Friday, December 3, 2010

From the Trenches

Okay, so I was interviewed yesterday over at Julie Hedlund's blog.  The topic was "How I Got My Agent."  Julie and I agreed to cut one question (because the interview was getting long and I was afraid of putting everyone to sleep) but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to answer it..

Has your writing process changed since signing with an agent?

I am dying to hear other how other agented writers would respond this question.  For me, the answer is a resounding YES.  I hadn't really expected it to change.  I assumed I would send her a manuscript and she would give me feedback, not unlike the sort of feedback I was always got from my critique partners  She would tell me what was working for her and what wasn't, and I would revise accordingly. (That is pretty much what happened with my first agent)

But that's not at all how it worked with my current agent.  I'd write a manuscript that I thought was funny and clever and cute, and I'd send it to her, and I'd get a reply to the effect of, "It's well-written.  But I just don't care for the premise."

In those cases, it seemed like no amount of revising in the world was going to her change her mind. This was totally devastating at first.  But after several of these experiences, I realized (or actually, my husband forced me to recognize)...  I HAD to change my process.

So, now.. when I get an idea, I write up a two or three sentence pitch.  I email it and I wait to see how she reacts.  If she is on board, I move forward.  If she isn't, I keep brainstorming.

I hope one day we can revisit some of my "drawer-ed" manuscripts, but for now, this is the way I need to proceed.

Anyone else care to share their answer?

13 comments:

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I don't have an agent yet, but I found this posy really interesting, Corey. Hopefully, one day I can let you know how it worked for me. :-)

Corey Schwartz said...

Thanks, Shannon. The blog police may ticket me for this one, but I feel like the most interesting posts are the ones where people really share the "inside scoop."

T. Anne said...

Wow Corey, you have an amazing agent story! Two of them, really. I'm so glad you're happy with your new agent! I'm dying to know who SB is! I'm racking my brains. And Lord knows I've been guilty of agent stalking. *blushes*

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

Corey, my agent is in between. Sometimes I send her stories and she tells me (to her credit, as nicely as possible) that I'd be better off using it for kindling. Other times, she says she likes the basic idea but it needs work. In those situations she's not too specific (e.g. she's not rewriting for me) but she points me in the right direction. Sometimes I can do it, and sometimes I can't. And on wonderful days, I send her a story that she loves right off the bat - I wish that would happen a little more :) But I trust her judgement implicitly. I don't think she's ever steered me wrong.

Heather Kephart said...

Corey you're so smart for switching things up! Oh, how DIVINE it would be to have an agent to bounce ideas off of. I've got about 300 pitches, lol. (Okay, not that bad.)

I read and enjoyed your interview at Julie's. :)

Rebecca said...

Great interview, Corey! How's that new fractured fairy tale coming?

Solvang Sherrie said...

How interesting! I think it's probably different with each agent, but definitely good to know how the person you're working with wants to proceed.

hy said...

When I was an co-creative director in advertising, my partner and i always preferred that the writer/art director teams that worked for us, sit down and discuss rough ideas, rather than putting in a lot of hours and then coming to us with more finished ideas that, at times, made us nauseous. I also made it a point to not write such long sentences like the one above.

Julie Musil said...

I don't have an agent (yet!) Your new process kind of reminds me of how it seems to work with nonfiction. If you get the go ahead with the idea, then you do the hard work. That makes a lot of sense to me!

Joanne Fritz said...

Wow! I would love to have an agent. One can always hope...

Interesting post, Corey! Here I thought the "pitching" would end once you landed an agent, and from then on THEY would be the ones pitching YOUR ideas to editors. I actually had this romantic idea that once you have an agent, you blithely send her (or him) everything you write...

Inside scoop is always appreciated. There's a blog police? Who knew? *grins*

LadyJai said...

I think this is a wonderful question and should have been left in the original blog post as well. I really enjoy learning about the whole process and any information will be a great help to anyone looking, I am sure. And just reading how different each individual experience is, is quite amazing as well. Thanks for sharing!

Elana Johnson said...

Fascinating. I missed the interview, but I'll go check it out.

For me, I'm doing what you are right now. I have MSs that I know my agent isn't interested in. What I do now is write a query letter (true that) and the first 50 pages or so of the MS. Then I send that, along with a full outline, to my agent. She reads and gives me an idea of where she stands on things.

This seems like a lot of work--and it is. But it's not I've-written-a-whole-novel-and-she-hates-it kind of work. It's a sample. And it's okay to be rough. She expects it to be rough.

Susanne Drazic said...

I'm trying to get caught up on my blog reading today.

I went over to Julie Hedlund's blog to read your interview. It was a wonderful interview, by the way. I also enjoyed reading your blog post.