So, this thing happened

My literary agent broke up with me. I’ve had her for years. Years! She loved my first book. She became my agent after years of trying to get an agent (lots of manuscript requests, but no commitments). Together we worked hard to make it a book I’m really proud of. But it didn’t sell. She sent it out for two years and then told me it was time to shelve it. I was devastated. It feels stupid to say that. There are bigger things to be devastated about but I was. I was.

I cried. Actually, when you go out on submission, you cry a lot. At least after a month passes and no one has offered you a deal yet. But then when it’s over and nothing happened–no six figure deals or ten dollar deals–you have to mourn.

I wrote another book. Actually, I had already written another book. Right before I signed with her, I was sending this other book out to agents after not having luck with the first one. She gave it a read and then I got her thoughts. She didn’t think it worked. I needed to change it in so many big ways, she said. It was hard to hear. She gave me a bunch of edits, notes. I read the notes and then put the whole thing aside. I tried to write a third book. Something spooky and historical, something challenging. I couldn’t get it figured out, though. Plot is hard for me. Everything I try always feels so artificial or contrived. I know, I gotta get past that. Anyway, I gave up on the third book and, with her notes, went back and revised the second. I thought it was great (having just read it again after a long time, I can see the work it needs, but at the time, I was in love). She did not. Back to the drawing board. (What exactly is a drawing board?)

I spent a long time on my latest. Like a really long time. I finally finished a draft and wanted her input on where she thought I should focus. What works? What doesn’t? She was my agent and I figured it would be good to get her opinion and thoughts because I wanted it to sell. Like I said, it’s been a long time since I started this journey.

She had it for months. At some point she wrote that she was going to dive into it and get me feedback in two weeks. Six weeks later and I hadn’t heard from her. I was worried. If she loved it I would have heard from her. I sent a check-in email. I didn’t get a response. I braced myself.

And then she did respond. Monday morning there it was in my inbox. I saw the first sentence and knew where it was all headed (and I had a whole day of clients to see, so that was hard, to say the least. I couldn’t NOT read it, though. I mean, I already knew.) She was so sorry, but….you know the rest. She’s not feeling it. It’s time to part ways. She wishes me the best.

She’s a great person. So nice! I hope she’s incredibly successful and I have no anger towards her. But, of course I’m sad she didn’t like my other stuff. I’m questioning myself. I’m wondering how much more I can give to this. I’m defeated. But, well, I can’t give up. I want it too much. I like too much. I like my ideas and my characters and my stories. I want to share them, I want to be read, I want to put my voice into the world.

So, I’ll keep going. And I’m trying to tell myself, it’s a good thing, ultimately. We want someone who loves our stuff, who believes in us. In all relationships, really, right?

That said, I’m listening to a lot of break up songs. Well, my version. “This sucks” songs and “you are still alive and go get em” songs. They exist in case you need recommendations.


2 thoughts on “So, this thing happened

  1. johntshea says:

    Sorry to hear this. Of course nothing can stop you self-publishing any or all of your books. But what we might call “under-publishing” is the danger. In any case, your reaction sounds wise. Do keep going and the best of luck!

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