Agent Feedback

I finally received news from the second agent to whom I sent the first five pages of Three Empty Frames. Along with the material, I posed some questions regarding querying self published books. I had my suspicions confirmed. Here’s what she said:

“Agents rarely resell self published books these days. I think of it as your platform and what happened in the past. I’m looking to sell new, hot, fresh projects that publishers can work with from beginning to end. I would finish the series self published and then try traditional with a new project/series. Good luck!”

As you can imagine, I have mixed feelings. In one respect it feels like I’ve wasted my time and energy on all those stories. But in another, after three years and nearly half a million (!) words, I’ve definitely become a better writer. And both agents have had good things to say about the writing at least… It’s interesting to have another perspective on the beginning of the book. Here’s what she had to say about the opening scenes:

The opening quickly establishes setting and the dialogue strongly conveys a distinct dialect. The conversation appears to be setting up a frame narrative. Even though the reader gets backstory immediately, there’s enough held back (like the name of the love interest) to allow the reader to engage with the text. The narrative voice could be clearer—for a moment it’s somewhat unclear which man is on parole. The mystery of Joey verifying and looking into Mick’s story is intriguing, but it takes too long to get to this point of the story. The final scene didn’t pack enough of a punch for me. Jen, and the reader, seems to be ambushed by the announcement that two characters who have just been introduced are about to exit from the main plot. Lucinda seems to have a supernatural ability to anticipate Jen’s shift in thought. It’s interesting and complex. Good work.

She highlighted a few things that I already corrected but unlike the other agent who thought my dialogue was a little stiff, this agent thought it had ‘a distinct dialect.’ If you’ve ever had a conversation with an older, well-mannered gentleman, you will know that the way Mr. Dunne speaks to his daughter is accurate. I should know… I modeled him after my own father —a man who found himself with a baby daughter at the age of 55! So when I was in my late twenties (like Jen) he was in his early eighties! I was glad to have that bit of my writing validated. As for the rest of it, I will apply as best I can and keep it in mind for future projects.

Well, at least I get to delay the query process a little longer. I’m going to polish up Breaking Bread and put it out there before year’s end. That way I can start 2018 with a clean slate. As per the comments on my post the other day, I have some terrific suggestions on how to spice up the relationship between my two main characters and I’m going to dedicate the month of November to revisions. (Just like NaNoWriMo to keep me focused and disciplined). Then off to the editor and hopefully published before the holiday season. With the new year, comes a new (well not really new, just partially started…) project: my ‘historical’ novel, Here Lies a Soldier. Maybe I’ll finish it it time for Armistice Day 2018 – the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War.

25 thoughts on “Agent Feedback

    1. You’re right – it’s not a surprise. I will clear up my desk of it’s messes by year’s end and start fresh. I like the goal of finishing by Armistice Day! And when the tine comes, I will sign a copy and send it to you my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. The key word to me in the agent’s response is: “rarely” (not “never”) — and since you already have your materials ready to go — why not continue pursuing other agents while you continue moving forward? I give you credit for diving into the world of “traditional” publishing! Onward and upward!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Linda! Well, it might be worth a try. I need to write a good query letter. And really all I’d lose is a little time. After all, the query process is all electronic these days. So it’s a matter of swapping out the salutation and changing the e-mail address!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Feedback from one source doesn’t tell you what the industry is doing. And if you want my opinion its wording is almost condescending and rude. You’ve proven you have a track record. So what if those books are already out. This agent seems to want fresh new material. If that’s true how do you account for the fact that every Xmas season new anthologies of the collected works of Charles Dickens are trotted out, and appear on book store shelves ?

    As an experiment why don’t don’t you email ** another ** agent “Medusa” just to find out if you have a nugget of something that could bring in $$$. I still have a feeling you could be sitting on a gold mine. You be the next Steve Alten or Andrew Wier whose story started out on a blog. (Steven Alten wrote the “Meg” series and Andy Weir first had “The Martian” appear on his blog).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well… the feedback is confirmation of what I’d already heard elsewhere. Frankly, self publishing has flooded the market with a ridiculous amount of material, much of it garbage, unfortunately. Agents receive 400–500 queries per month, so why waste time on something that’s already available? I understand why they need to weed some of it out. It’s like when you apply for a job, and a computer program rules you out based on key words that it looks for. You really might be the best candidate for the job, but there are just too many applicants for the manager to consider each one. So I understand. I am pulling together all my short stories into a collection. Medusa will be a part of it and maybe I’ll even lead with it! Thanks, Tom!

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