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I never felt bad about my book until I got an agent


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#1 actusreus73

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Posted 21 May 2017 - 11:32 AM

So I wrote a novel, searched and searched, and finally landed an agent.  She had me sign a contract that gave her rights to everything I write and want to sell for the next five years, and seemed very optimistic, although, truthfully, I question to this day whether she actually read my book (does that happen?).  It's been four months since she gave me a list of 20 recognizable publishers to whom she sent it.

 

Okay, donkey kick to my pride time -- should I give up?  She's sent me half a dozen "no thanks," notes from publishers, but zero other feedback.  I can't imagine the entire list to whom she sent it haven't read it and said no by now.  So am I being paranoid?  What percentage of books get picked up by agents and then never sold?  How long is the longest I should keep my hopes up?  Should I ask her to dump me and try to self-publish?  Honestly, like I said in the opening, I never felt as bad about my book until after I got an agent.

 

Thanks for any feedback!



#2 Litgal

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Posted 21 May 2017 - 12:28 PM

1) five years and everything you write in that period (which generally would be read to cover anything you start in that period) seems like a very long time to me. I've been with my agent 9 years but have never be asked to sign something so sweeping.

BUT that's really the only warning sign I am seeing:

 

2) FOUR MONTHS IS NOTHING in the big picture of submissions. And if anything submissions have slowed CONSIDERABLY since began in this business. Not sure what you are writing but in many genres right now the pace is, at best, described as glacial

 

3) You are not going to get a bunch of feedback from editors unless they are actually interested in seeing a rewrite. This is the same as it was with agents--you don't get feedback out of anyone's goodwill

 

4) 20 is a lot of editors. I mean I personally like to see things go out in small rounds/batches so the market and reaction can be gauged. But each agent has their own way and presumably you discussed both your agent's connections and strategies before this all started.

 

It is very early to give up. And remember 50% of first agented manuscripts don't sell. Generally it is still better to trunk such a novel and continue with your agent and work on a new project than to start all over again (because remember just around 2% of those looking for agents get them).

Take a few deep breaths--getting an agent was base-camp on a steep climb. You must have faith in your work, and also an ability to take hits and keep on coming. Everyone I know who is published has unpublished material in a drawer somewhere that they still love. Them's the breaks. 


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#3 RSMellette

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Posted 23 May 2017 - 03:04 PM

What Lit said.


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#4 Niambi

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Posted 23 May 2017 - 10:10 PM

I've read many stories on this site about the same thing happening.  

 

I would say, "At least you have an agent."

 

- And - 

 

"Never give up!"

 

If you don't like the contract you signed relish in the fact that it's only 5 years.  You could write novels and not submit them, then when the contract is over find a different agent.  But, from what Litgal said, it may take 5 years to get this and maybe one other work published.  



#5 Litgal

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    In between I became a "hybrid" as part of a group of six authors involved in a high concept novel-in-six-parts called "A Day of Fire" which released in November of 2014. The book, "A Day of Fire," tells the story of the final days of the doomed city of Pompeii in a way you've never read it before.

Posted 24 May 2017 - 03:28 PM

Actually you can't. Generally a contract covers submission and/or sale of any work COMMENCED during the term. So if you start a book in that period (let alone finish one) the agent generally has a contractual right to be the one to pitch that to editors. Of course individual contract language may vary.

 

 

If you don't like the contract you signed relish in the fact that it's only 5 years.  You could write novels and not submit them, then when the contract is over find a different agent.  But, from what Litgal said, it may take 5 years to get this and maybe one other work published.  


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#6 Sassalota

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 10:31 AM

So, for other people reading this - a trick I learned from writers who were hosed in negotiations. Don't sign away your next five years. You can be more specific. Like - they get first shot at next book if it's in the SAME genre.  Five years and everything you write is insane. But, you learn as you live. It will probably work out fine but just in the future, maybe protect yourself more.



#7 Niambi

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Posted 31 May 2017 - 12:53 PM

Good point, but how would an agent know if a work was commenced within the contract?  

 

 

 

Actually you can't. Generally a contract covers submission and/or sale of any work COMMENCED during the term. So if you start a book in that period (let alone finish one) the agent generally has a contractual right to be the one to pitch that to editors. Of course individual contract language may vary.



#8 Litgal

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    In between I became a "hybrid" as part of a group of six authors involved in a high concept novel-in-six-parts called "A Day of Fire" which released in November of 2014. The book, "A Day of Fire," tells the story of the final days of the doomed city of Pompeii in a way you've never read it before.

Posted 01 June 2017 - 10:43 AM

Good point, but how would an agent know if a work was commenced within the contract?  

that question assumes a couple of things I am not willing to assume: a) that someone on the writing end of things would be dishonest and not respect the terms of a contract they had signed and b) that an agent of many years experience doesn't know how long it takes to write a book. Not to mention c) the fact most agents are in a position to retain lawyers if they are cheated. 


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#9 LucidDreamer

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Posted 03 June 2017 - 07:16 AM

Sorry, but that is a very restrictive contract. My agent actually allows me to self-publish on the side (for which she gets nothing) and even supports my self-pub. efforts by promoting them on social media.



#10 mzbritney12

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Posted 16 December 2017 - 10:15 AM

So I wrote a novel, searched and searched, and finally landed an agent.  She had me sign a contract that gave her rights to everything I write and want to sell for the next five years, and seemed very optimistic, although, truthfully, I question to this day whether she actually read my book (does that happen?).  It's been four months since she gave me a list of 20 recognizable publishers to whom she sent it.

 

Okay, donkey kick to my pride time -- should I give up?  She's sent me half a dozen "no thanks," notes from publishers, but zero other feedback.  I can't imagine the entire list to whom she sent it haven't read it and said no by now.  So am I being paranoid?  What percentage of books get picked up by agents and then never sold?  How long is the longest I should keep my hopes up?  Should I ask her to dump me and try to self-publish?  Honestly, like I said in the opening, I never felt as bad about my book until after I got an agent.

 

Thanks for any feedback!

My Advice to you friend: I would definitely reach back out to your agent and possibly have a sit down conversation on your goals together. It sounds  bit like some of your communication efforts are going in different directions. If possible, I would ask your agent about your editing process together (I assume the two of you revised some parts of your book before it was sent out to publishers?) and see any additional changes need to be made and why. 

 

Good luck with everything!


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#11 Niambi

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Posted 16 December 2017 - 02:46 PM

that question assumes a couple of things I am not willing to assume: a) that someone on the writing end of things would be dishonest and not respect the terms of a contract they had signed and b) that an agent of many years experience doesn't know how long it takes to write a book. Not to mention c) the fact most agents are in a position to retain lawyers if they are cheated. 

 

But that doesn't answer the question.  How would an agent know when and if I started a project before or during the contract?  

 

It's a moot point to suggest someone is dishonest or that an agent knows how long it takes to write a book.  It doesn't even weigh much in the discussion based on the OP's relationship to his/her agent. 

 

Additionally, based on the language it'd have to be a work the OP "writes and wants to sell" so who's to say he/she wants to sell it when it was commenced and not later on.

 

We can't make judgement calls with so little knowledge of the contract and as it stands know the agent seems to be the dishonest one who is cheating the OP.



#12 mwsinclair

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 12:48 PM

I think (and I should know not to speak for Lit) that she's suggesting that if the writer sent out a manuscript within a month or two of the contract expiring, the agent would be able to discern that it's likely the work had been started before the contract ended. Or if she had the inkling that had been the case, the agent would be able to hire an attorney to do some discovery work and get that sense. Presumably, any computers and cloud drives could be confiscated and examined to see when manuscripts had been started.

 

You know, assume guilt until innocence is proven...






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