Thank you to Laurie Alice for sharing her agent journey with us.
Laurie Alice Eakes is the award-winning author of historical romantic fiction in both the sweet-secular and inspirational markets. After a slow start, her career took off this year with the sale of eleven books in nine months.
She lives in Texas with her husband and sundry animals.
Worse Than No Agent At All
A bad agent is worse than no agent. For me, I learned this aphorism the hard way. I was so thrilled to get an agent I said yes to her representation without getting all the scoop on her. In truth, she’d come recommended by someone I respected. Things looked good for the first three months.
This post is about what can happen if you jump at the first agent who offers to represent you, or if you submit to one without doing your research on her first, research such as finding clients who have left, as well as those who have stayed, what she represents, to whom she has sold, etc. And, because I am an unashamed believer in the happy ending, this post ends on a positive note.
When my agent and I met in person, we didn’t click. Why I won’t go into, but she exhibited some behavior that set off alarm bells in my head. Of course I ignored them. She was an agent in New York with a great address--the same building as St. Martin’s Press, and I was writing secular fiction.
During the next year, I worked hard on my writing. I finished a couple of manuscripts, something I hadn’t been very good at doing. I went to a couple of regional conferences and made contact with editors who liked my stories and said send away. After these conferences, I contacted my agent and told her to send the projects. Then I waited.
She called me once a month to tell me nothing had happened. Sigh. But things took a while. In July, I went to the RWA conference in New York city. Great things would happen there, right?
Wrong. My agent never remembered to bring the list of editors to whom she’d sent my stuff. She hated my next idea.
Discouraged, I went home and didn’t work so hard on my writing. In fact, I finished nothing. I still got the monthly calls, but nothing happened—still. Finally, at the advice of some new writing friends I’d made, I wrote her and asked to know to whom she’d sent manuscripts, as I was severing our relationship and needed to let the editors know.
Surprise. She hadn’t sent my stuff to any of them, not even the ones with whom I’d made contact over a year earlier. She said she didn’t think I was publishable and should move on.
So I did. I played with ideas and part of me still had the dream, but I essentially stopped writing, went to grad school for history, liked academic a little, but research more, and went back to my office job. A couple of times, I took out things I’d written, dusted them off, and reworked a chapter or two. I even submitted something which, fortunately, didn’t sell. It really was bad and I wouldn’t want it in print.
Then tragedy struck. My best friend found out she had four months to live. She told me to go back to writing, to pursue that dream and not let that lousy agent stop me. My friend believed in me. Several other life-changing events occurred, too, and I found myself with a renewed relationship with the Lord, glad my secular stuff had gone nowhere, joined ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), and, by a pure miracle of the Lord, got an agent who believed in me.
On Wednesday I'll post the rest of Laurie Alice's story. She may be stopping by today, so feel free to ask questions.