May 10, 2011

After The Call: Lessons Learned From One Year Later, Part II

"After the Call" is a new feature on my blog! It chronicles what happens after an agent offers you representation: how to choose the right agent, how to communicate with your new agent, what the revision process is like, etc. For previous posts in this series, please see the "After The Call" sidebar to the right.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about the lessons I've learned during my first year as an agented writer. Since I tend to be kind of rambly, I thought I'd follow up with another list. And so, I bring you PART II!

1.) On one hand, life does get a bit easier once you find an agent. More than anything, there's a huge sense of relief. Relief that you can stop querying. Relief that a publishing professional believes in you. Relief that your book might actually get published. Finally, you have someone to help shoulder your burden!

2.) But on the other hand, getting an agent brings on a new set of complications and worries and frustrations. After the initial glow of "I've got an agent!" recedes, the Doubt Monsters creep back in. What if my book doesn't sell? What if my agent loses interest in me? What if my agent doesn't like my second book? And so on and so forth.

Don't get me wrong--I'm so grateful to have Jim on my side! But I've learned that getting an agent doesn't make those Doubt Monsters go away. ('Cause those Monsters are a crafty bunch!) Writing books is a tough, tough business, which means writers will face doubts on all facets of their journey--whether they're querying or submitting or working on their twentieth book.

3.) I've often heard people say, "Don't compare yourself to other writers!" I often try to take this advice, but I fail miserably.

Look, you're going to compare yourself to others. Don't feel bad; it happens! There's always going to be someone who gets more offers than you do, who sells their book faster than you do, who gets a bigger deal than you do. When this happens, you'll probably flail your arms. Gnash your teeth. Flail some more. It's okay! We're human!

Just don't let it eat away at you. It's natural to feel a little envious of others but once you start getting heart-wrenchingly jealous then you need to put yourself in a time-out. Take a break! Enjoy life! Don't let the Jealousy Monsters turn you into something ugly.

5.) Finally, don't be afraid to talk to your agent. When I first signed with Jim, I was a little apprehensive about asking him questions. I mean, he was a bona fide literary agent! He worked in a fancy office in New York City! He repped bestselling authors like Carrie Ryan! Surely, he didn't have time for silly questions from little ol' me.

You know what though? Agents are super nice! And patient! So if you have a question or two, open that mouth of yours! Or, you know, open a new email. You know what I mean...

Questions? Rebuttals? Leave them in the comments and I'll get back to you shortly! 


  1. Doubt is bad, but the worst is knowing all of this to be true and still falling victim to doubt.

    One cure is definitely reminding yourself that there are other writers out there struggling the same.

    Love the After the Call posts!

  2. Thanks for giving us permission to compare ourselves to others. :) This is something I do often, and I usually feel petty--but I'm glad to know I'm not alone with my self-doubt.

  3. Comparing yourself to others is ... human. We all do it. It helps us figure out where we fit. Letting it get you down is something you can work on. And by you, I mean me. And also, (the collective) you. Great post!

  4. I second every word of this post! I found new confidence in myself and my writing when I signed with my agent, but those wily doubt monsters aren't scared off for long. That's why we need writer friends to keep talking sense into us! I don't thank you enough for that, by the way. So thank you :)

  5. Great post Caroline! Doubt is such a nasty, nagging thing. It's like dry skin. . . it clears up briefly but it never really goes away for good. My analogies are gross sometimes LOL:)

  6. Excellent post, Caroline. So true. Hey - we're agency siblings, too!

  7. Ah yes, the doubt monster - I know him well. But reading this has given me the courage to send him back to his closet :-)