For some months now, I've been trying to solicit interest from agents and editors in a historically accurate World War II novel I've written. The novel - at least a third of it - was my master of lib arts project and had many eyes on it during its gestation. Since that time I've gleaned and polished, and that done, I queried a New York agent, who immediately asked for the complete manuscript. Since then, I've e-mailed her politely three times and placed one phone call regarding her intentions.
Recently, I had another nibble at the manuscript by another agent - this one not of the New York persuasion - and was fortunate enough to send him the complete manuscript. He turned it down. Judging by his very nice and somewhat helpful rejection e-mail, he'd expected it to be a non-stop action novel; consequently, he found himself bored by page 100.
Both instances point up an issue rarely talked about regarding writer-agent relationships: communication.
Should the first agent call me today, after months of silence, and offer representation, should I sign with her? Probably not - unless she has compelling reasons for her months of silence. Why? Those months of silence and her apparent indifference to my follow-ups probably sets a tone for her relationship with writers. Were I to sign, I might have more months of silence, not knowing whether she's marketing the book heavily - or not at all. In the end, I would probably feel that the half-year or year contract for representation might have been wasted time - time when I might have found an agent to represent me properly.
The second agent? My query and follow-up emails as we moved toward my submittal of the complete manuscript clearly spelled out that mine was a blend of character and action. His eventual response pointed up that he'd either ignored my depiction - or that he just plain wasn't "listening." Would his representation have been a positive one? Again, probably not. The man apparently has a habit of ignoring many aspects of writer-agent communication, and in the end this would have damaged - if not ended - our relationship.
This isn't a rationale for accepting rejection - instead it's a realization that both agents, for reasons directly connected to communication, weren't right for me: a writer who first wants his agent to understand what I'm about as a writer, and second, a writer who is willing to do whatever it takes to work with an agent - and hopefully an editor and publisher - as a literary team.
Causes Bob Mustin Supports
Native American culture. Education. Creative writing.