Red And Green Flags When Querying Agents with Agent Emmy Nordstrom Higdon

The Manuscript Academy Podcast

With Agent Emmy Nordstrom Higdon

We are thrilled to welcome Emmy Nordstrom Higdon, agent at Westwood Creative Associates, to talk with us about the red and green flags when querying agents–how you can show (mostly) green flags, recognize agent red flags, and give yourself the best odds of a positive, productive working relationship.

Learn more about Emmy and book a consultation here:

**Emmy’s #MSWL (00:00:35)**
Emmy discusses their soft opening to queries, their genre preferences, and the type of writing they’re looking for this year.

**Top Reasons For Rejection (00:07:07)**
The challenges faced by authors in querying, including the lack of research and the competitive nature of the process.

**Query Letter Length and Precision (00:13:31)**
Emmy and the hosts discuss the ideal length and precision of query letters to capture an agent’s interest.

**Query Letter and Comps (00:19:50)**
Importance of query letter personalization and clever comp selections.

**Agency Agreement and Communication Style (00:28:54)**
Discussion on agency agreements and the importance of effective communication style between authors and agents.

**Online Presence Expectations (00:34:03)**
The significance of an author’s online presence and the issue of leveraging agents during the query process.

**Editorial Style As A Red Or Green Flag (00:38:38)**
Agents and authors discussing editorial changes and flexibility, green flag indicators.

**Honest Communication (00:40:21)**
Importance of honest communication in the author-agent relationship and the manifestation process for finding the right fit.

**Author-Agent Questions (00:42:32)**
The significance of authors asking targeted, specific questions, and the red flag of excessive or generic queries.

**Agent’s Questions and Interest (00:43:26)**
The importance of agents asking relevant questions and showing interest in an author’s goals, with red flag indicators.

**Author Vulnerability (00:46:42)**
The value of authors expressing fears and concerns, and the agent’s response as a green or red flag indicator.

**Unrealistic Promises (00:49:13)**
Discussion on agents making unrealistic promises and the red flag it presents for authors.

**Decision Timeframe (00:49:59)**
The reasonable timeframe for authors to make a decision when receiving an offer from an agent.

**Nudge Process (00:55:20)**
The nudge process, its impact on agents, and the balance between author’s anxiety and clear communication.

**The timestamp’s title (time it starts)**
short description, with max 20 words, of what is covered in this topic.

**Agent’s Response Time and Prioritization (00:57:11)**
Discussion about agents’ response time and prioritization of manuscripts based on genre and offers.

**Communication and Politeness with Agents (00:58:15)**
Advice on maintaining friendly and polite communication with agents and understanding their workload and time constraints.

**Editorial Expectations and Red Flags (00:59:52)**
Exploring editorial expectations, red flags related to agent’s editorial approach, and the importance of aligning expectations.

**Expectations and Realistic Publishing Goals (01:02:07)**
Discussion on setting realistic publishing goals, understanding audience expectations, and potential red flags.

**Agent-Author Relationship and Expectations (01:06:02)**
Managing expectations, dealing with rejection, and ensuring the agent’s support during challenging situations.

**Agent-Author Communication and Feedback (01:08:15)**
Advice on maintaining open communication, avoiding scarcity mentality, and addressing concerns with agents in a constructive manner.

**Understanding Agents’ Logic and Communication (01:12:13)**
Importance of understanding agents’ reasoning and maintaining open communication for a successful author-agent relationship.

Episode Transcript

Please note: This transcript is auto-generated and may contain some errors. 

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:00:01) – Welcome to the Manuscript Academy podcast, brought to you by a writer and an agent who both believe that education is key. The beauty is the people you meet along the way and that community makes all the difference. Here at the Manuscript Academy, you can learn the skills, make the connections, and have access to experts all from home. I’m Julie Kingsley. And I’m Jessica Zimmer. Put down your pens, pause your workouts, and enjoy. Yes. I mean, please introduce yourself.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:00:35) – Hi, I’m Emmy. Um, I actually will let you in on a little secret, which is that I, uh, soft opened to queries today for the first time in maybe a year. I’ve just starting my fifth year as an agent, which is wild to think about. So. And I don’t know that my tastes have changed that much over the last like five years. I’m always looking. I mean, like any agent, I think I’m always looking for like something new and surprising. I love the weird queries that make me look twice.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:01:00) – The weird or something is I can almost guarantee you it will intrigue me. That’s like catnip for me. But I do represent across age categories and genres. I love thrillers. For a long time my tagline was sort of was murder is my comfort read, which is still very true. I love like, formulaic murder mystery type style, and I think the thing that I often tell people about, like just because I do represent so broadly, is that our agency is very well known for sort of our history and like literary fiction. So although that’s not the majority of what I represent, I tend to do more kind of book club, upmarket style writing. But as an agency, the thing that kind of ties us all together is that we really, really appreciate sort of line level writing. So that’s, you know, if you feel like you have kind of a poet in your ear while you’re writing, that’s sort of usually where my sweet spot is, is really, really sharp, smart, lush writing.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:01:54) – So yeah, the one thing that I’m not doing is diving into the romantic pool. As much as I have read a lot of romances in my life, I don’t feel like I am expert level on that on that path, like some people are. So I am staying out of it. But other than that, I’m pretty open. So yeah.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:02:13) – Oh, I imagine you get lots of good things.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:02:15) – Yeah, I spent last year really like focusing on the clients I already had and not kind of looking at a lot of new things. And so I’m really excited this year to have the space to be able to open up some spots on my list and see what’s new. And yeah, I’m excited. Yay!

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:02:29) – Well, I hope you get some wonderful things. And I’m so happy to have the world premiere of Emmys to series in our time.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:02:36) – What can I say?

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:02:37) – I gotta scoop fresh inbox. So we had asked you to speak about agent Red and green flags, and I think you are the perfect person to talk with about this, because you always approach things in this really nuanced way.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:02:53) – And we had some really nuanced questions from a writer who was writing to us. And I was thinking, wait a second, this is a this is a podcast topic and awesome. And I think there’s so much overlap here between, you know, finding the agent who’s going to be a good fit for you and a good business partner, and also hopefully someone you like talking with. And also the overlap of just deciding what kind of people should be in your life in general.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:03:19) – Yeah, totally. I think that, yeah, the thing I always tell people when they’re querying me is that my biggest priority for me and for authors, is always finding the right fit. And like, it’s not easy to do. It’s really, really challenging. And I’ve definitely, you know, I’ve had some relationships with clients where right away it’s been clear once we’ve started working together. Oh, this is not actually how we both wanted this to go. And, you know, in some cases we have parted ways. In some cases we’ve adjusted and it’s, you know, we’ve moved on to have a great relationship.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:03:49) – But it’s definitely easier when you can find the person that you click with especially, you know, if that is able to build over time. Because sometimes obviously people’s goals grow and change, and you’re not always going to be the same writer that you are now. But I think that finding people who you feel like you can trust and talk to you and have a good relationship with is like, probably more even important than their sales skills and things like that in terms of having, you know, like maintaining good mental health in this, like very challenging industry. Like, I love the idea of doing both green and red because and there’s also things in the middle that are like totally neutral. I mean, as subjective as it is, I think that sometimes people and I mean, I think all people, because we’re also used to getting rejections, right? Like, you are really afraid when you’re writing a query or when you’re submitting something, sometimes that there will be things that are like red flag, red flag, red flag, but then you don’t always think about the things that balance those that like make people like extra happy to see what’s in their inbox.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:04:45) – So I really like that idea.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:04:47) – I like that too.

Julie Kingsley (00:04:48) – Yeah, yeah. And I think it’s like that you see that in live conferences sometimes where like raise your hand when you’ll stop reading. Oh, and then the first there’s four words and people are like their hands are already. That was four words.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:05:03) – Yeah, that’s a little soon, even for me.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:05:05) – Yeah, well, I think there’s a idea that if you are just critical enough of the wrong query or the wrong agent who is offering representation, then you will always be 100% safe. And there is no such thing.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:05:19) – No, it’s all so subjective and I find it interesting. Sometimes I get things back from editors, even like reminding me like this is just one person’s opinion. Or just because it doesn’t fit on our list doesn’t mean I didn’t like it. Like you’re on the right track. And I feel like sometimes it does feel like, you know, there’s so much rejection around us all the time that like, it feels like there must be like a right way, but there is not a right way, you know, just like there’s not a totally wrong way.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:05:42) – So it’s some it’s. Yeah, it’s hard to nail sometimes for sure.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:05:46) – I would argue there are a few totally wrong ways, but.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:05:49) – Well, you know, there’s always going to be outliers. But I think it’s difficult if you’re somebody especially like in this context, I feel like a lot of the people who I talked to through Manuscript Academy, even if they’re like early in the process, they are being mindful about it and they’re researching and they’re learning, you know, and I think once you’ve hit that point, generally speaking, I don’t see a lot of I don’t think I’ve ever seen a query that I’ve read that I’ve been like, oh God, this is like an absolute no. Like everything about this is wrong, you know? So I think that like, as long as you’re approaching it from that place of like improving and wanting to do the best you can, I think that that’s a good place to start from, at the very least.

Julie Kingsley (00:06:26) – Well, I was thinking about this when we had our three day submission class, and it’s always is great.

Julie Kingsley (00:06:31) – It’s always busy. We have really smart people. And afterwards a couple people reached out to us and they said the odds are still really hard. The odds are really hard. But I was wondering this, you know, we keep seeing really good work come from the Manuscript Academy. Really good work. And so what, like when you look at the odds of getting published, right, it’s it seems like it’s really hard. But then what percentage of query letters just from the get go, I mean, like, is it, is it like like 50% haven’t done any research. Is it 20% haven’t done any really. Do you guys have any.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:07:05) – Sense of that?

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:07:07) – Yeah.

Julie Kingsley (00:07:07) – I mean it’s because it’s like there’s so many people that just like quickly write a book. It’s not under industry standards. They haven’t they it’s just random who they’ve they’ve queried. They haven’t done their research. But everyone has like that idea. Everyone has a book in them. Like if you go to a party, everyone’s like, well, I have a really good story.

Julie Kingsley (00:07:24) – You know, like you hear that all the time and like, how many of those people are kind of clogging up? Is it like cholesterol? Is it like clogging up the lines, you know?

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:07:34) – Yeah. I mean, I’m sure every agent has a different answer to this because all of our slush piles are going to look different, but definitely like the way our slush pilot Westwood works is that everything comes in centrally, right? So if it’s your turn to go through the slush pile, you’re looking at everybody’s. And so yeah, like we get a huge amount of unsolicited, like I would say, generally speaking, like at least 30 to 40 queries a week per agent. So like, I mean, every day when you go in there, there’s like a couple hundred at least. Right? So man, probably yeah, I think 50% might be conservative to be honest, because there are a lot of people. And not to say that all of those are even bad, but just to your point about like having done research and having like thought through the process in terms of people who just like randomly send off, well, maybe I’ll publish this.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:08:20) – Yeah, I think 50 is probably low. Like, and some of those are great books, you know, and some of them even are like experienced authors who are great writers who just like, have have no idea what querying is about. And so you get these like kind of cover letter esque emails, you know, that are like, they’re not what you would expect from a query, but it’s somebody being like, you know, I’ve published here and here and I have this book idea like, it’s not all stuff that’s like, I would just like get rid of it, but it is stuff that people are like. Clearly they don’t know what the process expectations are at all, for better or worse.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:08:55) – So a couple of years ago, I know at this point, gosh, more than a decade ago, um, yeah. So years ago, I was invited to be on a panel and I was unclear on the concept of a panel. So I thought the reasonable thing to do would be to get three months of data and make a pie chart.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:09:15) – I mean, I love that for you. I would have been excited about that.

Julie Kingsley (00:09:18) – I mean, it’s kind of nerdy, but I love it.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:09:20) – So I show up with this rolled up poster board and I’d done the thing. I was like, remembering math class, how you make like the correct angles for the percentages. And it was in the high 60s of queries that had no research whatsoever. You know, either I was completely wrong in terms of the genre for it, or the format was completely wrong, or they didn’t know how agents worked, or they said, Dear Editor, or so it’s a very, very high percentage of what we get is people who are not doing basic research. Now, obviously, not everyone has time away from work and family obligations and other obligations to put in the time to do that research. So I think it’s only fair that we acknowledge. That, yes, it is a steep learning curve. It is a complicated industry. It is needlessly opaque, needlessly complicated.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:10:08) – It takes years to learn everything that you need to know. But yeah, to know enough to get a query to a research place, that’s going to be a couple of weeks at least of a few hours a week figuring it out. And so not everyone’s going to do that for whatever reason.

Julie Kingsley (00:10:23) – It’s great news for people out there. You know.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:10:25) – It is reassuring on some level, right, to know that if you’re starting from a more educated place, you’re already like within the top 40% of what’s landing in people’s inboxes. Yeah.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:10:36) – Yeah. On the other hand, it’s like if you’ve got three minimum wage jobs and three kids, you’re probably looking at that number and you’re like, oh, how am I going to do that? Yeah, yeah.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:10:45) – It’s true. I do think there is also like a certain percentage of people who just don’t even realize that it’s competitive, you know what I mean? Or that they should be doing research. So there’s always I feel like we do get some of those queries that are like people who even some I’m sure I’ve sent rejections sometimes being like, just go out and Google this process.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:11:02) – I don’t know that you know how this works or like that. You’ve looked into it and maybe your book is great, but you need to like kind of start from a different point than you’ve started from.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:11:11) – Do you remember that site? Let me just Google that for you.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:11:15) – Yes, exactly.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:11:16) – So, you know, when you when you start in publishing, you’re often an assistant. And I was functionally a receptionist for a number of years. And so I’d answer the phone. And I remember this one time this woman was asking all of these really basic things, and I was happy to help her for like ten minutes before I knew I was clogging up the line and I’d get in trouble. In case, you know what, if a client came through with something urgent or you know what? If someone called to tell my boss that the lunch meeting was off and I missed it, and then she gets all the way to the restaurant, you know, things like that. So at that point, I was just like, okay, so, like, the good news is a lot of this is online.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:11:49) – You can you can just type it into Google and you’ll get the answers you need. And suddenly she’s like, well thanks a lot. And hung up. Oh oh wow. That’s harsh. Thank you. Um, so like that’s out there too. There’s a lot of thanks a lot B word. Yeah. Energy out there too, 100%.

Julie Kingsley (00:12:09) – I was thinking of this the other day. Jessica, do you remember when you were in Maine and we had what was it like? Bon appetit. Said the best tuna fish sandwich in the country at the Palace Diner.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:12:20) – Oh, yeah.

Julie Kingsley (00:12:21) – Right. And it was such a simple thing. It was like tuna fish. Right. And it was. But it was the best. It was.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:12:25) – Good. Yeah.

Julie Kingsley (00:12:26) – Tuna fish, you know, and it’s really good, right?

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:12:29) – And it’s in a train car that was mine.

Julie Kingsley (00:12:31) – And it’s a train car. So it’s an experience and everything else. But but yeah. So I think like queries are so confined like a tuna fish sandwich.

Julie Kingsley (00:12:40) – Just elevated like the mayo is lighter. There’s a perfect crunch. There’s the perfect spice. There’s a lot of iceberg lettuce. There was like homemade. It was delicious. But you know, but it’s like basically just like a tuna fish sandwich. It’s not. But it is, you know, it’s like, okay, if 3 or 4 paragraphs, each one has a specific, you know, tool that you or is it a tool or you use tools within each paragraph to do something to communicate your work. And you know, with that it has to be kind of just enough. And so mi the age old question, we get some flack sometimes when we say, yeah, 350 words or less, we get pushback all the time. What are your thoughts on that? Do you have like do you allow more for fantasy or do you like it as clean and as precise as it could be?

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:13:31) – Yeah, I’m like a clean and precise person. And I also get some pushback from authors on that sometimes, even when I’m like, when I’m consulting on queries and things like that, I always tell people three paragraphs.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:13:41) – The whole point for me is to like, get you to the writing sample, right? The goal is to intrigue people enough about your idea that they’re like, okay, I’m this is worth investigating. And so to me, like, you don’t actually want to spend that much time in the letter if you can. We’re all so busy. We all have so much reading to do. This is like the perennial feeling in publishing all the time, and I would rather be reading your writing and reading your letter, you know? Yeah. So I mean, it’s great if people have a perfectly crafted letter. I’m not going to say that’s not satisfying. But at the same time, if I’m reading your letter, if I have ten minutes to look in my inbox and I’m like, heading out to lunch or something, like, I want to spend those ten minutes reading something cool, not reading a query letter, you know? So in a perfect world, yeah, like it’s a quick read and then you get to the good stuff.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:14:26) – So absolute maximum like you want maybe 450, but I think 350 is a good benchmark to aim for like even 300. It’s great if you can get each of those paragraphs to like 100 words ish. You know it. That’s the magic for me, because then you get all the information you need, like quick and easy. You’re not like digging around for something that’s ultimately like kind of boring because you want to get to the actual written part.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:14:49) – I like that, I like that you say that we can either spend the time on your query or your pages, and wouldn’t you rather we are reading your actual book?

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:14:56) – Yeah, I mean, in a perfect world, I’d have time for all of it. You know, that would be great, but I. I think a lot of us, like I know that queries for me have to come after my client work because we’re always prioritizing what’s time sensitive for the people we’re already engaged to work with. So to me, if I have that time at the end of my day, I don’t want to spend it necessarily reading about comps and numbers of words.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:15:18) – I’d rather be like diving into something that I’m loving. You know?

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:15:22) – I’ve started thinking about the concept of a frictionless query on a frictionless first chapter. Oh, I love that.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:15:28) – Yeah.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:15:28) – And that you don’t want us to have a moment where we’re like, wait, what’s that? Maybe I’ll go Google it and then we don’t come back or wait, how does that work? I guess I have to read it again. You don’t want that or wait, how does that go with that? I don’t like that, I don’t understand, I’ll move on or the just the general. If I was going to take a pop quiz on this, I would fail.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:15:46) – Yeah, absolutely.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:15:48) – All of those are things that can knock someone out of your query completely needlessly, and they’re usually fixable. And going back to the tuna fish sandwich, I’ve been thinking about it in terms of cake. So we’ve got cakes which you absolutely need. You’ve got icing which is nice. We’re very fruit.

Julie Kingsley (00:16:02) – Orientated.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:16:04) – And here for lunch this is going to happen.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:16:05) – And then you’ve got sprinkles which you don’t need at all. But they’re nice. And then I guess you’ve also got like the little animated characters on top. Very divisive. Are you going to set it on fire or you can use fireworks. Are they going to be the candles that don’t blow out? All of that is up to you, but I think most writers focus too much on the sprinkles and not enough on the cake.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:16:24) – Yeah, and I feel like a lot of people get really caught up too on like, if it’s not in the query, I don’t think I’m going to find it in the book, which is not true. One thing I always tell people, like in editing in general, is like cutting out words that you don’t really need, right? That’s always like a basic to me, but like in a query letter, so often people need to include like feel the need to include the characters first name, last name, occupation, age, like all these things. And I’m like, I assume if I read a 300 page book, I’m going to get that information eventually, but do I need it before I even start the book? Is it that the fact that the character is 27 instead of 38, is that essential to your plotline? No.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:16:58) – Cut out those three words move on like and in some cases it is. You know, if you’re writing whatever a Ya, sometimes it’s nice to know whether somebody is in their last year of high school versus their first year or whatever. Sometimes it makes sense, but in a lot of cases I’m like, I don’t need to know, like all of these details, every character, every, you know, plot point where the person lives, like, give me the essentials to, like, hook me in. But like, beyond that, we know there’s a book coming. You know.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:17:26) – I think there’s also a lot of moral perfectionism. And people are worried that can.

Julie Kingsley (00:17:32) – You define that? Define that for everyone?

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:17:34) – Oh, that’s tough. I think of it in terms of people thinking of every little tiny detail having to absolutely, 100% line up between their query and the pages and feeling as though if they possibly give a false impression or it seems like something happens faster or slower, or if they don’t tell us everything that we need and we might be surprised, it’s almost as if they’re worried that we will think that they’re lying, when really, I’m not going to be that detail oriented.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:18:03) – I’m going to be. Do I like the vibe of this? Do I like the writing? Cool. Onto the pages.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:18:07) – Yeah, I feel like people feel that way too, about writing multiple versions of a query letter sometimes. I have definitely told people, especially when people have books that are like sort of within a couple of different genres, maybe. And I think that when they’re querying agents, they might want to like frame it in terms of one thing or another. So like, for example, I don’t do a lot of like really hard sci fi, but I do work on books that are speculative. That said, like some people will want to work with an agent who their only thing that they do is sci fi. They’re like very, you know, nation specialized. So if you’re querying me versus querying someone who has that kind of an approach, probably you’re going to want to frame the letter a little bit differently, because I don’t necessarily work just within that genre. Somebody who does work in a very specific niche, you’re going to want to situate your book within what it is that they do.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:18:56) – Right. People seem to think that that’s dishonest in some way. And I’m like, no, like, books are so subjective, like there’s so many different ways you can frame and pitch a book for a different reader, for a different audience, for a different agent. And just because you have that level of versatility, it doesn’t mean that you’re lying to anybody. It just means that you know that your book can land in a number of different ways. And I think that that’s totally fair.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:19:18) – Yeah, there’s no 23 and me for your books genre. It’s not going to be like you are 23% book club. You are 45 is amazing. It doesn’t right now.

Julie Kingsley (00:19:30) – Send it to us 23. It’d be about your book.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:19:33) – It doesn’t exist. And I think that it’s smart, as Emily says, to if you have a book that could be 3 or 4 different genres, look and see what that agent does the most and call it that. I don’t think that’s lying. I think that is bringing to the forefront that elements that are already there.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:19:49) – Well, then I think.

Julie Kingsley (00:19:50) – Like.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:19:50) – Yeah.

Julie Kingsley (00:19:51) – Possibilities. Right. I think we were about to say the same thing.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:19:54) – Yeah, yeah I agree. And even as an agent looking at it that way in terms of submissions I’ve sent. You said a little email. Usually, along with your submission, I usually write a personal note if I know the editor well, you know what I mean. I think it’s the same thing. If you’re querying, you want that person to know that you know what they’re looking for. And because that’s different for everyone that you know, query letters are going to vary a little bit from person to person. I’m not going to get super mad if, like, I reach out to a colleague and I’m like, look at this cool query I got, and they got something slightly different for the same book. I’m not going to be like, oh, they’re trying to pull a fast one on us, you know?

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:20:29) – No. Absolutely not. That is smart. And also like, even if you call it, in my opinion, the wrong genre, that is a find replace once.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:20:37) – For me that is an easy fix.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:20:39) – Exactly. Although I will say in terms of things that are like very green flags, I love clever comps. Like when I read a comp selection that clearly shows me that people are, especially if it like demonstrates that they’re really well read in their genre, or at least really well researched. I guess I can’t know if they’ve actually read the books that they’re, you know, comping to or whatever, but I like it when comps are like very precise, like very specific because I’m like, oh, you know, exactly like what you’re trying to do here. And maybe the book doesn’t quite get there, but the fact that, like, people are thinking that much about it, I find like, super exciting to me as like someone who I’d really like to work with. That’s always a good indicator.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:21:18) – I also think it’s interesting because I met with one writer today who I’d met with a couple months ago, looking at a new version, and I had completely forgotten that I had, just for reasons that I don’t understand, thought of this one particular niche book for her, and I set it to her this time and she’s like, oh yeah, you mentioned it last time.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:21:36) – And it’s almost as if books can have conversations with each other, and you don’t know why until you read them. And I’m really hoping she gets it and tells me why my brain went there.

Julie Kingsley (00:21:48) – It’s kind of like it’s like the trees talk to each other, you know, like in the forest. The trees have a whole root system underneath it. And I think that the librarians and the booksellers and the kids and the readers are the book clubs or the root systems. And that’s that’s what’s so interesting about, you know, like, I know you like to this. So how about this? Or when you have a good relationship with your librarian or the people at the bookstore and they just kind of know they walk in, we have a new one. Check. Go check it out. You know, and that is what a comp is like. There is like real comps, but there’s also like just the world infrastructure.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:22:22) – Oh, 100%. It used to be way easier for me to do comps when I was working as a bookseller than it is now.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:22:28) – It takes so much more work now because I spent I used to spend all day thinking that way. Right? And it is totally like those making those associations between like, you know, like, oh, if you like this author and you know, there isn’t something new by them, okay, who else you know, like those little and it’s it is really hard to articulate sometimes. I think that a lot of people think plot when they think comps. And that’s not necessarily where my brain goes at all. Usually it’s tone or writing style, something like that. And if people get like weird and creative with it, sometimes I like that too. If they could picture, you know, one of the characters in their books, like kind of coming from the same family as a character in another book or something like that. I’m like, oh, that’s a neat way to think about that.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:23:08) – Yeah. It’s also going back to the idea of the trees and their roots. I, I’ve heard that our brain structure is a little similar to tree roots as well.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:23:16) – And it’s funny how much we store in there and forget about, have you ever had a song come on the radio and it’s 20 years old, and somehow all the lyrics are still in your brain, and I think that happens with comps too. I the other day I thought of the Stephanie Plum books, and I hadn’t thought about those in like years. And, you know, it suggested those to an author. I hope she reads those and hope she tells me why my brain went there too. Um, but I think it’s one of those things where it’s easier to do by human, um, you know, librarian versus going on Amazon and typing in keywords, though certainly worth a try. But those out there who are really stuck with your comps, you could head over to our Facebook group and ask our smart writers about, you know, here’s my query. Can you think of any comps or can you think of any books like this? So yeah, Manuscript Academy dot com slash Facebook for our free Facebook group there.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:24:05) – That’s awesome. Yeah. Because I always tell people like, the best way is if you have a really good relationship with a librarian or a bookseller, they’re always going to think about things that won’t come into your mind. It happens for me all the time, but not everybody has that in their area either. So sometimes being able to pick other people’s brains is the best way.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:24:23) – And also, you know how they talk about and I don’t think this is true, though I imagine it’s gotten flight attendants lots of free coffees. You know how they talk about going in and you’re like, hi, thanks so much for being here. Here are for latte. It’s for everybody. And people think it’ll get them upgraded to like first class. I doubt it, but sure, I’m not opposed to people giving out free coffees. Um, safety concerns for the flight attendants aside, I know I was gonna say, actually, that’s really dangerous. Now that I think of it, if I played attendants, I know we’re.

Julie Kingsley (00:24:54) – Like, I think that’s a plot. I think you just created the plot.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:24:58) – That is a possibility. Are.

Julie Kingsley (00:25:02) – Security comes knocking.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:25:04) – Oh dear. Someone a sealed coffee. Anyway, I imagine there’s a technique for befriending one’s local librarian in that vein too, that hopefully also won’t bring down a plane.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:25:15) – People used to bring us treats at the bookstore where I used to work, and we always really appreciated it. That, I will say.

Julie Kingsley (00:25:20) – When my kids were in high school, the term was what’s good. You know, instead of like like, how are you doing? Like what’s good? And I was like, that’s the perfect going into the bookstore. Like what’s good? Tell me, you know. Yeah. And that’s such a great conversation. Well, I read that one, but, you know, like, sometimes like a really popular book I won’t love for whatever reason, you know, and there’s, there’s a kind of famous one right now and it’s just I don’t know why it, it just, it carves into me.

Julie Kingsley (00:25:48) – And I told the bookseller that and she was like, same. And, and we just had this moment in the corner of the bookstore, you know, like, we’re all different, you know, so they’re gonna they’re gonna try to suss you out once they do. Totally. You know, you can have the most amazing conversations about books. And that’s really where the magic in the book world is.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:26:07) – I always find it interesting to to ask if, especially if you have a really good little bookstore, like one that’s well curated or even like a Barnes and Noble, where you know that, like people, they’re really busy, like that sort of thing. If you go in and just ask them, like what other people are buying, because there’s a huge difference between, like what? Especially in bookstores, like big chain stores where they have sometimes like contractual incentives to put things out front and things to like, sometimes there’s a huge difference between what’s on the front table and what they actually see moving at the door with customers, you know, like sometimes when I was at the bookstore on New Release day, we’d unpack something and it would be gone in the first day and I’d be like, what is this? It’s just those unexpected gems.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:26:46) – But I think that booksellers are great for knowing, like those things that people are picking up on, maybe more than the media is or more than the sales reports might tell from the initial couple of weeks.

Julie Kingsley (00:26:57) – Yeah, so curious and interesting, right? How content moves in and people change and like with whatever’s happening in the world and it’s so precariously delightful.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:27:07) – Yeah, yeah, comps are also interesting that way in terms of thinking of it in terms of red and green flags, like when people pick comps that are just super, super popular like that. For me, it’s not a red flag, but I would say it’s something that like, makes me wonder how the person is thinking about their own kind of writing journey. Because obviously, if you’re a writer, I would think that you would have read things other than those books. You know what I mean? Things that would have inspired you in different ways. And so when I see, like, you know, Gillian Flynn and Dan Brown or whatever, I’m like, oh, that’s it’s such a like surface level answer that it makes me wonder, like why you would give it if you, like, are really trying to sell your book sometimes.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:27:46) – I mean, obviously it might just be an experience. It might be people being like, oh, these sold really well. And I also wrote a thriller or whatever. It’s a very simple way to answer the question, but sometimes it sort of belies people who are trying to do less, trying to like, sell their book more than write it. I guess I don’t know how to say that. Well, but, you know, they’re thinking more about the sales aspect or the commercial aspect than they are about their own craft or their own trajectory. And I always want a little bit more than that.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:28:13) – Yeah. I was reading recently about somebody who interviewed people extremely well, had an incredibly high success rate of hiring exactly the right people for the job. And he said that the way that he did it was that he asked people what they liked about it and listened for a very specific answer. Because when people are really good at something, they’re really good at one specific part of it.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:28:36) – Oh, interesting.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:28:36) – Yeah.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:28:37) – So I think that level of specificity is generally confidence inspiring. People talk a lot about red flags, and we’ll get to those in a moment. But what are some green flags say? An author gets an offer. What are they looking for? That should just make them be like, yes, this could absolutely be the person I spend my career with.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:28:54) – Yeah for sure. I mean, so I would say that for most of these questions, there’s going to be like kind of a hard answer and a soft answer because there’s always going to be like things that are, you know, industry business kind of standards that unfortunately, like are not very well articulated across the industry. I think it’s very hard to find good information on what you can expect. And then there’s also just the personality stuff, which is going to vary obviously from person to person for this one. On the hard side, like having a good look at the agreement that you’re offered on paper, having a couple people read it over.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:29:27) – If you know someone who has a good eye for legal stuff, it doesn’t have to be like a formal lawyer review, in my experience. But just somebody who can sort of tell you what sorts of things to look out for. So, you know, just the basic there shouldn’t be any fee for service, that kind of thing, aside from the commissions, but initial in terms of payment, you shouldn’t be paying an agency anything unless they’ve already, you know, sold your book or had it acquired, unless there’s a really good reason for it. You know, if it’s shipping for something, then maybe. But in general, there shouldn’t be a fee for service, generally speaking, like our agency agreement at. Westwood is like a page. It’s pretty simple, maybe two pages, but it’s there’s not a lot to it. You know, it’s fairly basic. And I think that that’s pretty standard within the industry is to have enough detail in your agency agreement to know what you’re really getting into without having a whole bunch of restrictions on what you’re able to do.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:30:19) – So I would say, yeah, make sure you give it a read over. If you have another author friend who can take a look at it and ask lots and lots of questions. And I would say that that’s a green flag, is somebody who invites you to ask all those questions and to discuss the details with you, because your agency agreement is like the most basic agreement you’re going to get from the publishing industry. Ideally, from that point forward, you’re looking at like much more detailed contracts and making much more nuanced decisions. So I think somebody who’s able to like, really explain the terms and conditions of your agreement to you in like, not only like a factual way, but also like a practical what does this really mean in terms of how we work together, all of that kind of thing? And then, of course, you definitely want to follow your gut in terms of people’s personalities. I would say if you’re having a hard time approaching your agent or getting a hold of them, sometimes, you know, we have to be reasonable about these things.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:31:08) – People are super, super busy, so sometimes it does take some time, but I think that you can generally get a sense for what you’re comfortable with in terms of level of communication, style of communication, and you should never feel super, in my experience, super intimidated or super negative about interactions that you have with an agent early on. That doesn’t bode well for the future of working together. You really want to feel like you’re on as much as possible, kind of an equal footing, you know what I mean? For a professional business relationship, it’s obviously not going to feel like you’re besties right up front, but I think you should at least feel comfortable talking to someone about, you know, the details because they’re going to be lots of details to come, ideally, and especially like editorial conversations, financial conversations like those are difficult to have with someone who you don’t feel like you can approach or discuss things with. So yeah, yeah.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:31:58) – I really like the idea of watching how they respond to the questions you ask about the agreement, because you don’t want someone who’s you don’t understand that.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:32:09) – How are we going to work together? Oh my gosh, it’s just basic. Just read it. No, you don’t want that. You want someone who’s really good at explaining what all of this means and the likely practical applications for how this could play out. So you can say, does this mean that if I do X, will y happen? You can do that, but try to get it translated into practical terms that you can easily understand totally.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:32:33) – The other thing I would say is like communication style. I’m really upfront with everyone that like generally speaking, I do most of my work by email. I’m most comfortable, especially when it comes to things like contracts and things like that. I find it easier to give people accurate information if I write it down first. So if people like their number one go to for communication is let’s hop on a phone call, I’m probably not the right agent for them. I get anxious about the phone. I like to like schedule calls a little bit in advance, that kind of thing.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:33:00) – And that doesn’t mean, you know, I never hop on the phone. Obviously, I do it as much as, you know, my clients need. But in terms of a first step, I usually like to try email first. And so I find that being mindful of that, if you’re the type of person and you know about yourself that you like to be able to like, pick up a phone and call someone whenever, when it’s convenient or you like to text message or you like to email knowing that you know you’re going to have to work with that style for your whole relationship together. It’s good to have those expectations up front, too. So, you know, if you’re emailing someone and getting no response, but they always answer your phone calls, that’s one way of communicating, right? So you want to make sure that you’re comfortable with that or vice versa. If somebody texts you all the time but you hate text messages like you want to have that conversation early on because there’s lots of different ways to approach working through these things.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:33:48) – Can I play.

Julie Kingsley (00:33:49) – Devil’s.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:33:49) – Advocate? Yeah.

Julie Kingsley (00:33:50) – So so this we’re looking at, you know, writers looking at agents. But what are some like red flags or green flags when we turn it around. When. Yeah. You know, like when you’re looking at a writer that you’re thinking of representing.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:34:03) – Yeah. I mean, so there are so many obviously. Like I think so one thing I always tell authors to be prepared for is that an agent is going to Google you. I think for any job at this point, people should probably know that. But in terms of a business relationship, it would be sort of silly not to write. So sometimes I don’t Google people if they’re like referred to me by somebody else if I feel like I can trust that person. But usually I do. Sometimes it’s to like see if, you know, they have bylines that they didn’t tell me about. Sometimes it’s to see like how active they are on social media, that kind of thing. But people are always going to.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:34:38) – So I would just be mindful of your online presence and what you’re posting about yourself. Always. Publishing is a very forward facing industry. You’re at some point probably going to be expected to have interactions with authors or with readers on some level if you’re an author. So whether that’s social media or not or, you know, whatever else you’re involved in in your life, make sure that that you feel like you’re being portrayed accurately or you’re. Train yourself accurately. But for me, like the biggest I think the most challenging thing I have in terms of the query process is if I feel like I’m being leveraged, that’s something that I’ve become a little bit sensitive about over the years. And I think a lot of people are and a lot of agents are, but we don’t really talk about it very much. But it’s that sort of thing where, you know, if an if you feel like an author is working with you through the query process only to get opportunities from other agents, like I am 100% for pursuing all of your opportunities.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:35:32) – Like, definitely take as many calls as you want to take. Like I said, like for me fit is huge. So like I always encourage people, talk to everybody. Like if you’re getting lots of opportunities, like definitely feel them all out. But if you’ve gotten five offers to have a call from an agent and you know that you’re not going to take my offer, you already know. Like I would rather work with one of these three other four other agents, then be respectful of people’s time to because it’s it’s really challenging to make that kind of time and emotional investment in a relationship and then have someone turn around and say kind of for no reason. Oh, by the way, this other agent, I’m like, I’m going to go with them. And it’s awesome. If, you know, to me, I’m like, I always wish people congratulations. I always wish people all the best. Sometimes you have a call with someone and they just aren’t the right person, but sometimes you line up 4 or 5 calls and you already know that you’re going to take one of those offers, or you’ve already had a formal offer that you’ve said yes to, and you’re just taking it to kind of be polite.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:36:30) – You don’t need to do that. You know what I mean? Make sure that you’re like, really following kind of your gut and your heart on that one as much as possible.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:36:36) – And if that happens, I think it’s completely fine to just say I had a conversation with an agent. We really connected. I’m going to say yes to them versus I liked everyone better than you.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:36:46) – Exactly. For sure. I actually had a conversation with an author this week that I thought, like, they handled things super well. We had been talking for like a while. They were recommended to me like quite a while back, but I was quite backed up on queries at that point. And so I had kind of put them off for a bit and we had talked a little bit, but I had finally I really fell in love with their writing. I finally set up a call with them. They also, in the meantime, got two offers of representation, and they sort of said to me, you know, I’m really sorry.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:37:13) – It’s been really great getting to know you, but I’m looking for an agent who lives closer to me, and I don’t think it would be fair to either of us to take this call, even though, you know, we already set it up. Like that, to me, is so respectful to be like, okay, if you already know that this isn’t going to be the right thing. Yeah. Don’t you know, don’t waste your own time and also don’t maybe put the agent through that of having to answer all these questions and kind of be on the hot seat and then turn around and be like, oh, actually, I never was going to say yes to this. You know, that’s challenging for me. But I like to hope that you can sort of tell when people’s intentions are good and they’re exploring their options. I try to be as transparent with people as possible when they’re going through the process, too. So if I think I’m going to make them an offer, I’ll I will be really clear about that.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:37:58) – If I want to talk to them more, and I want to kind of see what kind of editorial they would be comfortable with that kind of thing. I’m open about that to. I’m not 100% sure about this book, but I’d like to know more about you. I’d like to know more about the book, that kind of thing. And I hope that authors can be that way as well. You know, I am querying multiple agents. Cool. That’s totally fine. But I’m querying my dream agent. They’ve already made me an offer. And, you know, I’m still kind of using the fact that I have other agents interested to get their attention. That’s less fine.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:38:26) – Yeah, yeah. And that’s something that authors might not know other authors are doing. I was thinking this morning about the advice to set a boundary and see how people react.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:38:36) – Oh, that’s a great suggestion.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:38:38) – Yeah, but I also don’t think authors should manufacture a problem just to see how people react. So what I was thinking might be the ideal situation if it happened organically, would be if the agent suggests an editorial change that you’re not sure about.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:38:54) – If you either say, could we do it another way? Would you be open to alternate methods of doing this? If it comes to the same conclusion or if you just have another idea in mind, if you pitch it and see how they react. And I think the biggest green flag here would be if they say, oh yes, and we could do this. Or you want someone who’s flexible and not a you will do it the way that I say, because it’s my book now kind of reaction 100%.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:39:23) – Yeah. I think discussing editorial style is a really good idea when you’re looking at picking an agent or when you’re an agent looking at which authors to work with. Earlier, when we were saying there’s no right or wrong answer to a lot of these questions, editorial style is one of those things. People work really well together, or people have really different styles, and you have to learn to compromise, right? And I’ve worked with both. I’ve had people who, you know, like I send out my editorial and I get like, happy rainbow smiles back.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:39:50) – And I’ve definitely also had people who, you know, like really struggle with it. So it’s good to kind of explain to people like what your process is like. And I think it is a good thing to have a conversation. Especially since you’re pitching a book anyway, you know what I mean? To sort of think about what kinds of changes would the agent want to see in that project and how flexible are they, and what’s their rationale to like? Is it just taste, or is it for some other reason, like marketing or, you know, like trends in the publishing industry, like those sorts of things?

Julie Kingsley (00:40:21) – Well, I think it comes down to honesty. And I think that’s if you’re having an honest conversation and, you know, if someone’s saying this to you as a writer, I think some people will say they’ll say yes to anything because they’ve been working so hard to get an agent. When you finally have one in the shoot. Yes, of course, you know anything you want, right? But in the end, it’s it’s not that.

Julie Kingsley (00:40:43) – Right. And so I think going into this process knowing you want an honest communication, sometimes we hear that the Manuscript Academy like someone wants critique but they don’t really want critique. The whole idea that if you as a writer, you spend all this time in your query, you spend all this time when you’re writing, but really thinking of your learning styles, what kind of relationship you want. And then I think there is like a manifestation process. I know that’s kind of like a hokey word, but if you write down what you want, it’s going to help you make the decision as you move through this. And for sure, it might mean you have to say no to somebody because it’s just it’s just not going to work. But at least it’s an honest I need someone that is like this, and I think it just makes everyone happier. I think in publishing, without the element of honesty, you know, then we’re missing a lot of growth opportunities, but also to have the type of career that we all want to have.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:41:37) – Yeah. I will also say in terms of red flags, green flags, something that I find really interesting is what questions people bring to the agent call. I do want people to have questions, you know what I mean? I want people to be asking for the things that they need and the things that they’re curious about or that they don’t understand. But there’s a big difference between, you know, like I googled for three days straight and I have this enormous list of questions that the whole internet tells me I have to ask every single one of them versus like, I have, you know, 4 or 5, like really thought out specific personal questions that are important to me. And I think that that to me is like a huge green flag for an author when they have questions that are clearly pertinent to them or that they are actually wondering about, and it can be a big red flag when people have so many questions. You know, to me, I’m happy to answer as many questions as I possibly can, but there’s a certain level of trust in the relationship, too.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:42:32) – So you have to, at some point, get to the point where you believe in the person you’ve decided to work with more than what you just see randomly on the internet. And I think that being able to get the information you need versus and balancing that with sort of what’s possible to answer to in like a one hour phone call can be really helpful. And then on the flip side, I think agents should also be asking you questions if they have nothing that they want to know from you except like, how can I sell your books? That’s not, to me at least an ideal scenario. Like I know that some agents are very sales focused, and if that’s what you’re looking for, then maybe that’s all you need. But at least knowing what they’re interested in about you and how you work, I think, is it can be a red or green flag. If they’re asking you a lot of questions that you’re, like, super uncomfortable with, run for the Hills, you know what I mean? If they’re absolutely not interested in your goals either, or what you’re looking for, I think that that should be a big red flag.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:43:26) – Unless, you know, specifically like this agent does only this, and this is exactly what I want. But even then, like you should be able to have a conversation to establish that. You know what I mean? So yeah, I think listening to the questions that you’re being asked and outside of just giving an answer, that’s honest, but also in terms of like what those questions lead you to believe about their relationship down the road, that can be a really valuable indicator.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:43:49) – I think a yes and response from an agent is usually a green flag.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:43:53) – Yeah, I agree, and especially when people are able to sort of articulate needs that they have, if you’re able to ask if people are able to accommodate you, I think that’s great no matter what the need is. So do you like a lot of editorial feedback? Awesome. Are you like asking your agent, you know, are you able to provide that level of feedback? What level of capacity do you have to support your clients? Do you work with assistants? Do you not? Those kinds of things, depending on what you’re really looking for? I think that those questions, yeah, the agent should be excited to give you their answers in a lot of ways and should be like looking forward to the possibilities.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:44:27) – Not so much seeing, just like where they have to draw lines and limits, right?

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:44:31) – I think it’s also sometimes wise to share a little bit of business casual vulnerability and see what happens. So if you say, I am scared that we will send the book out, and what if nobody takes it? Does that mean I’m fired?

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:44:50) – Yeah, for sure. That’s a totally reasonable question to ask. What do you do when a book doesn’t sell? Because that happens frequently, right? I mean, nobody likes that to be the situation, but. I’ve had clients for whom, you know, the first couple of books we’ve taken out, we haven’t gotten any response from, but especially because the perspective of my agency is very much that we’re like with a client for their whole career, ideally, so we don’t give up on them after their first book. But there are agencies that have different approaches than that and agents who have different approaches to. And it might also, you know, if you take a book out on submission and it doesn’t work, and you can sort of see that it’s because of the relationship not working, is there is it reasonable for you to be able to back out of that relationship and seek other representation? What does that look like? What’s that process like? You know, I think that all of those are useful bits of information to have.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:45:42) – Yeah. Also important to look at the termination clause. Yes. Or agency agreement. Make sure that they can’t keep you forever. Make sure that they do not own your ideas forever. Yeah. There is a I guess orange flag in that. Some contracts do say that we can’t control if another client comes up with a similar idea, which is true, they can’t control it. But be very careful about things like that.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:46:07) – Yeah, I would tend to agree. And also there are some termination clauses that will have specific, you know, like lengths of time for which, you know, like an agent controls, like the royalties of a book, depending on, you know, depending on what the arrangement is. It’s just good to know what the expectation should be.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:46:27) – And also just in terms of if you’re bringing up things that you are afraid of, you could theoretically, I don’t think would cause any harm to think about what part of the process is the most scary to you. And if you are comfortable, say, I am afraid of this part and see what they do with that.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:46:42) – If they just say, oh, you’re being unreasonable, don’t worry about it. If you feel dismissed, red flag. Yeah, if they’re able.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:46:48) – To hold.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:46:49) – That feeling and make you feel better.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:46:51) – Green flag yeah I agree. And especially they’re able to offer what they can do in that situation. You know what I mean? Because for me, if somebody were to tell me that something was is scary for them, that to me indicates that people would need like offers of what kind of support can we provide and what kind of support can we not provide so that, you know, authors know what they need to try and have around them during that time, too? And I think having those expectations upfront can be so useful, because if you know that you’re going to need, you know, I don’t know, like extra support from your family and friends. Like, that’s good to know right off the bat.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:47:25) – Yeah. And of course, unfortunately, we don’t have time to give every client a pep talk every day.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:47:30) – I wish, but no.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:47:31) – Yeah, we don’t have the time or the energy for that. So it’s not that we are. I mean, I guess a little bit we’re scanning for is this someone who can contain their own feelings about this to some degree. And just every so often I have to give them a pep talk. Totally fine. Completely expected. I think it would be unreasonable for an agent to be like, oh, well, that’s just not my job because that’s every creative person. But I think we’re also looking for, you know, you’re looking for an agent who will make you feel respected and supported, but also won’t necessarily have time to do that every day.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:48:04) – Yeah. And honestly, if an agent claims that they’re going to have time to support you all the time, no matter what, blah, blah, blah, that to me is a huge red flag because that just means they’re not using that energy appropriately within their job. Right? We are to obviously like, it’s good to have a working relationship with people where we can encourage each other, but we’re also not therapists.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:48:23) – So there’s a limit to what you can do. Usually if I hit that limit with one of my clients, what I’ll try to do is provide resources as opposed to saying, like, we can keep talking about this. I’ll sort of be like, listen, like this is kind of like all I have to offer you. But like, here are some other resources you can check out or like, maybe you want to talk to like other like your writing group or whatever. You know, if an agent is talking as though they have no limits. That’s also, I think that’s equally unhealthy as having too many limits. So it’s good to know kind of whether your needs and their capacity are similar.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:48:56) – And another thing that I just thought of, I think it’s a huge red flag. If an agent says I will sell this in a month or oh, I will, I will make sure that you sell 100,000 copies or get you the the best deal of anyone out there. I will get you in advance of this amount of money.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:49:13) – I will get you royalties of this amount. I will have you sold in 23 territories in the next year. These are all things people can’t promise, but people do. And especially when it’s a competitive multiple agent situation. Like, we know that there are some authors out there who will take the person who promises the most and expects the least editorial work. So that’s kind of the technique. If someone is just going for getting someone to say yes, they will make huge promises and they will say no, it’s perfect. No, no need to do any work at all and I’ll get it out tomorrow.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:49:45) – Yeah, not a great sign in my experience. Oh, can you talk.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:49:48) – A little bit more about like time scale for this? Because I think a lot of agents, a lot of authors are worried that they’re going to talk to one agent and feel like they have to say yes the next day.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:49:59) – Yeah. I mean, I get that a lot too. And I find that stressful as an agent.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:50:04) – And also like from the author’s perspective, I think one of the hardest things that I struggle with as an agent is when someone comes to me and says, I have one week to make a decision, and I know that, like, the root of that is that the author is actually feeling the pressure to make a decision. Right? So if you get an offer from an agent and they say to you, like, I want to know by tomorrow, that’s not a great sign. They’re not giving you time to consider your options. They should really be saying to you if they’re giving you a time limit, it should be reasonable, is what I’m trying to say. Normally what I say to people is that, you know, if they need time to think, I just say take however much time you need and get back to me. Because for me, I don’t see myself as working on a super tight timescale with someone I’m interested in working with because we do these career contracts, right. So ideally you’re working with someone for years, not for like weeks.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:50:53) – And so if someone takes a month to make a decision between a few options like that to me is fine. Or maybe you’re traveling, maybe you’re sick, maybe you’re a parent. Like people have a lot going on, you know? So to me. But it’s nice when people say, you can expect to hear back from me in however much time like that’s. I think for me as an agent, like a super green flag for an author when they’re like organized. And that doesn’t even necessarily mean that I expect them to have an answer in that time frame. It’s just nice to know, like when I’ll hear back from them, you know?

Julie Kingsley (00:51:20) – Is there a standard, is there a standard time? It’s like two weeks for three weeks.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:51:25) – So I hear two weeks from people. But then as an agent I find that really tight. Like if somebody came to me and said, you know, I sent you a query last week, I would love to work with you, but I need you to make a decision in two weeks, like in a normal work week, that might be fine, but if I have like a book coming out that week or if, you know, yeah, if I’m sick, if I whatever, you know, like two weeks is not that long.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:51:47) – So I usually suggest to people three weeks, I think that’s a more reasonable window. And I also appreciate it when people give flexibility. So like and I try to do this as much as possible with authors. Two is to sort of say, you know, I would love to be able to give an answer to this person in three weeks, but if you need extra time, let me know, you know, or yeah, my hope is to have this done in two weeks. But if that’s not possible for you, please communicate that to me in that way. At least you have a reason. You know what I mean. If you have to go back to another agent and say, I would like a few more days to consider this, it should never be a problem to me unless it’s like if you’re asking for six months, you’re ghosting people. Obviously these are unprofessional things, but I think three weeks generally is what I recommend. And then if people do need extra time, being able to say that I think is also useful and helpful.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:52:36) – And it used to be one.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:52:38) – Week, I know, which is wild. I don’t know how people.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:52:42) – You get the email, you’d throw everything off your desk, you’d cancel meetings, you’d print it out because yes, we did, sorry trees. And you would just read the heck out of it and be like, great, I will talk to you Thursday. And I think a lot of that was I mean, on the one hand, that did kind of benefit the author because it was like, who’s dedicated enough to do that for me? Then again, if someone was faking an offer and you threw everything off your desk that week, I mean, obviously we couldn’t send howler mails to them or anything, but it was it was cause to be really, really mad, really stressful.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:53:18) – Right? I mean, you do and I have been in that situation where people have had competing offers. You kind of have to decide whether you’re able to like, make that commitment or not, right? Reading a whole book in a couple of days and like making a judgment call about it.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:53:31) – That’s a lot of mental energy in like a 72 hour period. Yeah, I can do it if I have to, but there are limited circumstances under which I’ll say yes to that now, because I have had bad experiences with it in the past. And yeah, I find that to be, if not a red flag than like an orange flag.

Julie Kingsley (00:53:47) – How do you know if someone’s faking an offer? I mean, because you both brought that up. So it happens, right? Sometimes.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:53:53) – Sometimes you can tell. Sometimes the timing is weird. Sometimes you look at the project and you’re like, really? You have 12 offers, which is again, just a guess. Sometimes they give a name of an agent who theoretically offered and you’re like, but they don’t even work in that genre.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:54:10) – Yeah, I have had like really obvious versions of that too. Yeah. And I’ve also had people who they’re not necessarily faking it, but they’re like stretching the truth. So they’ll sort of say, oh, I have another agent interested.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:54:24) – So I need a response in a week. And I’m sort of like, okay, do you have an offer? Do you have a call? What does that mean exactly? And it’s that kind of statement to me is just explicitly to put time pressure on you. That’s how it feels anyway. Being on the receiving end of that, unless you have an actual reason to need me to respond that quickly. If you’re saying like I have interest from other agents, can you get back to me in 2 or 3 weeks? That to me is much more reasonable, but like a shorter timeline than that, it is sort of a red flag to me because I’m like, I think you’re just rushing everybody. If there’s no concrete offer, if there’s no concrete deadline and you’re just talking about interest like that. To me is sort of like, uh, I’m like, I don’t know what this means. And that level of uncertainty is like, not a great way to start a relationship, right?

Julie Kingsley (00:55:07) – Yeah, yeah.

Julie Kingsley (00:55:08) – So I have a follow up. This is a question we get all the time. We’re talking about red light, green lights. Tell me about the nudge process for you, what you think about it and how often you can nudge before it’s annoying.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:55:20) – Oh gosh, I hate it when people nudge me. But part of that is because on our website, it says to give us a certain period of time. Honestly, we’ve changed it a couple of times recently, so I’m not 100% sure what it is right now, but it says we take X amount of months to consider a query. It’s a long window. And so for me it’s hard because if people are nudging me a lot within that time frame, I’m like, we’ve already sort of talked about this, you know, like the first nudge, I’ll just remind them because I’m like, people read a billion websites. Like, I don’t expect people to remember the details of every single query if they get back to me. And it’s been like two weeks, I’m like, guys, folks, I’m sorry, but we say months, not weeks.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:55:59) – You know, you got to give me some time and most of the time people will be like, oh, sorry, I didn’t realize whatever. But but then if they keep nudging me, then that’s a struggle. That said, if people if I’ve been in communication with someone during that time and they have nudged me a couple of times, I would say just, you know, remember that from the author’s perspective, like you’re sitting and waiting. Whereas I have like a list of a million things to do and you’re on the list. I’m not going to forget you. So it’s I think it’s balancing that kind of anxiety with, you know, being like a clear communicator. But if somebody nudges me and says, you know, can you give me a timeline? I find that more helpful than just like, why haven’t I heard back from you? When will I hear back from you? What’s going on over there? You know? Oh, hey, just checking in. That’s the quintessential, you know, but if somebody asks for a timeline and can be respectful of that, then that’s fine with me.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:56:51) – Yeah, but I would say the initial nudge is like the barometer for me. If people are really demanding versus being sort of inquisitive or understanding about the flexibility or the amount of time that’s needed. But I do think one nudge is a reasonable thing in any situation, to be honest, because things do get lost in the internet sometimes, and it’s important to know that you’re not getting lost.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:57:11) – So yeah, usually it’s at three month increments I think is reasonable. Is anyone going to hear back in three months on their manuscript? I guess some people will, but I think on average it’s taking a little bit longer than three months right now. Yeah, I thought of a reason an agent might want to hear back soon that is actually legitimate. What if they’re considering two works in in a similar genre, and they know they can only send out one this season?

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:57:36) – Yeah, that’s a good reason. Yeah. And I also have had situations where I’ve been I’ve had like multiple not multiple offers, but like I’ve expressed interest to multiple people and I don’t want to keep somebody else waiting for six months while I wait for an answer either.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:57:52) – I try to be transparent about those kinds of things. Sometimes, you know, like you’ll have your like top priority. Like, I have absolutely fallen in love with this. And so you want to hear back from that person first, you know, so saying to them like, you know, would it be okay if I check in in three weeks, do you think you’ll have an answer for me within the month? That kind of question, I think, is usually how I try to frame it so that I’m not keeping other authors waiting six months to hear from me.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:58:15) – Or sometimes I just send a I’m really liking this so far. I’ll be in touch soon. Oh yeah, you know, I.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:58:20) – Do that to keep me.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:58:21) – Updated.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:58:22) – For sure.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:58:22) – And in terms of checking in with agents, I think as long as you are friendly and nice and don’t put pressure on them and don’t imply that they clearly don’t have their priorities straight because they’re reading other people’s manuscripts instead of yours. I think you’re usually okay.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:58:36) – Yeah, definitely. Politeness is the number one thing I would say when you’re doing a check in, just be aware that, like people have a lot going on in their lives, not just professionally, but I mean, I know a lot of agents who as much as we try not to, we do a lot of query reading outside of our normal business days, because there just isn’t always enough time to sit and read a whole book while we’re like, quote unquote on the clock or whatever. And so being respectful of the fact that it takes a lot of passion to pursue new clients, and it’s sometimes energy that, like, is really difficult to come up with.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:59:07) – Yeah. And if you’ve just spent all weekend working after an entire week of working to come to your inbox and find someone, be like, well, I just don’t understand why you don’t work harder is very frustrating.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:59:18) – And it’s very easy to send a pass in those circumstances, unfortunately. But if I do feel like that, that’s going to be like the relationship I’m going to have with someone is going to be super demanding and not, yeah, that level of when you said earlier that flexibility is important for I think that’s important on both sides.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:59:33) – You know, you want to be able to get back to people in a reasonable amount of time. But you also yeah, sometimes that’s just not possible. So being understanding of each other’s humanity is is a good starting point I think.

Jessica Sinsheimer (00:59:46) – Yes I agree is it a red flag if an agent doesn’t do blink?

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (00:59:52) – I don’t think so. I think it depends on expectations. You know, like is it a red flag on an individual level maybe, you know. If that’s the one thing that you want from them. I wouldn’t go with an agent who says they’re just not going to do it. So I feel like editorial is one of the big things that comes up this way. Some editors or some agents rather are extremely hands on in terms of editorial, and some have a much lighter touch or like a more hands off approach that way. I think that, you know, if you talk to somebody and they’re clearly not going to give you a level of feedback that you’re looking for, that’s probably a red flag for you.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (01:00:27) – But it’s I wouldn’t say it’s a red flag for the agent overall. It’s just a process difference. If somebody said, I don’t know, I don’t know what would be a red flag. I feel like there are certain things like, I will not email you like, that would be a red flag for me, you know? But like in terms of more general process things, I think it’s just finding expectations that meet your own needs.

Jessica Sinsheimer (01:00:46) – Yeah. Is there anything that if they don’t ask the author or don’t bring it up is a red flag. Mhm.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (01:00:53) – Oh, that’s such a good question. If they didn’t ask about the author’s goals I think that would be a huge red flag for me. That’s the number one thing I want to talk about with people on a call. I mean sometimes it’s a simple conversation, but I think it’s probably the most important one. I mean, especially if you have a client who has, you know, like a certain publisher they want to work with or like an editor, a dream editor, or they want to have something like that.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (01:01:18) – Like you were saying before, agents can’t make promises, right? So being really clear on, like, why do you want to go down this road? What is your end game? Do you want to be a professional author who’s writing a book every year? Or do you want to just publish this one novel? And then, you know, after that we’ll kind of like, see, those are very different approaches to how to work together. And I think that, you know, it can be really, really toxic if you end up with a person who has a super different approach that way. So, for example, if you do want to write a book every year, as soon as you get your first book deal, your agent should be asking you, okay, what’s next? You know what I mean? Because it takes that long to get the second book ready. If you want to be publishing pretty consistently. If they’re not listening to those goals and you’re following up with them and you’re not getting responses, things like that, I think that that can be like extremely frustrating.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (01:02:07) – And that goes almost double for people who are writing things like picture books, for example. That’s something that I really struggle with sometimes with my really prolific picture book authors is those expectations of, okay, I want to be publishing all the time, and this industry is really, really tough. There are a lot of different approaches, but you can you can only submit so much. Right. So trying to find okay, well what are the best choices to make to benefit you the most. And you know, if you’re churning out a book every week, what are we doing with those. Like where are we going from there? So yeah, I think that if somebody’s not asking you about your goals and what your aims are like, that would be a huge red flag to me, because to me, then it means they have a goal in mind for you that they’re going to try to achieve and that’s it, you know? So that would be a difficult one for me.

Jessica Sinsheimer (01:02:51) – And also just to point out, it’s not that agents just don’t feel like sending out a picture book a week, even if they had, even if they have the time and bandwidth and editorial and knew the answer right away and I knew a bunch of editors first, you’d run out of editors because they’d be considering way longer.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (01:03:07) – Exactly.

Jessica Sinsheimer (01:03:08) – And and so you’d run out of editors. Even if you didn’t run out of editors, you’d run into your options in your contracts if you have them. I know some contracts don’t have options, but in general, they don’t love it. If you’re publishing 52 books a year.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (01:03:21) – No, not at all. And honestly, like you would probably at some point, like you’re running into a question of audience too, right? Maybe you can for picture books, maybe you can put out a book every six months, but at some point you’re going to be harming your own career because your sales numbers are going to go down unless you’re, you know, some huge best selling author, like with your debut that like, just manages to ride that train. But that’s so rare, it’s so difficult to achieve that.

Jessica Sinsheimer (01:03:47) – Well, even the pigeon books, there’s not one every six months.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (01:03:50) – No, exactly. I always think of Sandra Boynton, who I think took a while to establish herself as like, I think she could release a book every day and children would.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (01:03:58) – Absolutely. It would boggle their minds, you know what I mean? But there are very few authors that have a formula and an audience that’s like waiting and willing for that to happen, you know? And yeah, like how many authors out there are even remotely as successful as she is? So yeah, I find that’s usually the bar that I think of in my mind of like how many people could achieve that? It’s a small threshold.

Julie Kingsley (01:04:19) – She’s interesting, though, because we were talking about her the other day and she was a pitcher. She was a card maker, right? Like she made, like greeting cards. And so she was used to this like fast turnaround. And she just had, you know, what she did. She had a style. And I love her so much. That’s terrific.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (01:04:36) – Same. But like to to be able to have an audience that loyal that’s like that ready. And also like you almost have to be in a shorter format for that to work. Right? I think there’s like a difference between the casual reader and like most people in North America, like, I know people in my family who who would call themselves readers, who read like four books a year, you know, and if it’s taking somebody like three.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (01:04:59) – 3 or 4 months to read a book. Even if you put out a book every year. 25% of their free time reading is you like, that’s unlikely, you know? So you do sort of have to like, measure the expectations of an audience alongside everything else that you have to take into consideration, which is already a lot. So yeah, I think that having clear goals and being able to discuss them in a way that’s like realistic and also that doesn’t hurt your feelings. Like you shouldn’t have an agent who’s constantly just like, no, we’re not doing this. You know, if they’re saying no to you, they should have a reason and they should be able to explain to you, like why, you know, they’re taking a direction that’s different than, you know, what you might think initially would be the most beneficial.

Jessica Sinsheimer (01:05:39) – And they should explain to you until you understand 100%. Yeah. And it’s also just going back to this issue of time on the other side, I think it’s reasonable for an author to say, do you expect me to respond within 24 hours or sooner? Do you expect me to write a book every year or faster? Yeah, just basic expectations of time, I think, are really good thing to establish early on.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (01:06:02) – And I love that you mentioned like how people deal with rejection too, because I do think that, you know, it’s not always not every book you’re going to send out, no matter who you are, is going to get sold right away to the perfect editor. Beautiful relationship. Wonderful. We all move on, you know, like, I don’t know, a single author who that’s been their experience over the course of their career. And I feel like knowing what happens when a book doesn’t work. Okay. What is do you just move on to the next thing? Do you want to go back and revise and like try and resubmit that book? What is your preferred approach there? What do you expect from me? I think that’s a really healthy, helpful conversation to have.

Jessica Sinsheimer (01:06:36) – Yeah. And just ensuring that the agent will be there.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (01:06:39) – Yeah, 100%.

Jessica Sinsheimer (01:06:40) – Not that you’re likely to hate your editor, but what if you do?

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (01:06:43) – Yeah, it does happen. And even if you love your editor, there might be things that you bump up against that, you know, like even within the contract or within like right now, I know that one of the challenging things I’m dealing with for one of my clients on behalf of them is that, you know, they ended up with a conflicting obligation that nobody foresaw coming.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (01:07:01) – It’s super positive for them. It’s going to be super positive for the publisher. But now, you know, like there’s some timeline stuff that like, needs to be worked out and like everybody is really happy, but everybody is really stressed. And so it ends up being a tense conversation because, you know, everybody wants to make sure that they’re getting what’s best for the whole project, like for the client, for their career, for the book, for that, you know, the path of the book in the lifetime of the book. So everybody gets along super well. It’s a great relationship. I think it’s going to be a super successful book. And also there are these things to work through, right? It’s not always super easy. So you want to make sure that there’s going to be someone there to advocate for you and to listen to what it is that you need and what your priorities are.

Jessica Sinsheimer (01:07:42) – And you could ask a hypothetical, what if I’m on tour and my books don’t show up? Yeah, totally.

Jessica Sinsheimer (01:07:47) – If they’re like two bad publishers.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (01:07:49) – Yep.

Jessica Sinsheimer (01:07:49) – Exactly. All the time. Yeah, but but if you look for too bad it’s the publishers problem, or I will make a call or. Good luck with that.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (01:07:57) – Um, exactly. Yep. Yeah.

Jessica Sinsheimer (01:08:00) – Okay. So I guess just some general advice to wrap up. Yeah. Um. Go slow. Don’t let them rush you. Ask questions until you understand, see how they respond to all of your questions and how you feel about it. And what else are we missing? Some wrap up advice here.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (01:08:15) – I would say like, the biggest thing for me is always like when Julie mentioned earlier that sometimes the authors feel like a huge amount of pressure. This is their one shot. They’ve got an agent on the line. They’re going to say whatever they need to do to make this happen. Avoid that feeling as much as you can. Avoid the scarcity mentality feeling because there are lots of opportunities. And if your book is fantastic and you’re getting an offer as it is, chances are good this will not be your only chance, or your only offer, or your only opportunity.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (01:08:43) – There are always lots of paths. So I would say that have confidence in yourself and try to trust your gut as much as possible. If you get a bad feeling from something, even if that’s just on a on a personal level, it’s if you think it’s going to continue to feel bad, you don’t want that in your life. That’s not going to help your writing. So I would I think that’s what I would say is like the perennial thing for me. If it feels bad, don’t keep doing it. It’s not going to help you. It’s not going to help the agent. Yeah. It’s not going to help your book. Yeah.

Jessica Sinsheimer (01:09:10) – And everyone’s on their best behavior at first. Don’t expect things will get better.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (01:09:14) – That’s a really good point.

Julie Kingsley (01:09:16) – But this was.

Julie Kingsley (01:09:16) – All such great advice. I know our writers are going to really love this podcast in particular.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (01:09:22) – I’m glad it’s a scary world out there. Sometimes it’s really nerve wracking. So I hope that, you know, like having some different perspectives can help people navigate it and feel confident navigating it.

Jessica Sinsheimer (01:09:32) – Yeah, but as long as you do the research, as long as it’s an agent who’s at an established agency and they’re nice to you, and they answer your questions and you understand what they’re asking for, and they explain and they’re calm and they’re not pressuring you in general within those parameters. It’ll probably work out okay.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (01:09:49) – Yeah. And I think, too, one thing that I’ve found over the course of like doing this for a little while is like so many things can get worked out if you just have a conversation about them, you know, and. That might not necessarily mean that you keep working together, you keep whatever. But I’ve had some really heartbreaking experiences where clients have decided they’re just not going to work on a book anymore, or they’re just not going to work with me anymore. And they’ve made that decision without ever kind of bringing an issue to me or talking to me. And that always makes me the saddest, because there’s nothing worse than being in the position of being like, oh, like, I would have done this differently if I had known, you know? So learn from my sadness.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (01:10:23) – Like if you’re if you do feel bad about something, bring it to the people you’re working with and see if it can be worked out. Maybe it can’t. And maybe that’s like the closure that you need. But maybe after a conversation things could be totally different and you could have a much better relationship. So I think there’s always, you know, like a bit of, oh, I don’t want to make people angry and like ruin this or oh, I don’t want to leave a bad taste in people’s mouth. But I think that trying to have those conversations is often more beneficial than not.

Jessica Sinsheimer (01:10:51) – In general, an agent won’t get mad at you unless you’re mean or impatient. Exactly. Or rude or, I don’t know, critical. But if you avoid those, and if you’re just coming from a place of vulnerability, you know I am scared about blank versus why haven’t you done this for me sooner?

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (01:11:08) – Yes, exactly. Or even if you do come with like, why haven’t you done this for me sooner? Like maybe explain why, you know, like, oftentimes I feel like that feeling comes from a place of anxiety.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (01:11:18) – So, like, what is it that makes you feel like it needs to happen faster and maybe focus on that? I feel like this should be happening more quickly because of this. So like, why isn’t it? Or you know, like I feel like that’s a very it’s a valid anxiety to bring to somebody who you’re in a business relationship with. So as long as you can be sensitive to the fact that, like, you know, everybody has their own plateful of stuff, I think that pretty much any question you have is reasonable to ask, as long as you do it in a way that’s understanding.

Jessica Sinsheimer (01:11:44) – And also like there’s like 99% of the time, there’s a really good reason it hasn’t happened yet, and you’re going to be fine. You know, maybe they’re waiting for something to, like, line up so they can, you know, so like just a silly example, but say they were waiting for your award to come through before they pitched you to sub agents, something like that. You know, there’s there’s often a reason that like, we’re waiting for something to happen so that it benefits you and waiting a week won’t hurt you and it could help you.

Jessica Sinsheimer (01:12:13) – So yeah, we’re often thinking about things and we forget to tell you our logic.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (01:12:18) – We’re all out here doing our best for the most part.

Jessica Sinsheimer (01:12:20) – Yeah, I think it’s pretty rare that anyone isn’t. So yeah, I agree.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (01:12:24) – Well, thank you so much for having me. It’s so nice to talk to both of you, Emmy.

Jessica Sinsheimer (01:12:28) – It was so nice to talk with you. And I love that you just you think about things in such a lovely way. It’s almost like your brain’s category is literary fiction. Gosh.

Julie Kingsley (01:12:37) – I agree, I find.

Julie Kingsley (01:12:38) – Myself forgetting that I was hosting this. I was just listening. I was like.

Julie Kingsley (01:12:42) – Oh my goodness.

Emmy Nordstrom Higdon (01:12:43) – You’re too kind. Honestly.

Julie Kingsley (01:12:46) – We are so glad that you joined us. And as always, we appreciate your feedback. Just head on over to the iTunes store and let us know what you think. And not only helps us make this podcast be the best it can be, but it also affects our ratings within the iTunes platform.

Jessica Sinsheimer (01:13:01) – We’d love to hear from you if you’re feeling brave and want to submit your page for our First Pages podcast, you can send it to Academy at Manuscript with First Pages podcast in the subject line.

Jessica Sinsheimer (01:13:14) – We’d also just love to hear from you.

Julie Kingsley (01:13:16) – And if you’d like to learn more about the Manuscript Academy and everything we have to offer, just jump on over to Manuscript


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