If you haven't read "We Have An Agent! Part 1: The Call", click here to read it first. Otherwise, read on.
Not a lot of people know this, but before finally busting out of the query trenches on our rocket ship to glory and signing with our rock-star agent Jamie, we went through one of the heart-attackiest days of our lives.
The day started out normal enough. Stumble out of bed. Brush teeth. Check email. And then...while scrolling through the Facebook updates, vitamin ads, and offers to enlarge our penises (penii?), we saw this:
"I'd love to work with you and would be happy to represent the sale if you decide the small publisher is the right place for your work...Let's talk today or tomorrow at your convenience. I look forward to talking to you more."
Now, just to recap, at the time, we had a small publisher offer on the table, but as we started wading through the reams and reams of legalese, we realized we needed an agent to help us navigate this, so we poked all our queries and held our breath. At the time, we had a number of fulls out, plus an R&R that we had re-submitted that we were feeling REALLY good about. Keep that last point in mind, it comes back later...
So anyway, back to that morning. After reading that mind-blowing email, the insane shrieking that followed was loud enough to send our landlord sprinting up the stairs in his boxers. Eventually, we calmed down and, after assuring our landlord that we were NOT, in fact, being stabbed, we sat down to come up with a list of questions to ask the agent.
The fact that we were even doing this was surreal. Five years. Five years of struggling and self-doubt was about to end. We had made it.
This was THE CALL.
We were so nervous we could barely stay still. We didn't know what to expect. Some questions about the book, background about the agency, and maybe just maybe a little bit of gushing over LITTLE MISS EVIL. That would be cool. That would be fucking AWESOME.
Instead, what we got was this.
Me: "So, what did you like about LME?"
Agent: "Oh. I wouldn't know. I didn't get that far into it."
Heart Attack Number Two.
Me (stunned): "So you're not offering rep?"
Agent: "I said I'd offer you rep if you decided to take the small press offer. But I'm not sure you want to go with them."
Me: "Um. So you didn't read our MS?"
Agent: "Well, I read the first page, but I don't really know where it's going, so it definitely needs more work."
WELL OF COURSE YOU DON'T KNOW WHERE IT'S GOING! YOU DIDN'T READ THE FUCKING THING!!!
Me: "So..." (at a loss for words and trying desperately to remain professional) "If you think it needs more work, would you be willing to help us edit it?"
We couldn't believe it. This was supposed to be THE CALL! Everyone who ever talks about their call describes lots of giddy squeeing, an agent who LOVES your manuscript, and talking about where your writing career goes from here. This person didn't care about us. She hadn't even read our work. She just wanted to jump aboard a sale she didn't earn.
And that's when our inbox pinged again. While we were still reeling from being socked in the gut, we got...a rejection. From the R&R.
Heart Attack Number Three.
We realize this blog post is a bit of a departure from our usual sunny, optimistic demeanor, and for that, we're truly sorry. But that day, we felt the lowest we've ever felt ever since we started this journey. Not only was the rug pulled out from under us, we were starting to think that everyone in this industry was actually just out to get us. Nobody cared about us. Nobody was on our side.
That day, we seriously considered quitting writing.
But a wise man once said, "The night is darkest right before the dawn...
|..and I promise you, the dawn is coming!" -- Harvey Dent|
Not long afterwards, the REAL offers started pouring in. Four of them, each agent more enthusiastic than the last. We met so many sweet and wonderful people in this business, people who cared about us, people who believed in what we were trying to do. And slowly, we started to realize that there are good people in this industry. That this industry was FULL of good people. That our string of bad experiences was just a blip, an anomaly of Bad in a sea of Good.
So I guess the takeaway from this whole sordid experience is this:
Bad stuff happens. But you can't give up. Because when the bad stuff starts to pile so high it threatens to topple over and crush you with the weight of its suck...
That's when you make it.
And as for that agent? Many people I've told this story to have asked who she is. And, to be honest, we've thought seriously about outing her. But generally, we want to surround ourselves with positivity, so we're not going to (not publicly, anyway). If she's reading this, she knows what she did. Though we seriously doubt she will. Reading our work isn't exactly her strong suit.
But we don't want to stay silent, either. This agent wasn't actually someone we queried. She found us through a contest, and we've since alerted the contest organizers about what happened. We don't want any other writers to go through what we did. And we DEFINITELY don't want any more THE CALL moments to be ruined.
Has anyone else had any bad experiences with fake-agents? Let us know in the comments! We're all ears!