Monday, November 29, 2010


Yeah, so I have been on both sides of this fence. I have sent manuscripts to Ronnie that I thought were amazing but she thought were not up to snuff. And I have had clients send me books that they thought were fantastic but I felt were flabby. My first reaction on both sides of the fence: #@*&%#

OK, so as I writer, I folded. Fell into a fetal position and downed chocolate until my sugar high made me dizzy and delirious. And to be honest, I have not written in a while and the YA that I am so excited to write is sitting in a folder, waiting for me to show up to the page. Why? Because I am afraid I might not write a perfect novel---hello inner critique, so nice to see you again.

As an agent, I feel the same way--ok, not as bad---but pretty bad knowing I may be sending my authors into a chocoholic frenzy. I try to write my critiques in a nice, encouraging way, but when I read them back I realize they are blunt and and well, they are not a bear hug....not even a baby squirrel hug.

So, once you put down the chocolate, reread the critique and realized that you are not a phony, what do you do?

Choices, choices, choices...
1-talk to your agent and get clarification on what is and isn't working
2-if you agree with your agent, great--revise away
3-if you love the book and your agent doesn't, well it is decision time.
--Maybe you need to put this book aside and work on something else.
--Maybe this is where you realize you and your agent have different visions for your career, your work, your place in the market.  No, you don't just pack your bags and wave adios. You call, you talk, you figure things out. Your agent chose to rep you because he/she loves your work. Maybe not this book but your next one and maybe while this current book is sitting in a drawer and you are writing your next bestseller, you will figure out how to fix the 'in the drawer' book. Wonderful things happen when you let go and live.
4-Maybe you and your agent are not the best match and a different agent will 'get' all your work and be able to bring out the best in every book you present him/her. Maybe. {{think time}}

I don't know if this was all that helpful but this post is just to let you know you are not alone. You are not the only one this has happened to. And, this is not the end of your writing career as you know it. It is a crossroads. Choose well!

The frantic fellow above was created by the fabulous Mike Lester. The squirrel, he is courtesy of google images and if he doesn't get a move on he is going to be roadkill. (Don't read too into the metaphor, you know....the squirrel is a writer wistfully waiting for approval and not moving forward, not moving backward, frozen in self-doubt...writer roadkill.)

Can you tell it is getting late and I need to stop babbling......nite'all:)


  1. Thanks for this post!
    I'm thinking, what if an agent rejects a WIP and then signs with the writer with another project? Then this post must apply, too. Right?

  2. Thanks for the post, Jill. When I start querying, I hope to find the right fit for me. I have a couple of friends who have had good success with agents for the first book, and then nothing seems to work after that. The good news is that both of the friends I'm thinking of found new agents who then sold the books that the other agents didn't like. I think all you can do is try to work out your differences, but if it seems to be a trend that the agent isn't liking any of the new work (among various projects), maybe it's best for both to part?

  3. Cool that you sit on both sides of the fence. The fetal position is a place I've been, it sucks, but it certainly can light a fire under ones ass (Am I allowed to say ass?). For me rejection is about pulling up my bootstraps and fixen'... but when to stop is the answer.

  4. He he he! I needed this squirrel hug today. :)
    Some days we are roadkill, some days we dance.

  5. I think our inner critics are related.

  6. The writing (and agenting) biz is hard, and rejection is a big part of it. That sugar high can soften the pain, but then you have to get back up and try, try again.
    LOVE the cute squirrel! :-D

  7. Somehow reassuring & heartwarming that agents who write suffer too. I hope when you revise, that your mss sings and good luck with it!!! Thanks for the honesty.

  8. Oh, love this post (and the artwork!) Nice to know I am not alone.

  9. You're an amazing author. Go write the book. I want to read it.

  10. Thanks Jill, for letting us know we're not alone, in a humorous, yet informative way!

  11. I chose your blog arbitrarily and suddenly found myself being discussed, Jill. Convicted, in fact, as being an unwitting member of "writers' roadkill", as you dubbed it. Nevertheless, you write with a glee that goes well with my morning coffee and I sense I can learn much from your ideas. So I promise to move fwd now with queries for my memoirs. After all, the Geneva convention established they can't eat us, right?

  12. Thanks for such an informative post and such good articles!

  13. I used to stress about all the ifs, ands, and maybes until I adopted the mantra,"Everything happens for a reason."

    It always (well...mostly) makes me realize that something isn't right––the story, the connection, the timing.

    So I'll keep hanging in there until someone upstairs taps my head with the magic wand and says, "Okay, kid. Your turn.":)

  14. This was helpful and timely. Thanks.
    Any chance you're interested in a nonfiction narrative set in Paraguay during the last two years of the Stroessner dictatorship??? (Insert smiley face icon here.) And thanks again!

  15. This is a great post! My innner critic is really mean and sometimes not helpful at all. Your critique of my WIP made me jump back in and fix those rough spots. There may have been chocolate involved - how much? - I'm not telling.

  16. I think that, as writers, we should treasure honesty above all else. A hedgy, vague explanation of why something isn't working cushioned in terms meant to make us feel good about ourselves isn't particularly helpful. Honesty, even though it can hurt, is so so so so so much more valuable.

    Just a way of saying: don't feel guilty for your blunt words. Not even a little bit. Hard as they may be to take, they're the best food we can get.

  17. *hugs* Time to get a move on (to revisions for me). I find your bluntness to be refreshing and necessary because I know you have your clients' best interests at heart.
    And once you write your novel I'd be happy to crit for you!! :)


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