I’m sure you’ve all taken on clients that you love the writing and the book, but have a hard time getting editors to feel the same way. Does this make you lose faith in your client (their work) in any way, or do you just become more determined to see that book (or another of theirs) hit the shelves?
I think from every agent you ask the answer to this question is going to be that it depends. One of the reasons agents are so picky and often use words like “love” and “passion” when taking on new work or even rejecting a project is that we know getting published and staying published is a long haul and can be difficult for both author and agent. If I love a voice and a client’s writing it’s a lot easier for me to keep the faith for however long it takes. If I take on a project because I think it will be an easy sale (like that exists) or because it’s okay, I’m not going to have the passion it takes to stick it out for what could be months or sometimes years.
The very real and honest answer to this question is that both things happen. I do lose the faith, but not so much in the client as I do myself. There are definitely times when I wonder, in situations like this, if maybe I am doing something wrong and not guiding the client in the right directions. And then I just get mad and decide that everyone else is an idiot and with renewed vigor I start over again.
It’s not easy for a writer to face rejection over and over again and it’s not easy for an agent either. When I offer representation I am making a promise of sorts. Sure, I never directly tell an author that I will have no problem selling her work, but it’s implied that I will sell her work and it’s important to me to live up to those expectations.
I think that writers have so much to worry about the last thing you need to add to the list is whether or not an agent will lose faith in you. If it happens you’ll sense it and it will be terrible and you’ll know it’s time to move on. Hopefully though you’ve found or will find an agent who believes that passion plays a key role in every author she takes on and has the fortitude to keep that passion going no matter what it takes.