Pub Rants

Perfect Timing

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STATUS: Starbuck’s eggnog Chai is back! This is a dangerous thing.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU by Mariah Carey

Today I was reading Deal Lunch (a daily email from Publishers Marketplace that lists announced deals) and I noticed a sale for a manuscript that I had passed on earlier in the year and I bet that blog readers wonder how that makes an agent feel. Do we instantly regret the lost sale that we passed on?

To be honest, I have to say it really just depends on how we felt when we read those sample pages.

For example, for the deal I saw today, I simply looked up my notes on the manuscript and I had written a specific message to the author outlining how I saw the talent in the manuscript but felt like it was just over the top for my taste but that I could really see another agent digging it.

Guess what? I was right. Another agent did dig it and found the right home for the author. In this instance, I only felt pleasure for the writer as the deal posting wasn’t a surprise to me.

But that’s not always the case. In fact, just this summer I was swamped and we received sample pages from an author who was looking for an agent after selling the first book on her own.

I read the sample pages and thought the writing was really good but I had reservations on the story line. I kept vacillating on whether I had time to read a full when I had a niggling doubt. I finally decided that I was just too swamped at that moment to ask for a full. A month or so later, I kept thinking about the samples pages and I knew that I was probably going to regret passing. Sure enough…

Several months later, I heard that an agent friend had signed the writer and had just closed a six figure deal. Yep, there was some regret there (although I was also really delighted for my agent friend because she really is the crème de la crème and I love seeing her succeed). We went to dinner and toasted her obvious good taste.

Being snowed under is never a good reason to pass on manuscript but sometimes, that’s the literal truth which brings me to the point of this blog entry. In publishing, landing an agent or selling a project is sometimes about timing. I know. It sucks to hear that.

My dad used to say that to me when talking about love and finding that perfect partner. I just rolled my eyes but darn, he was right. When the timing in my life was right, I did indeed meet my husband. I’m not sure I would have “seen” the great person he is at an earlier point in my life. The timing had to be right.

Sometimes the same is true about publishing. The right project with the right agent/editor at the right time.

12 Responses

  1. Anonymous said:

    Yup! I can go into a long explanation about destiny. The tedious cliche of “everything happens for a reason” is so true, otherwise it wouldn’t be a cliche. Think of life as being a novel or a screenplay. If there are people who you are meant to meet, then you will meet those individuals, no matter what happens because it was meant to be. Also, there is a part about evolution that states that you’re life can only get better, but you have to give it time. Life on this world will only get better, but we have to give it time for everything to evolve. Anyway, just contributing a thought.

  2. Susan said:

    Wow, the timing.
    For weeks I’ve been moaning about the delay of something completely unrelated to writing, but suddenly in the past week three things happened to prove the delay was a huge gift.

    I wrote it down for myself and posted it, to give me courage over rejection! I’m posting your words right next to it.

    Thanks! I love the story of your Dad’s advice.

  3. Yunaleska said:

    The right time happens eventually.

    Yummy to eggnog Chai! Loved the normal Chai last year, hope we get the eggnog version here in England.

  4. sara said:

    Good timing really is crucial for everything in life!!

    I see you revised the list of agent and client blogs on the side of the site. I’m so happy to be able to click to Nathan Bransford’s blog straight from yours (I usually come to yours first and then click through a couple others before getting to his, so now I get to skip a few steps!). Plus you added another one I’ve never heard of, which I’m now checking out. Is Jennifer O’Connell with another agent now? I saw her link is missing, since I usually click on it.

  5. Anonymous said:

    I believe I know both the authors you mentioned. Not too long ago, you also passed on my manuscript. Does that mean I’m going to get a huge deal soon? ;o)

  6. Maggie Stiefvater said:

    Just smiling here, Kristin. 🙂 Everything usually does turn out for the best, though, doesn’t it!

    Plus, I think you were very classy for expressing your doubts up front.