Okay, first off, if you’re looking for a ranty post about the poor writer versus big New York, this is not the post for you. If you want to see where potential problems arise with, what else, communications, please continue.
My agent and I decided to part ways yesterday.
I will say it now: I am incredibly grateful for my agent to have picked me out of the slush pile and spent time working with me. She’s a fantastic agent and I wish her all the best. It was an amicable parting of ways, which is always what you want in this business.
But here’s the learning point, which kept me up last night til about 4 AM.
I’m in the army, which at this point, you know. So I am very much a lean forward type of person. I’m also a signal officer, which is about expectation management. If I tell my brigade commander (which trust me, if you think you know type A personalities, you’ve never met this guy), that he’s going to have internet in Iraq, damn it, that’s what he expects. Conversely, if he tells me he wants high speed internet, if I can’t provide it, I have to go to him with a plan that says, I can’t do that but this is what I can do.
It’s called course of action development and it’s how we do planning in the army. It’s also how we officers keep from getting our faces ripped off by our very high needs commanders. The army is not publishing, it’s life and death. So when I get focused on something, I’m focused. But here’s the thing: we also tend to do planning in range terminology.
What I mean by that is this: when you go to the rifle range, you have 50 meter targets, which are the closest, 100m, 150, etc all the way out 300 m targets. Ninety nine percent of the time, you spend all your time knocking down a 50 m target so that you can’t focus on the 100m until it becomes the next 50m. I can work like that, though, because I can look on my calendar and see the other targets approaching.
For example, when we go home from Iraq (and by we, I mean me and my husband, not the unit), we’ve got to get a new washer and dryer, get our oldest enrolled in school, go on leave, get to Maine. There’s all these things that we have to do and I focus on them in a way that I hit the closest priority target then move on to the next thing. This gets me into trouble with the kids as they have no concept of mommy’s target range and sometimes they want something now that’s not even on the radar yet.
So with my agent, my biggest challenge was that I didn’t know where I was on her target range. I kept being assured that I was but I didn’t know and I wasn’t able to clearly articulate my need to know to her. I’m all the way on or all the way off. There is no cruise control with me. We basically had two different ways of operating and that’s not a bad thing. I’m glad that she felt what I felt in that basically, we have different ideas of where I was heading. We parted ways with a thank you very much and she gave me a couple of recommendations. I’m grateful that she even gave me the time of day but ultimately, things were not working out and rather than continue, we opted to separate.
Folks, if you have to part ways with someone, I’d hope it would be like this. No recrimination, no blame, no hurt feelings. I think that my needs and hers were not in sync. I’m really okay with it and I hope she is too.
And now that decision is made, I can’t change it. I’m happy to say that my first round of queries for War’s Darkest Fear has already had requests for fulls right off the bat and there is still an editor interested in the project, so that’s gratifying for my wounded writer’s soul (trust me, deciding to leave an agent when it’s so damn hard to get one in the first place is a really hard decision and one that kept me up for more than just last night).
So I’d love to hear what you think. Have you ever left an agent? Why or why not? What are you looking for in an agent? Agents, what do you look for in an ideal client?
And agents, if you’re looking for a client who’s got 11 books written, is fast (probably too fast at times), focused, has a built in platform and believes in too much information is better than none, I’m your girl.