It’s weird, the agent-author dynamic. I think probably especially before you sell a book. It’s easy to be intimidated, even after you’ve met your agent and he’s awesome and friendly and has cool hipster glasses and geeks out about theatre with you and gives brilliant, insightful notes. He’s on your side. He loves your work. He wants to make it better and help you sell it and make your dreams come true. But it’s still easy to be sort of…well, um, sort of scared of him, especially when he reps authors that you admire so much. It is easy to deem yourself his suckiest client. Especially after your first book doesn’t sell.
Earlier this week I got revision notes on Thrice-Blessed from Awesome Agent Jim. I was…a little baffled, honestly. I didn’t exactly understand what he wanted me to work on. I emailed with my critique partners, with my alpha reader friends, with the brilliant playwright husband. Everyone was super-supportive, but they all had different takes on it and where I should go next. I felt really lost about what to do with this revision I’d been so excited to start. My initial reaction was basically a panicky OMG I am so dumb. The pacing sucks; I’m going to have to cut the whole first half. Cate isn’t active enough. I didn’t learn anything from writing and revising Garolass after all. Those things I thought I’d improved? Ha ha ha NO.
I might add that Jim obviously did not say any of that. That was me extrapolating wildly. Not selling a book and deciding to shelve it? Turns out it’s a little bit of a confidence-shaker.
We emailed back and forth, and I threw out ideas, and Jim explained more about what he meant. Some of my initial ideas were way off the mark. I sort of understood what was off about the manuscript but I still wasn’t sure how to fix it. Call me tomorrow if you want to chat, Jim suggested. Call him, brilliant playwright husband said.
But I feel all dumb and high-maintenance, I argued. I have not even sold a book yet. I feel guilty taking up all this time. His other authors are so brilliant, they probably never bother him with stupid questions and editorial help.
Y’all. I am SO GLAD I stopped being neurotic and just called him. One fifteen-minute conversation and I feel totally inspired and excited to tackle this next step.
First of all, he reassured me that he has not lost faith in me. That he thinks Thrice is wonderful and strong and promising. That he just wants to take the feedback editors had on my last book and make sure that they have no reason to say no to this one. I can’t tell you how awesome it is to hear those things out loud. It means a lot.
Second, he explained things. And his notes were so helpful I can’t even. For instance, re: Cate’s agency. It’s not so much being active as…we see what she wants but we don’t see why she wants it. Why is it Finn she’s attracted to? Why does she need to keep her sisters close to her, even after <spoiler>? Why does she like Paul but not like-like him? Okay, he didn’t say like-like. But I cannot tell you how loud the resounding *click* in my brain was. OH!
I know what to do now!
Asking questions is good.