Breaking Up Is Hard To Do & The Introduction of the SAT

I've got a guest poster today!  Anita Howard (raven1 to all you QueryTracker users) will be ushering in the first of my (hopefully weekly) SAT's - Successful Author Talk.  She was kind enough to invite me to her blog for my own guest post regarding my successful agent hunt, and we found out how much fun it is to do each other's work! She recently made the move over to Blogger and her blog can now be found here. Her own experience being slightly more vast than mine, she volunteered to do a post for us today about the difficult choices writers are sometimes faced with after that initial success.

Mindy, thanks so much for inviting me to your wonderful blog! I’d originally thought about giving a rundown of my crazy and hectic representation story. But that’s been done here already … So, let’s do something different today.

A writer acquaintance recently asked about my experience of leaving my first agent. She assumed that said agent had dropped me because we hadn’t sold anything in our two years together. I wanted to address this concern.

Truth is most agents aren’t just in it for the money. The good ones … the BEST ones … are in it for love. They sign the author, not the book. And I was blessed enough to have that kind of agent (twice now—yay!). But sometimes, love just isn’t enough.

My First Ever Agent (FEA) is and was an awesome agent and person. And no, she didn’t drop me. She would’ve hung in with me forever. But I never would’ve been able to get published with her.

When I first got a request for a full from FEA, it was for a vampire fantasy. She couldn’t get into the story, but she asked what else I was working on because she loved my writing and voice.  I told her about my WIP, a love story about a deaf heroine, the ghost that only she can hear, and the mysterious viscount who’s in some way tied to the ghost’s death. FEA was very excited and asked to look at it when I finished.   That’s the book she fell in love with and signed me for.

Throughout our partnership, we tried to sell the MS as a single title romance. The editors kept complimenting the premise and the prose, but they couldn’t get past the first person POV and the duel heroes. That goes against every rule in romance. The book really needs to be shopped as a literary gothic love story, which is what my new agent plans to do down the road.

Anyway, while that book was being subbed, I wrote two other romance MSS, but they were both too fantasy based for FEA’s tastes. So, without any complaints, I trunked them. When I got the idea for my Alice in Wonderland YA, FEA had just added young adult fiction to her list and we both agreed I should write it.

Once I finished, she loved my YA's premise, the characters, and the voice, but again, the fantasy elements threw her.  I'm not averse to revisions, but this was a matter of subjectivity and artistic differences that kept popping up. I told her I thought we should part ways because we had different visions for my books and my career.

We were both really sad and stunned at the end of that phone conversation.  ;-( To make it worse, it was the first of December. What a great Christmas present, right?

Still, we parted as friends. She emailed after that phone call and said she'd always be my fan and to keep her posted on my successes. It makes me sad when I think of it. But, I did the right thing for both of us.

Leaving my first agent was the hardest and scariest leap I ever made. I treasured her immensely as a person, and depended upon her professionally. But we were never going to see eye to eye on any of my stories other than the one she signed me for.

If any of you are considering leaving your current agent, think carefully before you make that decision. If your agent loves your work, other than a few revisions here and there, and she has the connections to get your stuff out there and bought, it’s a no brainer. STAY. Most agents are in it for the long haul. And you should be, too.

But, if you realize you’re not ever going to see eye to eye on the things that are crucial to staying true to your growth as a writer and your stories, if you’ve “grown apart” and your voice would suffer for staying—leave, as amicably as possible. Loyalty notwithstanding, you have to do what’s best for you and your career.

Good luck to each of you, whether you’re seeking representation, or have found it already. I hope to see you upon the shelves very soon. :-)