I like to think of literary agents as if they are anglers with a very good fishing rod, with the best bait in the world, but in the end they are still only anglers. As a child of the country I know very well what angling or fishing is all about. Angling is about ten percent preparation and ninety percent waiting. One must be patient if they desire to catch a fish. Fish are fickle, and they often are not biting.
My agent presented This Broken Earth to a publisher at the end of February, but as my agent told me, she did not have much faith in the book because it is a post-apocalyptic story and there are currently billions of post-apocalyptic stories flooding the market. It's a hard sell, or to use my metaphor, we are angling with the wrong bait.
So how do we speed up the process? We don't. We wait, we are patient, we support our agent with good words of encouragement and wait some more. This angler of mine is sitting near a very big pond with many large fish in it and she doesn't have to go very far to fish there every day. Eventually she will catch something. In the literary agent game, sometimes we don't get a bite at all, some days we pull back an empty hook, and some days we land a giant fish...or maybe even a small one. One thing is for sure (and the agent knows this) if she doesn't catch anything, neither one of us eat.
My agent is not only looking for ways to publish This Broken Earth, she is also linked in with the film and television industry and is looking for projects for me to do with that industry. She is reading the first two chapters of my current WIP and will respond when she has time to do so. Until then, I'll be patient. Very patient.
Some things not to do:
- Don't send endless e-mails, annoying them with random thoughts. They are very busy and need to filter their e-mail for you anyway.
- Don't get upset with them if they don't e-mail you right away. Be patient and wait for it. They will get back to you.
- Don't quit writing. Work diligently on your next project and hope that it's something that is marketable. Your agent can help you with that.