Do you speak Agent-ese?
I recently had a virtual lunch via Zoom with one of the agents that I frequently speak with. I know in this day and age we’re doing a lot of digital meetings. It was funny because she was telling me about negotiating rights with another person over Zoom. It’s definitely a changing world.
We are all dealing with the coronavirus right now. One of the positive things that we choose to see during these times is that now writers have the time to write, read, and slow down a little.
And there is light at the end of the tunnel over in the Writing Gym. The publishing business has not slowed down despite the coronavirus.
During my meeting with the agent, we really strategized the careers of some of our writers who are in the Novel Selling U and are also on the Paths to Pulitzer. These writers have finished their novels and they’re in the submission process. They’re creating that career.
I want to highlight one particular member: Jeanne. The agent and I were looking at her synopsis and really looking at her marketing angle. We asked each other: “Where are we going to place her novel in the market?”
Imagine having access to an agent in the way that Writing Gym members do–an agent who can look at the whole picture and say: “All right, placement-wise, where’s the very best place for this and how can we position this so that this author is successful?” This is really huge.
So, two good news; One, agents are still looking for quality manuscripts. Two, kudos to Jeanne and some of the other authors over in the Writing Gym for joining the Writing Gym and having created access for themselves to that kind of expertise.
Now the other thing that came up in the course of the conversation was about the way that agents are rejecting manuscripts these days and the kinds of things that they’re saying when that happens.
It is not the agent’s job to tell you what to do with your manuscript when they reject it. But they do have different ways of telling you that they’re rejecting your piece. For this particular agent that I talked to, she says: “You might want to have some more people to read your work.” That was her way of saying that your manuscript just isn’t ready yet, but she won’t really tell you everything that you have to do. Again, that is not the agents’ job.
You might not understand this because you don’t speak Agent-ese. The thing is, I speak to agents several times a week. I’m speaking to publishers and editors several times a week so that I can read between the lines when the writers over in the Writing Gym get those rejection letters. And because of that, we can interpret the letters.
Remember when we were all still in school and we were graded with letters, from A-F? We can try to interpret your “grade” judging by the rejection letter. Is it an A or an F? What are they really trying to say with this language that they’re using?
Especially at the Writing Gym, we have agents who have worked with us for a long time and, to be honest, 50% of the agents who I talk to are people I personally know. Because of that, we can get on the phone, call these agents up, and let them know that a manuscript has finally been revised. We can also depend on these agents to give us some meaningful feedback on the writing. This is really important.
Our Gym rats aren’t stuck trying to deal with the confusion that comes with Agent-ese, such as asking unsurely whether it’s the manuscript itself or the query letter that has led to the rejection.
Are you getting a lot of rejections and you’re not really sure what they mean? Or are you one of those authors who starts a novel and then starts it again and then isn’t quite sure what to do with it? Or are you someone who is confused about what genre your novel falls into? Let’s talk about it and clear up the confusion. Contact me here.