Delaying the Happy Dance

I am back in the singles game anew, looking for that soul mate, that agent of my heart. Yesterday’s post by Editorial Anonymous, regarding the enthusiasm of new authors upon being offered representation, caught my eye. An Offer of Representation. The responses to Editorial Anonymous were filled with hysterical laughter and LOL’s. I can only hope they are laughing at themselves because they have experienced first-timers eagerness and not because they are laughing at those of us who have.

This business is about as personal as you can get.  We are not selling water bottles (as one agent pointed out to me) we are selling our creative property. And while creative property is not really a piece of our souls, it takes a lot of soul (and time and work and energy and sacrifice) to create property worth selling. So surely Editorial Anonymous can understand the relief that comes when someone from an industry filled with "no" says that they recognize our talent and our potential– when someone finally says, "yes."

One of the comments to the EA blog post asked, "What should I be asking?" I wondered the same thing before I had a talk with the agent who first offered me representation. At that time, I Googled the subject and jotted down a long list of questions, asked them (not really paying attention to the responses). What I knew then was that my "yes" at the end of the phone call meant that I had moved one step closer to my dream. One step farther on this long (getting longer) journey.

What I learned in the 18 months I spent with my agent is that we should be asking ourselves, "What do I need from this relationship?" What kind of communication do I need? Email, phone? Do I want to be left alone? Do I want someone to check in with me on my WIP? Should that person ask about my personal life or do I want the relationship and communication to be completely business? How often does the agent need to contact me about submissions? How about pulling manuscripts? How do I see my career progressing? What houses do I want to work with (if you know)? How much editorial help do I need? Why am I getting an agent in the first place?  What type of work do I do most often and do they represent that kind of work? If you have a clear picture of yourself you’ll be able to honestly say, "This is who I am, this is what I need, can you give this to me, and can we put it in the contract?"

Perhaps next time I’m offered representation or a contract (I have high hopes that this will happen) I will be self-assured enough to delay my happy dance, ask for the fine print and ask the right questions.  I can’t promise anything.

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