Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Yesterdayville, Todayville

A minor if rather surreal moment from yesterday. An intern from a well-known literary agency (both the intern and the agency shall remain nameless) called, wanting to know my current e-mail address, as they were getting bouncebacks on the address they were using.

Since I haven't been fishing in the agent pool in a great while--we're talking years, here--I was somewhat nonplussed. And I remained utterly deficient in plusses as the intern explained that they had on hand a 50-page partial for my book Tomorrowville, and were wondering if I'd like to send them a full manuscript.

When I expressed some surprise, she informed me the 50-page partial was from 2002. Now, I'm pretty sure this agency is located in New York City, not in the Devil's Triangle, but you have to admit that's a long time for a partial to sit around in a slush pile in any location.

Insofar as I can figure out the situation, I sent the partial to an agent who used to be a partner in the firm but since left...leaving behind my submission. ("What's this thing they've used to level the legs on this table? Hey, look, guys--it's the opening chapters of a novel!")

What is weirder is that I am scheduled to have lunch with the publisher of a small press...who has been reading Tomorrowville and wants to chat with me about the book. Tomorrow.

What is weirder yet is that the literary-agency intern wants me to send them the full manuscript even if it isn't available for representation, "just to see if I might be a good fit for the agency." And, sure enough, after the phone call, an e-mail from the Managing Director of the agency arrived, at my current e-mail address, asking for the full.

As long-time readers of this blog probably recall, I have rather mixed feelings about agents, and have enjoyed being agent-free for the last year-and-a-half.

On the other hand, I have some books that are unlikely to ever see print unless I have an agent pushing them.

On the other other hand, even if I decide I need an agent, do I need an agent in the US, or should I look for one in the UK?

(NOTE: That last question isn't rhetorical.)

14 comments:

Jeremy James said...

This seems like a good problem to have.

I would recommend getting an agent, if for no other reason than doing so might save you time in the submission process, and in the process of negotiating contracts with publishers when they show interest in those submissions.

(Of course, my advice is worth less than a cup of coffee...a cup of coffee left behind half empty on a park bench.)

Great story!

Janet said...

It never rains but it pours.

Seeing as you've set yourself up for this, I am going to give you my unsolicited advice, based on my non-existent experience with agents. Like, what are friends for?

Go for it. And feel quite free to go for American agents. That's an awfully big market to ignore. You're sitting on a manuscript or two; what have you got to lose if somebody else wants to shop them around for you?

My bill for consulting fees is in the mail...

David Isaak said...

Hi, Jeremy--

Don't underestimate the value of a cup of coffee. People have been killed for less. In fact, Pamela has killed several people over lack of coffee, and has on occasion almost killed me.

David Isaak said...

Hi, Janet--

Well, I don't think of myself as ignoring the US market. I always thought it was ignoring me.

But your point is well-taken. The check is in the mail.

Janet said...

Your point is taken also. I was thinking of the other books.

Alis said...

On the other hand, if Shock and Awe takes off as i think it fully deserves to, maybe publishers will come to you...?

Tim Stretton said...

If agents are interested in the book, it seems perverse to turn them away. Like Jeremy says, a nice problem to have.

A couple of months ago you posted a paragraph on Tomorrowville which made me want to read it. There must be a market for it, and if an agent wants it...

How does this stack up with MNW having first refusal on your next work? Does this count as 'next'?

Sam Taylor said...

I've been wanting to read it too, after that post a few months ago. So I wish you luck with the agent.

And I think the agent is definitely worth it, as long as it's a agent with a good publishing history and whom you get along with.

Sam Taylor said...

Oh, and if the agent wants you, then ask the agent Tim Stretton's question. At the very least, the Agent may be able to work out a more favorable contract for the second novel.

David Isaak said...

Hi, Alis--

So far there are no signs that S&A is breaking any sales records, but one can hope...

David Isaak said...

Hi, Tim--

Let me drop you a note on the details...

David Isaak said...

Hi, Sam--

The agent in question has a good track record (assuming that she in fact is requesting the book and this isn't a junior agent trying to build her own stable).

Whether we would get along...I dunno. I got a bad attitude!

Jamie Ford said...

Wow. I had a few stragglers call 6 months or so after I'd signed with an agent, but 5-6 years later? That's amazing. I can't imagine the agent thing hurting at this point. Sounds like fate is nudging you in a certain direction. As Yogi says, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it ..."

David Isaak said...

Hi, Jamie--

Yeah, I think it may be a record! Woo-hoo!

Problem is, I distrust nudges from fate. And wisdom from Mr Berra.