Monday, December 13, 2010

Go Big or Go Home?

Go big or go home.  I've heard this phrase or one similar on television, in movies and even in songs.  While I understand the point people are really trying to make, it occurs to me this can be applied to the literary world.

As you know from previous posts, I'm actively seeking a new agent. I'm looking to get a new book out in a new genre so I want a new agent.  Having been burned early in my career by a rather unscrupulous character, I'm much more careful about who I submit work to.  I'll query anyone, but the skeptic in me always does a lot more research if they ask to see more.

Recently, I had an agent reject me in an unusually nice way.  She told me that while she liked my writing style and was enjoying the story, she felt it was too long to interest most publishers.  In case you're wondering, the story is around 133,000 words long which equates to around 510 typed double spaced pages. Now, when an agent rejects me, I either cry or curse or shake it off.  It all depends on the day. One thing I typically don't do is reply to the agent.  This time, I decided to send a quick thanks for considering my work and for giving me the kind words. Not too much later that day, the agent replied to ask me if I had any other projects she could consider.  I sent her a summary of five and she asked to see a sample of four. That's a lot and raised a bit of a red flag for me.  So, off I went to do my research.

In the course of my research, I discovered the agent is new to the business.  It appears she's been in business for no more than two years.  In that time, she's made some sales mostly to smaller houses and has more pending for the future. Despite that, there were quite a few posts on an author assistance web site that made a point to say an agent that can't make huge sales isn't worth your time. This site also had several posters who seemed to feel that a writer should never go with a novice agent.  In the midst of all of this skepticism was one voice of reason who kindly pointed out we all have to start somewhere and even went on to say that it hardly seems fair for novice writers to rule out novice agents and then complain that no one wants to sign them. You can imagine the flurry of posts to the contrary this elicited.  The general consensus among the writing community is to go for the bigger more well known agents so you can get the bigger better deal.

The idea of the bigger, better deal led me to the thought go big or go home.  Do I decide I don't want to work with this agent because she's not going to net me a major deal with a huge advance?  Or do I take a chance because my craft means more than money? Ever since I started out in this business I've said I never wanted to sell out to sell.  I still believe that.  For me, that means I'd rather take a chance on a lesser known agent as long as that agent believes in me and works hard to get my product out there.

Go big or go home? Not this novice writer. Say what you will, but I'll take my chances. Someday, I'll let you know how it turns out. 

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