Pub Rants

The Ones that Got Away (Part One)

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STATUS: Crazy day. Monday always is. I’m finishing up a submission—to make sure it’s all completed before I leave town tomorrow morning. Also, I’m in the middle of negotiating the film/tv rights for one of my books. Flurry of emails going back and forth as we try and resolve some outstanding issues and see if we can settle this down so I can present the offer to my author.

What song is playing on the iPod right now? THAT’S HEAVEN TO ME by Sam Cooke

Just a warning, I’m going to be leaving for the RT Convention in Daytona Beach, FL bright and early tomorrow morning. I actually don’t think I’ll have time to blog. We’ll see. I have to catch the bus to the airport at by 7:30 a.m. Ouch. That’s early folks. (As an aside, this is way too much travel in such a short period of time. I plan to be smarter when scheduling next year.)

I thought it would be fun to rant about what I think is an interesting topic—the projects that got away. I define “projects that got away” in a couple of different ways so it will make a good theme for the week. Also, I imagine that writers might find this rather fascinating. Do we have regrets? The quick and dirty answer? No. Not really. I see lots of stuff that’s publishable but not right for me. Every once in a while though…

Definition 1: The Ones that Got Away can mean the writers whose projects I offered representation to, vied for, but lost to another agent.

This happens. I wish it wouldn’t happen as often as it does but when I see a great project, chances are good that other agents think it’s good too. I offer and the writer mentions she already has a couple of offers on the table.

I am my charming self on the phone. I toot my horn—highlight my terrific sales record, high sell-through, movie deals but alas, the writer chooses another agent.

Darn. The project that got away.

For the most part, there really isn’t any regret. I tried hard for the project and lost. Karma in the world. The author/project wasn’t meant for me (and I know this is corny but I really do think certain agent/author hook ups are meant to be).

Of course, this sanguine approach sounds great until just a couple of weeks later I see the sale on deal lunch that it went in a pre-empt.

Grrr… Then I sigh. Maybe mutter an expletive (but that’s pretty rare) and move on.

I’m happy for the author. He/she deserved the quick sale and I would never begrudge him/her that. Still, it would have been more fun if it had been my sale…

7 Responses

  1. Anonymous said:

    I have a sincere question. If it is publishable, then why is it not right for you?

  2. 2readornot said:

    I too believe in the ‘meant-to-be’ author/agent relationship…I have a couple of agents I feel fit that requirement (and yes, Kristin is one of them) — both of whom I’ve met, btw. So far I don’t know if I write what they like however…and that makes me wonder how often that happens? When the people fit well together but the author’s works aren’t quite what the agent looks for….

  3. pennyoz said:

    I guess that if the manuscript is publishable but that it doesn’t fit into the agency is the same as an editor who finds a manuscript they love but it doesn’t fit their list. They’d love to squeeze it in somewhere but short of killing the head of the accounting department they just have to let it go.

    By the way. I am amazed at the amount of music I am so not familiar with. Your ipod is making me feel old. I used to be quite cool – or at least I thought I was because I loved Pink Floyd – The Wall, Kate Bush, Mike Oldfield etc… (sigh) –

  4. Cindy Procter-King said:

    Anonymous, sometimes it just boils down to subjectivity. Even if an agent thinks a project is publishable, if she doesn’t totally and completely love that project, then she’s probably not the best advocate for the project or the author. You want her/him in your corner, pushing for everything they can get you, not ho-humming their way through a contract just to fatten their bank accounts.


  5. lizzie26 said:

    Kristin is talking about the ones she was vying for to rep, if you read Definition #1. This does happen when a few, maybe several, agents have the full and all want to rep the author. The author ultimately decides, through phone calls and/or emails. I can understand how Kristin would feel when she sees that book listed in book deals. The whole process is hard on writers, but equally hard on agents, albeit in a different way.

  6. December Quinn said:

    It’s so interesting to see how the agent feels about this, because we see so much about it from the writer’s point of view.

    Have fun at RT!