Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday Fricassee

I've been armpit-deep in a Rather Large revision, and I haven't come up for much virtual air (my tweeting habits have been sharply curtailed, for one thing).  And I want to say this:

My agent is brilliant.

I know.  I've said all sorts of schmoopy things about him in the past.  But hear me out.

Ever since I signed with him, Josh has brought a deep insight to my stories that I would not have had otherwise.  Eons ago, he started his publishing career on the editorial end of things--and it shows.  He has an innate sense of what isn't working, and what would work if it were changed.  And he offers this insight without once trampling on the sacred "this is my story" ground.  (We all have it--you know we do.)

My current project is no exception.  And the Rather Large revision (I wanted to die when I first read his editorial letter.  Yes, I did.) is yet another example of the brilliance he brings to the table.  He's also got Danielle by his side, and she's as shiny as they come.  (And, yeah, she's excited about this project, which is a pretty strong wind in my sails right now.)

All that to say--having an editorial agent is perfect for me.  Josh's influence on my work is irrefutable.  All this without line edits, too (which makes me happy, since my critique partners are more than delighted to inundate me with those).

So those of you who are in the throes of seeking-an-agent need to decide which kind of agent would work best for you--editorial or non-editorial.  Honestly, most of the agents I know lean toward the editorial.  (Let's face it--publishers want clean-tight-ready manuscripts, so agents are out there in droves, whipping stories into shape.)  But then, I by no means know All the Agents.  Probably I just like to hang out with editorial sorts of people.  Or something.

If you sign with a non-editorial agent, you will languish in your dark corner waiting for feedback or edits or whatever it is you're hoping for.  If, on the other hand, you feel like it's not an agent's job to edit your work, you will be peeved beyond measure when you receive a four-page editorial letter and notes in the margins of your work.  So it's important to know ahead of time not only what you want, but what the agent's style is.

Before I signed with Josh, we had a detailed phone conversation about my then-project, and the problems he felt it had that he wanted to see fixed.  I fixed them, he loved it, the rest is history.  So I knew going into this thing how Josh rolled, and obviously I liked it.

His approach is brilliant, too (agenting is at least half psychology, right?).  He doesn't "rip apart", doesn't pressure me, doesn't demand things.  He gives me space and time and the sense that he trusts me to do the work.  When we were discussing my current project earlier this year, he asked, "When will it be ready to go out?"  Mind you, I wasn't even finished with the second draft!  But his well-timed question put me into I Have a Clear Goal mode immediately.  "September," I piped.  And then I beat that by a week.

After that came the Really Frightening Editorial Letter--a.k.a. the brilliance.  It took me four days to process everything, and then I dove in.  And I'm almost finished (3 chapters to go).

It works for me.  For us.  And you will want the same thing from your agent.  We all have our lists of rockstar favorites when we start querying, but that sparkly agent on the top of your list might not be right for you, after all.  The editorial vs. non-editorial issue is an important consideration, and for things to work, you need to get it right.

And there you have it--my Friday gush-about-my-agent coupled with best-advice-I-can-give-on-agent-style.  Here's to finding your perfect-for-you agent!


  1. I'm with you in that i'd really want an editorial agent. But i have friends who have non-editorial agents and that works fine for them, especially once they get an editor with their book deals and stuff.

    Woo! Friday!

  2. It's true that there's no one-size-fits-all agent. My agent is less--a lot less--editorial, but I wouldn't change a thing. I, too, would have thought that I'd prefer an editorial agent, so I'm glad I was willing to take a chance. (It helped that both of the agents who offered were less editorial:) )

    I think a lot of unagented writers have it in their heads that an agent HAS to be editorial to be good, and that's just not true. I'd hate to see a writer with multiple offers on the table discount a less editorial agent for no other reason than that the agent's less editorial. If an agent sells a lot of books and thinks yours is good, then you should probably believe him or her:)

  3. Krista, you have a good point -- if you find that you really, REALLY click with an agent, then the editorial-or-not shouldn't be the deciding factor.

    After all, I SWORE I didn't want a guy agent. (No, really.) And I can't imagine having said to Josh, "I'm flattered that you like my story, but you're a GUY, so no thanks." ;)

  4. Authoress, my agent is also editorial and I LOVE that! She's taught me so much and has given me more "aha" moments than I care to count. I've received those long detailed revision letters from her that like the kind you're talking about, and though the first thought is "holy smokes!", the next one is "wow, she cared enough to go to all this trouble to help me make MY book better." I'm overwhelmed with gratitude for the work she puts in on my behalf. Plus her assistant I've worked with is top drawer as well, but that assistant is now a full-fledged agent with clients of her own. :) I haven't had the pleasure of working with the new one yet.

    Some agents are hands on and some are more arms length, so it depends on what you prefer. I always knew I wanted a hands-on agent and I've not been disappointed.

  5. I'm in the query trenches at the moment and really focusing on querying hands on agents. I want their editorial expertise and also want my agent (you're out there somewhere :) ) to help guide my career as an author.