Hello Readers & Writers,
Welcome to the third installment of the Now What? series, featuring Ana Franco who will discuss how she knew her agent was right for her and what you can keep an eye out for yourself when you have an offer of representation.
It’s true. There tons and tons of amazing literary agents out there.
So how do you know who is the perfect match for you?
It’s easy! You ask questions.
What I suggest, first and foremost, is to ask to chat with the agent’s clients. Not only those that write in your genre, but clients in general. Clients that are still revising with the agent, clients on submission, clients that have sold books before.
A Note: Always make sure to ask to read the agent’s contract before signing anything. That’s one thing my agent told me when I mentioned I’d like to notify other agents of my offer of rep. Ask to read their contracts. Always.)
After chatting with my then-future-agent’s clients, I knew there was a huge chance he was “The One.” His style of representation suited me. For example, my agent writes small edit letters, leaves comments on my manuscript, and corrects my grammar.
There are, however, different sorts of agents. Some are faster to read, some slower. Some write edit letters, some don’t.
Same with how they approach editors—some will pitch via email, some will have lunch with the editors, some will pitch only 4-6 editors at once, some 20+. There’s no “right” or “wrong” way of agenting—just what suits you. And these are all very important points to consider before accepting or declining an offer of representation.
Having all of this information as well as knowing my agent’s representation style were huge factors in helping me decide what to do, but I still wanted to think some more.
There’s something about receiving your first offer of representation that people rarely talk about, though. After you ask for the two weeks to notify other agents and think before making a decision, your emotions will be all over the place. It’s a happy moment—we all wait for it to happen—but it’s also so, so stressful.
With me, the process went like this:
- I woke up in the middle of the night because I desperately needed to pee. When I checked my phone to see the time, I saw I had an email. And it had the words “offer of representation” in it.
- Cue some freaking out, reading the email a million times.
- And then I couldn’t sleep. I was awake for hours, trying to process that this was, in fact, real. I had dreamed of that moment so many times, I had to make sure.
- When I finally felt like myself again, I emailed the agent and we set up a call.
- I cried for hours before the call.
- After it, I cried again.
- And it kept going, I kept crying for days.
This is very normal, though it scared me a lot! People don’t talk about how stressful this experience is, how game changing everything about it is. I cried so, so much. For a while, I was afraid this meant I wasn’t happy. But then I realized (my therapist did, to be honest) that I was happy. But I was also a nervous wreck because this was something new, and I’m scared of changes.
But you know what happened later, when I understood what my emotions were telling me? I was happy! I was so, so happy! I’d be laughing at absolutely nothing all the time, babbling to strangers about how lucky I was feeling. See what I meant before? This messes with our emotions.
When I was finally calm, I grew anxious while I waited for other agents to read my manuscript and decide if they’d offer as well. Once again, after a lot of thinking…I realized that I was anxious because I didn’t really want other offers. Now, don’t take this the wrong way. Everyone loves multiple offers! They make us feel validated, like we’re “real writers.” And humans love to have others fighting over them. But I knew, deep down, that I wouldn’t want to accept another agent’s offer.
So I took the next logical step: I withdrew my manuscript from other agents after waiting just one week and accepted the offer from the original agent. I have a friend who once said something along the lines of “when I got my first offer, before I spoke to the agent on the phone, I knew I’d ask for two weeks if we didn’t click. But if we did, I’d ask for only one week.” Sometimes I wonder what would’ve happened if I had waited, but it doesn’t matter. Not then, and not now. Especially not now. I’ve been with my agent for a little over a year, and I know that I made the right choice. I don’t regret anything I did, and that’s how I know for sure that my agent is the right one for me. Of course, hearing the horror stories about bad agents out there makes me feel extra good about my choice.
What I hope you’ll take away from this is that asking questions is essential, but always follow your gut. And remember: each journey is different. There’s no right or wrong experience.
Ana Franco is represented by Chris Kepner from the Kepner Agency. Aside from reading and writing, she loves story-driven video games, Starbucks, and cats. She also firmly believes The Walking Dead and Toy Story tell the same story. Ana lives in Brazil with her family and a bunch of spoiled cats.
Previous Posts in this Series:
Three Myths and Two Truths About Getting An Agent
By Tammy Oja
How To Communicate with Your Agent
By Alexandra Overy