Today’s post is inspired by our amazing client, Cass Morris, who is celebrating her 3-book deal with DAW today (congrats Cass!)
Cass hit the nail on the head with a great piece on her blog about the process that led to her getting published, and every once in a while it doesn’t hurt to be reminded that this is a multi-step process. Whenever I sign a debut author (and yes, agents do that—a lot, in fact) I always make sure to say something to the effect of, “This will take longer than you expect it to, and that’s OK.” It really is. And as Cass mentioned, sometimes you think you’re done with one step, when really the next step just shows you that you need to go back and fix something that you thought was done. It’s like learning how to dance. If you want to be the person who makes ’em say, “Wow” and not the person who makes ’em say, “Uhh…” you’re going to have to put the work in and realize that you’re going to stumble until you learn to glide.
That’s part of what an agent does for you. A good agent will not just flip your manuscript or fire off a handful of submissions before deciding whether or not to drop you. They’ll work with you to improve, monitoring the responses and analyzing whether or not there appears to be a weak point that still needs tweaking. We don’t like rejection any more than you do, and we get it a lot—much more than writers do, even. But we keep a level head, and instead of screaming, “You just don’t GET IT!” into the computer screen (or worse, the phone), we strategize and see what we can do to make sure we don’t keep getting that response.
Do some manuscripts just not sell? Of course. And that’s another thing you can learn from Cass. Instead of putting all her stock in this series, even though she landed an amazing agent, she spent the waiting time working up other concepts so rejection wouldn’t spell the end of her budding career. Folks, agents love it when you do that. We’ve had clients who had their first manuscript not sell and then their second hit the Times list. Perseverance will get you far in this business, and options help us better manage your work.
So, stick with it, don’t let yourself get tunnel vision, and always look for ways to improve. Monday isn’t a day for quitting, folks.