Thursday, February 26, 2009

When You Really Mean That The Work Is Not Right For You

STATUS: Still basking in the glow of yesterday’s news. Of course I’m now all anxious. We’ll we stay on the list? We’ll we move up? What’s going to happen? Luckily Jamie is very mellow guy. Takes it all in stride and lets me do all the worrying for him.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? HONKY CAT by Elton John

I had a funny thing happen to me not so very long ago. An editor, whom I know well, sent me a finished copy of a soon-to-be-released novel that was on her list that she was obviously very excited about.

When editors do that, they are hoping that the agent or person who the novel is being sent to will talk about it. We call that a big mouth list.

So I cracked open the spine to give it a look as I did not recognize the title. Then I started reading and I recognized it immediately. I had seen the novel in manuscript form and had passed on it. I remembered it well too because the concept was great and I recalled reading the sample pages more than once, having Sara reread them again, and having both of us come to the conclusion that we just didn’t like it.

So we passed with regret.

So now I’m reading the finished novel in all its glory and I can’t help wondering if the editor worked a lot with the author—whether I would like it now. So I read a good 60 pages of it.

I still didn’t like it; I’d still pass on it.

I was so not the right agent for that book even though the book is doing well. (I think it even hit the NYT list briefly). No regrets.

So sometimes when we agents say that a project isn’t right for us, we really mean it. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that it won’t be right for somebody else. In this case, I’m sure the agent who took it on is delighted to have done so and ecstatic at the book’s performance.

Me—I wouldn’t have read past page 60.