It can be a nightmare when your agent decides not to sub a book you've been working on. This articles explores the options open to you
Authors handle having an idea rejected by their agent in different ways. They might decide never to return to the idea again and begin work on another idea they think their agent will like. Or they might ignore their agent and take their idea direct to a publisher. Or it might be the final nail in the coffin of an author's relationship with their agent and the two part ways.
Either way, it's not an easy thing to deal with. But fear not, I've gathered some thoughts and tips to help you.
Are you going to fight for your book idea?
Take some time away from your idea then re-look at it with fresh eyes. Do you have complete faith in it? Obviously, this judgment is clouded when your agent chooses not to sub it, it can cloud your confidence for sure. But in your gut, does it feel like a great idea? If you're not sure, then have a go at writing something else. If the idea of writing something else fills you with horror, or that attempt fails dismally, then there's your answer: stay faithful to your original idea. Unless your agent 'rejected' your idea for political reasons / outside factors which would guarantee its failure, then the simply fact is, it was a subjective rejection. There are plenty of ideas that have been rejected by agents which have gone on to be bestsellers. I've seen it time and again. The truth is, if an agent doesn’t like an idea, then they won’t be passionate subbing it and that will ruin its chances anyway.
So what if you are going to fight for your idea? What are your options?
Bypass your agent
There are a plethora of publishers now who take submissions from non-agented authors. You could explore these publishers and figure out if your book would fit in with their list, and also if they're the kind of publisher you'd like to work with. You could then explain to your agent that you will be submitting direct. You would need to clarify that they would not get commission for this, but if it works out well, they could help sell translation rights. Some agents may oppose this idea and suggest you part ways instead. If that's the case then I have to say, do you really want an agent who won't fight for you?
Is it time to part ways with your agent?
Ask yourself, how long have you been with the agent and have they negotiated other deals for you? If you've been with them a few years and they've secured some deals for you, then your trust in their judgment and the relationship you have with them might mean its important not to be too hasty and leave them.
However, if you haven't been with them long, then it's time for an honest conversation. Arrange a phone call or compose an email asking for more insight into why your agent doesn't feel they can submit you idea, and what they recommend happens next. You can use those answers to make a decision about whether to stay with them or find another agent who might be more in tune with your writing focus.
I hope this is useful. It can be a soul destroying time but don't let one person's decision ring the death knell for your book. It could be the very book that will make your career. Often, it's those books with the most difficult paths that do...