is going to read it. Therefore I’m reluctant to take on too many authors in this narrow genre. So with a great deal of hesitation I told the author no. In fact, my exact wording was:
“Thanks so much for giving me the weekend. You are really talented and I enjoyed reading this, but in the end I’m going to pass. While I liked your writing a lot I just don’t think I’m as passionate about it as an agent should be about her client’s work. This was a tough decision for me because you are so talented, but I also need to be fair to you.
“Congratulations on your offer. I suspect you’ll have a long career.”
And in a follow-up to her follow-up I said, “It was a tough decision and if you’re ever looking for an agent again please keep me in mind. Things might be different. I do wish you lots of luck.”
Well, this incredibly wise woman read into my hesitation and emailed me back to suggest that if I was really on the fence maybe I should give it a second look. I did. And she was right. I was a fool. I scheduled some time to talk with her about her career goals and what she had in mind, beyond more erotic romance, of course. I humbly offered representation and it’s entirely my honor that she accepted.
Now I don’t recommend that you hound every agent that rejects you. This is obviously a very, very rare instance, but it does showcase that anything is truly possible in this business. I also want to make it clear that changing my mind in no way means I’m any less dedicated or in love with this author’s work than I am with my other clients and their work. It simply means I reacted too rashly.
I think often we hear that authors are really lucky when they have an offer on the table because it makes it easier to find an agent. It also makes it harder for agents to properly evaluate an author’s work the way we would like to. Sometimes sitting on something is better than moving quickly. It gives you time to really process your dedication to it. In this case I was lucky because this probably would have been a decision I would have regretted. I thank the author every time I see her for her persistence, and of course now we both have an interesting story to tell.