In thinking of what to write about today while my computer is down and I can’t access all of my blog notes, it occurred to me that I should ask a question to our readers that I ask myself often in the line of duty, or in publishing terms, in my life as an agent.
I have been known to go to the end of the earth for an author or a project I love, and one of my first blog posts ever was about the sale of a book that took me 54 publishers to find a home. It’s since gone on to sell over 200,000 copies (if only every publishing story had such a happy ending).
In part this commitment (sometimes verging on insanity) stems from the fact that it takes a lot for me to sign something up these days and if I do, it means either I really love it or I think I’m going to be able to sell it, or hopefully both. And in part it’s because I really just don’t like giving up. It often becomes a mission for me to try to come up with a creative alternative to a book that might not be working as well as I’d hoped. We invest so much time in the development of our projects that I hate to admit failure and say I can’t sell something. Maybe that’s why I’m in the middle of vetting two contracts from publishers we’ve never done business with before!
It’s a trait that often serves me and my clients well, but sometimes backfires too and there does come a time when it really is time to give up and move on. I’m wondering what that time looks like for all of you in your writing life. I know it depends on where you are in your process, but, for example, do you try 5 agents, 10, 20, more? If you get an agent and they submit your book and it isn’t selling, would you rather rethink that book if you get consistent feedback or try something different altogether? How many projects have you stopped when you realized it just wasn’t going to work?
There’s no magic number or answer, and it’s different for each author and each project, but I am curious to hear what you all think about this topic and what your answer is to the question “When is it time to give up?”. And when I say give up, I mean on a particular project, not the dream of being published, which you should never give up on!