I struggled with this, because I was thinking I might just copy and paste parts of the e-mails I received from agents, not revealing their names or agencies of course! So that you could get a clear view, but in an effort to save space and not shoot myself in the foot I’m just going to paraphrase.
Let’s say Agent Bob, who works at one of those holy grails of lit agencies contacts me and says: My writing is good, my story is essentially great, he points of 4 plot points he considers less than perfect. AND he says HE is totally into the idea of this sort of hipster anti-hero/hero. BUT he thinks Barneby Knotts is all his wild adventures and attitude comes off most of the time as being 17-18-19 when if you look up and catch the pitch. He is 15 going on 16. He asks if we can work together on an unagented revision.
Go Google that, and then all the happily ever afters. This is not one of them.
I am about to type in a “Heck yeah Mr.Da MAN” email when honestly less than 45 min after the first email I received another from a different kind of agent.
Lets say Agent Jane Doe, who runs her own small agency DISAGREES with everything Agent Bob says. Say she thinks my hero comes off at maybe 13, and that I should make him younger. Cut 10k words, tells me my writing is not quite there yet BUT does actually agree that most of my story is good. Wishes the anti hero wasn’t such an ass.
Agent Jane Don’t Wanna Know sent me 7 pages of changes. Wants me to revise and resubmit.
Later- another female agent from a medium sized agency correlated a lot of What Agent Jane Doe told me, that agent to this day is still in my top five. I have no idea if gender plays a role in how agents relate to character ages, but I’d have to say yes.
Now, here is where I screwed up. It wasn’t that I sent out too many queries to begin with, and it came back to bite my miserable butt. The original queries were sent months from each other, and I mentioned to all agents I sent material in to that other people were looking.
The problem was, I tried to do both sets of revisions at the same time. Which was nasty. One of them was in first person (it was originally 3rd) they were both +/- 10k from the original. I didn’t sleep for days. It wasn't there ideas that destroyed my book, but it was that I had no idea how to implement some of them—and that maybe some of them shouldn’t have been there to begin with.
Just because something isn’t working in a book doesn’t always mean their idea is the right one.
Is their a moral to this story? Yes, it’s don’t screw up your chances. Good luck with that. Don’t be me when you grow up. I have been saying I wanted to share this story since I started this blog, but still to this day I wish I could take it back, do it over.