I wrote my first novel in 1996. It was arguably the worst novel that’s ever been written, and after I realized that, I began a second one. I joined a writers’ group around the same time, and the novel that came out of that effort was certainly better than the first. So I queried a bunch of agents. (That’s what you did back in 1997). Imagine my surprise when one of the agents responded and asked for the full manuscript. Imagine my joy when, after reading it, he asked to represent me!
I was on my way. I’d snagged a New York agent on my second book. I was pretty hot stuff! As he sent it out, I started a sequel to that manuscript. It was even better than the original. Things were humming along.
Flash forward 6 months. I’d been getting copies of the rejection letters he sent me. But I was still optimistic. After all, it was harder to land an agent than to get published, people told me. Things would eventually work out. I wasn’t prepared for the phone call that came. It went something like this:
“Libby, I haven’t been able to sell your book.”
“I know. But don’t worry. I have a sequel. And it’s even better. Tighter. More suspense. Better characterization. And narrative. And dialogue.”
“I don’t think you’re hearing me. I don’t think I can sell a novel with those characters. I think you need to change your characters. Change your voice. Change your plots. And, btw, I think you need to change agents too, because I don’t want to represent you anymore.”
After I picked myself off the floor, I did what anyone in my situation would do. I drank an entire bottle of wine. Once I sobered up, I realized I had to make a decision. I had now written three books, none of which had been published. Maybe it was time to hang it up. Forget this writing thing.
But I’m a stubborn soul when I want to be. I didn’t quit. I started a new story. With new characters. New settings. And a new voice. That book became AN EYE FOR MURDER and was the first of many novels I have now published.
I guess you have to give the devil his due. That agent was right. BTW, I heard he left the business soon after he fired me.