Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
Well, gang … I’ve been trying to get agent representation for my novel, Three for a Girl, for nearly a year now. I’ve queried roughly 115 agents and received a response from 39 of them. Three agents requested the full manuscript, whereas, back in my heyday of querying for agents – say, the late ’90s, early 2000’s – I might have expected at least 10 out of that many queries. A handful asked for smaller partials, but none went on to ask for the whole book.
Yesterday I heard from the last agent holding onto the full manuscript. She declined to represent.
So, alas and alack, I’m afraid it’s time to hang up Three for a Girl and move on. I think a sample size of 115 is plenty to drive home that this market is not going to support this book.
And that’s a shame because, if I don’t say so myself, it’s a terrific book.
Later this spring I’ll start shopping around the next project, which I’ve always believed to be the best work I’ve got. I don’t know its title yet, and I’ll need a damned irresistible one to break through the gatekeepers’ gate. But what I do know is that if this one doesn’t fly, I got nothin’ that the New York publishing business will ever embrace. Just a fact o’ life, I guess.
I’ll keep you up to date on that story as the year goes on …
As a bonus, here’s the response I drafted to the agent but won’t send. Just blowin’ off steam, you understand:
I appreciate your taking the time to have a look at my novel, but I have a sneaky feeling you didn’t read the whole thing, since the dynamics of LeeAnn, Kurt, and Arlene are the least of the challenging elements in this book. Some of my favorite novels feature interpersonal relationships that have made me uncomfortable – that’s what makes those books tick. Here, the dysfunction is the substrate for redemption. And for the reader who makes her way through the whole story in spite of being uncomfortable at times, it works.
Hell, I wasn’t comfortable with the dynamics of Stella, Stanley, and Blanche, but I loved Streetcar.
I’ll be honest. I’m sixty years old. I’ve had a novel published by a New York house (Morrow), and I’ve been represented by at least five agents over the years. I don’t need any “resources” – I’m not about to sit down and write “what agents want to see in their inbox NOW.” I’ve written the books I wanted to write, had to write, and I don’t imagine myself retooling now to try and catch whatever the next wave might be.
It took you three months to casually dismiss Three for a Girl because it made you uncomfortable. I wish you could have brought yourself to read the whole thing and then to provide some thoughtful remarks on why you aren’t interested in representing it.
That I could have respected.