by Tamela Hancock Murray
Since I wrote last week about when your agent may make you slow down, I thought this week it might be fun to write about why your agent may make you speed up. Now, speeding up is never, never to occur at the risk of writing less than your best. Story craft, along with care and attention to detail, are always musts for fiction and nonfiction. But there are times when we need to speed up.
Many is the time that I receive notice from editors looking for submissions when they need to fill a slot right away. Perhaps they are working on a special Christmas project, or a contracted author has been unable to meet a deadline. They may call on agents they know to be reliable with a list of equally reliable, talented authors, to help them fill that hole right away. So when your agent calls and says, “I know you’re working on a suspense/historical/devotional manuscript. Are you able to meet a deadline of two weeks from now for an editor in need?” At this time you can either accept, decline, or even ask the agent for another two weeks or so. Working with your agent, you may gain a well-deserved contract more quickly than you expected, along with the gratitude of your new editor. This is a very good reason for authors to work with agents, because agents tend to be privy to this type of inside information.
Anyone who’s worked in an office knows that committee meetings don’t always result in a clean verdict. Sometimes a preliminary meeting means more work for an author before the proposal can or should be taken to the next level. As you might guess, this is an easy example of the “hurry up and wait” business that is publishing. The next meeting is without fail scheduled within a few days. Is it always a great time for the author to drop everything to tweak a proposal? No. Is it always a good for the author to do so? Yes. It is hurried times like this where an agent is critical in being sure the editor gets the essential materials she needs to go into her meeting, ready to answer the committee’s questions. If all goes well, a contract will be offered.
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:45)
Unexpected events happen to us all, and they can drain the living life out of us. Sometimes we not only must deal with an event itself, but the errands and cleaning up after the event can take weeks, months, even years. Who wants to write a romance when we aren’t feeling loved, or who has the energy to write about adventure when nothing seems better than sleeping for a couple of weeks? This is when an honest and open relationship with your agent will be your oasis as you seek refreshment in the unrelenting desert. Your agent can offer encouragement, prodding, and help in getting you back on track so your career doesn’t become as dormant as Rip Van Winkle during his twenty-year nap.
Have you experienced any of these scenarios?
What other times would you want an agent to encourage you to speed up?