Pub Rants

It’s Good To Eat Humble Pie

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STATUS: What a day! Got a film offer for a project that I’ve been shopping for three years. Kid you not. I made the author sit down before I revealed the details.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? OPERATOR by Jim Croce

Sometimes I need to laugh at myself. When I first started my own agency back in 2002, I think I was more surprised when an author said they would come on board than when they said they wouldn’t. After all, I was pretty unknown back then and hadn’t established nearly the track record I have now. It made sense to me that if it were a choice between me and a more established agent, I’d lose.

But here’s where I get to eat humble pie. As most of you may or may not know, I take on only 3 or 4 new clients a year—if that. (I’m not a take-on-everything-and-see-what-sells kind of agent.) I don’t offer representation often and when I do, most authors are ready to say “yes” because they have already done their research and would know if they really wanted me as an agent or not. It’s not to say they don’t ask questions or don’t contemplate other agent offers seriously. They do and I have lost possible clients to some mighty fine fellow agents (and you know who you are!) But as of late, I’ve always known that I was a serious contender.

But it’s been a while since I’ve gotten a flat-out NO from an author.

And I was so surprised. And then I had to laugh at myself because goodness, why should I be surprised? I’m not the be-all, end-all. If I think so, that means I’m getting too big for my britches!

22 Responses

  1. sandy said:

    Was this someone you went after, Kristin? Someone you approached? If so, it’s a toss-up. Either they’re interested, or not.

    If the person came to you, you offered to represent them, and they just said “no,” I think you’re entitled to be surprised. After all, they came to you. Why submit if you’re not interested?

  2. ~paulette said:

    congrats on the film offer for everyone involved! that must be exciting…

    it never hurts to step back and remind yourself once in a while that your little “kindgom” is merely one island in the sea, no matter how big it is compared to all the rest. After all, that humility is probably what started you off in the right direction in the first place and can only fuel your ability to grow. 🙂 But as for the author’s end of things, i completely agree with Sandy. There’s no place in ANY field of work for rudeness… and i definately get beyond my share at my own work. But i suppose we can’t control the “humility” in others.

    So meanwhile, congrats and i wish you all the best of luck. Go get some icrecream and party like it was your first.

  3. Maprilynne said:

    This post made me laugh (with you, not at you.) Don’t we all feel that way sometimes? And we really do need to be pulled back down to earth once in a while . . . even if we haven’t flown too high.:)

  4. Vicki said:

    Major congrats on the film offer. As far as the author who said no, hopefully he/she had really good reasons and knew what they were doing.

    Not to say that someone else couldn’t represent as well as you and yes, perhaps better (that’s a bit hard for this writer to believe)however from reading your blog for a while now I’m here to say that the 3-4 who you do take on each year are indeed lucky to have you.

    Just my thoughts.

  5. LindaBudz said:

    Awwww, you’re the end-all and be-all in my book! (Well, you and my agent both are, of course. Can there be two end-alls and be-alls?)

    And to anon 8:20 … WTF? Maybe your take on Rachel’s posts says more about you than it does about her. I found them neither “high” nor “mighty” nor “anti-writer” but rather “honest” and “useful.”

    BTW, Rachel, congrats on the film deal. Three years? Thanks for giving all of us a little extra helping of hope tonight!

  6. Anonymous said:

    Ms Nelson

    You do your job and you do it fantastically, out there pitching and hitting for your clients. What more could they want? For whatever reason that author said no, it doesn’t change that you’re good at what you do…not one bit. And congrats all around to you and your client on that film deal. WOW!

  7. Darcy McKenna said:

    LOL Kristin! Isn’t funny how we can be going along just living our life and subconsciously making certain assumptions and then get hit upside the head with something like this? Almost like someone is saying “Hey! Are you paying attention in there?”


  8. Church Lady said:

    Congrats on the film offer!

    Funny how that humble pie gets served up when you least expect it 🙂 I had a 6th grade student once call me a ‘fancy pants.’ I was stunned, but it was a great reality check.

    Love your blog.

  9. stat girl said:

    As most of you may or may not know, I take on only 3 or 4 new clients a year—if that.

    Okay, this is depressing (for someone who doesn’t have an agent). There aren’t that many agents that represent fantasy and who have verified fantasy sales. Most of those already have full client loads and probably don’t take on that many more clients than Ms. Nelson. Most of them also represent other genre than fantasy, and most of those fantasy slots will be filled with paranormal romance or urban fantasy, neither of which I write.

    Let’s see. So we have thousands of wannabe fantasy writers (Baen says they get around 5,000 submissions each year, Del Rey says about 1,900) clamoring for those one or two ‘fantasy’ spots with each agent or (being optimistic) about 100 slots overall each year with good fantasy agents. And then the manuscript still has to be sold.

    Several blogging agents report getting 10,000 total queries each year covering all the genre they represent. Assuming that number is true for Ms. Nelson, any writer has a 0.04% chance of getting her as an agent. Life is lovely, isn’t it? At least if you get Ms. Nelson as your agent, you have a very high chance of getting your manuscript sold.

  10. Anonymous said:

    Anon 11:25,

    Until you learn how to use punctuation, you shouldn’t be looking for an agent at all.

    Stat girl,

    If you’re a good writer, your chances of getting an agent are pretty good. Most of the submissions agents/editors receive aren’t ready for publication yet (because of, for example, the writer’s inability to use a comma), and that’s why they get rejected. If you’re serious about your craft, you don’t have to be in that category.

  11. Linnea said:

    Great news about the film deal. Your hard work paid off. If you’d actually been getting too big for your britches I doubt you’d have recognized the fact. It’s nice to see successful professionals in any field that keep themselves grounded. Certainly easier to deal with folks who do.

  12. Anonymous said:

    And now this anonymouse will wait for the obligatory “they must have been out of their minds to refuse you, Kristin.” *insert sounds of panting and copious drooling.*

  13. ~Nancy said:

    BTW, Rachel, congrats on the film deal.

    Does Linda know something no one (except Kristin, naturally) else knows?

    Congrats on the film deal, Kristin. But who is Rachel, and how’s she involved in this?

    Or is this still hush-hush at this point?


  14. LindaBudz said:

    No, sorry, jerseygirl, the Rachel was my fault! I totally meant Kristin … had just come over from Rachel V’s blog and had her name on my mind!

    This is how rumors get started, huh?


  15. Heather said:

    Your post, Kristin, is (irony of ironies) the very reason why this author was crazy not to accept your offer.

    Every time I read your blog I am impressed by your humanity, humble attitude, and willingness to give insight to aspiring authors.

    Should I ever be so lucky as to receive an offer of representation from you, you can bet those britches of yours that I would accept!


  16. Anonymous said:

    At Yale we used to call the uneven pavement surrounding campus “humble stones” for a reason. You’d be walking along, thinking you were really there, a Yalie, the best of the best, the cream of the crop, (insert platitude straight out of the president’s welcome speech to freshmen)…

    … and then you’d trip and fall flat on your face in front of everyone, and remember, nope, still just me. Not really THAT special, after all.

    Still stays with me after 25 years. Maybe it was the most useful lesson I learned.