I think I’ve finally deciphered what my agent meant in his request for revisions of The King’s Indian when he said it lacked a lot of the heart of the first book, The Beggar’s Opera (see previous post).
In fact, now that I read his email in context, he wasn’t saying it lacked ’emotional’ heart, but instead, he was referring to a specific relationship that was AT the heart of the book. Now I get it! He meant the interaction between my Cuban detective and his dwarf pathologist sidekick, which was more prevalent, for sure, in the first book. Phew! I can fix that, and will, now that I understand what it is that he wants, which is for my favourite two characters to spend a little more time together, and for us to spend more time with each of them.
But it does point out the problems with emails, and how easily they can be misunderstood. I took his comments and personalized them; I felt awful for days. (I thought it meant he didn’t like the book, when that wasn’t what he was saying at all.)
Whereas if we had spoken on the phone, I probably would have ‘got’ what he wanted right away, instead of feeling like I’d let him down.
How do you communicate with your agent? Do you get to meet from time to time, or speak on the phone? Is it, like mine, pretty much by emails only? Does it work well? Have you had similar issues crop up where you’ve thought s/he meant one thing, when it was really something else?
Let me know – I’m interested in the author-agent relationship, and the way we tell each other what we need is obviously at the ‘heart’ of that relationship.
What I’m learning with an agent on the other side of the pond is that as convenient as emails are, there’s really no substitute for the phone.