Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Trust your gut or be damned

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You know that funny feeling in the pit of your stomach? Not the one you get when you're in love, but the one that pinches and pulls you in a different direction than you're trying to go? That feeling should not be ignored. Ever. You may think the feeling will go away as you do whatever it is you want to do. It won't. The feeling will only grow into a beast that eats away at your insides.

Because somewhere along the line, you lost your way. You were wrong.

What I'm about to say is sensitive. Though I think if you can learn by me or circumstances surrounding, that's enough reason to do this. I signed with my agent in January of this year. If you remember, there was no celebratory post, though I'd been "working" with this agent since July of last year. Of course, I like to be low-key when it comes to writing, but also, this agent gave me that strange feeling and I ignored it. At first, it was all surreal. Like WOW I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS IS HAPPENING! Then, slowly, emails weren't returned and finally communication was cut off completely for about three months after the agent had promised revision notes that were never sent.

I was so heartbroken, I stepped aside from writing altogether. Until one day out of the blue, I got an email from the agent asking how the revision was coming along. I was flabbergasted and confused. Even with that feeling still gnawing in my stomach, she finally sent the revision notes and I got right to work. At that point, I wasn't doing it for her. I desperately wanted to transform my story into something amazing, because I knew I could, if someone would just believe in me.

In early January, despite interest from other agents, the agent offered representation. Though in retrospect, it was reluctant. I accepted NOT because I felt she was the best fit, but because I felt like I'd owed it to her for "working" with me for so long. She didn't want me to announce the news. She prompted me to "keep it to myself" and wait until my book sold like it would be sweeter that way, when really, it hurt and I felt like she was ashamed of me. And still, my stomach was burning a firey warning I didn't heed.

Through another round of revisions and a month's(+) worth of emails that were never returned, I decided to finally listen to my gut and terminate the contract. It was hard. I cried about it. A LOT. It felt like I was letting my story, my characters, my DREAM die. But I knew it had to be done. After the official letter, and emails, were sent, she never even responded...

And now, the reason this is all coming out now, is not to bash the agent. I'm grateful for the notes she gave me, and for a short time, letting me feel like I could make it. Recently she [unexpectedly] left agenting altogether, just weeks after I made the decision for myself. AND THANK BERT I DID. It appears as though this agent not only led me on, but (from what I hear) for those clients who were out on sub....SHE NEVER ACTUALLY PUT THEM ON SUB.

I can't even digest this information. I feel terrible for all those clients who didn't opt out like I did, and THOUGHT they were being represented in a good, honorable way. Lack of communication is one thing, but man-oh-man....to lie about putting someone's DREAMS on submission is a whole other level.

So, kids, while querying my beloved story for the last time, sit back and really listen to that feeling you're ignoring. It might be hard. It might suck. But it also might serve to protect you, before you get hurt. It doesn't only apply to writers, either. It applies to everyone with a neglected backbone. I want you to find it, use it and be strong. Remember, no one is in charge of your future, except you.

Honestly, friends, what would you have done here?


Have faith. You're gut will guide you. Promise.


Candylandstilldreaming. OUT.

70 comments:

Creepy Query Girl said...

What a terrible situation! You were absolutely right to terminate your contract and this is a great reminder to listen to your gut. I hope you find the right agent soon Candy!

Suzie F. said...

You are awesome, Candace Ganger. Thank you for sharing your story with us. And when that supportive, dream agent offers you representation one day, it will be so much sweeter.

Matthew MacNish said...

I probably would have had to go murder her. I probably seem all nice and friendly, but I'm actually incredibly neurotic. I don't like being fucked with.

Christina Lee said...

Well. you know very well how *I* feel about this situation. *sigh* This was brave of you to post. You did it for all of us in the trenches. (((((((hugs))))))))

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

You handled it very well. It's so hard to make decisions about something so big--our dreams. I'm sorry you went through such a rough ride but that means karma will be dumping a boatload of good stuff in your lap very soon! :)

Jen Daiker said...

You and Christina are very brave and I love you two girls. You are the most incredible women I've ever met.

You made the right decision. You and I have talked about this and even I have a similiar story where I had to go with my gut.

The truth was I asked a few friends how to handle the situation first and after making the decision I balled my eyes out. I still cry occassionally when feeling slightly defeated but in the end I still feel like I made the right decision. The only reason I would have done it was to say that I had something that several others dreamed of. It would have been rushed and in the end I would have been disappointed. When I need a reminder of what I let go of and how right it felt I visit the website and I realize that it wasn't a right for me.

Oh the hard truths we learn in life.

Liz Fichera said...

Candy, keep truckin'. You'll find the right agent. There are lots of good ones out there. You live and learn. *hugs*

Linda G. said...

Ugh. Shame on that agent! You handled it the only sensible way.

Hang in there. You WILL find the right match one day, and it will be that much sweeter for having gone through an experience like this. :)

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

ugh. I'm so sorry you had to go through that and so glad you listened to your gut. and this:
" I desperately wanted to transform my story into something amazing, because I knew I could, if someone would just believe in me."
I feel that every day. Querying is so hard because we want that agent so bad because we know it is a huge validating step.
I have a firm belief things will go well for you

Jamie Wyman said...

I didn't get out soon enough. Thank you for posting this. I haven't had the guts to post something public yet. (And yes, she never submitted my manuscript even though she said she did.)

The good news: only good things can come from this. Like you said, for a time I had the feeling I could make it and instead of shattered confidence, I have more now.

You are awesome, Candy.

Jessica Bell said...

Wow. That certainly must be hard to stomach. :-/ So glad you listened to your gut, my darling!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again: You are one of the strongest women I *know*. Your courage and strength and HEART amaze me daily, Candace. I'm so glad you did t he right thing.

A couple of years ago I signed with an agency, but it felt wrong. I couldn't even feel excited, so like you, I terminated the contract. It killed me, but I did it. The whole agency disappeared a few months later--just poof! gone. And here I am, still struggling to find an agent, but I know I did the right thing, too. :-)

Heather said...

Oh honey I'm so, so sorry. I've been there and had to do the same thing, under slightly different circumstances. It is heart breaking when you have to part ways with an agent. I'm so happy that you're free now and can move on and find the right partnership, the right road for you. Power to you!

Johanna Garth said...

What a great brave post! Sorry you had to go through that but it seems like you have already learned so much from the experience. Most importantly, trust yourself!

Solvang Sherrie said...

Oh, Candy -- this sucks big ones. I'm so sorry this happened to you guys. I know it had to be painful to write about.

But I know your story was getting interest even before you tentatively signed with that agent. And it's actually a good thing that she wasn't really subbing people's work because now they (and you) are starting with a clean slate when you DO find an agent to represent you well.

Don't give up. You've got something important to share with the world. ((hugs))

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Like you said, all those who didn't get out in time. Now you'll know what to 'listen for' next time. Because there WILL be a next time!

Brianna said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story! I'll never forget it, especially when I reach the point of needing representation.

Wishing you the best of luck in finding a reputable agent that makes your heart sing!

Bohemienne said...

Good on you for taking control. We all want our dreams to succeed, and it's SO hard to ignore that feeling when it looks like the golden ticket is right in front of your face. I hope you find representation from someone fabulous this time around. :)

Nicole Zoltack said...

I'm a firm believer in listening to your gut. If something seems off or shady, it is. If something seems to good to be true, it is. I'm so glad you terminated the contract when you did. Your writing career is important to you and it should be as important to your agent too. You deserve that. I hope you find a real agent soon!

Stephanie said...

Wow...... I'm sorry this happened, but it's good that you can get your work in the hands of someone who will do right by you. Wishing you lots of luck!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

It looks like we both had the same idea for our posts today. We were even talking about the same agent (just not by name). Sorry that all happen to you, Candace. :(

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Oh Candace...The exact right agent is in your future. I'm so sorry this happened to you. You're going to be okay and you are going to find the right agent. I know you will. I believe in you, girlfriend...

(((hug)))

Brenda Drake said...

Oh, so sorry to hear about this happening to you. I would have done the same thing. All you can do is pick yourself and start again, like you have, but now you're all the wiser. Good thing you did listen to your gut! Thanks for sharing this! :D

Talli Roland said...

Wow. WOW.

I can't believe someone could be so dishonourable. Well, actually... sadly, I can.

You did absolutely the right thing, listening to your gut and terminating the contract. And some good did come out of it - your story is stronger, right? It's a battlefield out there, but if you're proud of your MS then that gives you the courage to keep going.

Katie said...

Wow, that must have been DEVASTATING. I'm so sorry! *hugs*

As much as it sucks, you made the right call in the end, and you're that much wiser now.

Wishing you success in the future!!

Shannon said...

I am sorry to hear that this happened to you and countless others. BUT, I love how you're taking a negative and turning it into a positive learning experience. See? You're an optimist afterall. <3

Hang in there, suga. It's going to come together for you. I *know* it.

Lola Sharp said...

I remember when all this was going down (remember our chat?)...I didn't realize you went ahead and signed with her. I am SO sorry.
I hope she gave you some good revisions notes at least.

Hugs and love,
Lola

Tawna Fenske said...

Thank you for being brave enough to post this. What I can tell you from having been through a less-than-ideal first agent relationship is that when you DO sign with the right agent, it will be that much better now because you'll be able to recognize how much better THE RIGHT AGENT is. I've been with my current agent for 3.5 years, and though I've always known she's amazing, I'm not sure I would have recognized how amazing if I hadn't had that first not-so-good experience.

So chin up. It does get better, and I promise you you'll be grateful for this experience.

Tawna

Dianne K. Salerni said...

You know you did the right thing! It was hard, but the hardest part is yet to come. You have to REALLY BELIEVE that this had nothing to do with you, your writing, your talent, or your story. It was HER train wreck, and you were unfortunately just along for the ride.

You are still as wonderful and talented as you ever were. :)

Natalie Aguirre said...

Good for you for listening to your gut finally. Though I am so sorry you had to go through that. But sadly you aren't alone in this situation. I have a friend who had a bad experience with an agent too.

Since you had other offers, it's got to give you lots of hope you'll find a good fit for you.

Kelly said...

Oh, man. I'm sorry you had to go through all that.
You are one strong, smart, talented woman. You will succeed.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Just thought you'd like to know that this was linked on YA Highway--http://www.yahighway.com/2011/06/field-trip-friday-june-10-2011.html

salarsenッ said...

I'm very thankful you've shared this. The whole things sucks, but I know you've got what it takes. :)

Laura Marcella said...

What a bad situation. I'm sorry that happened to you, and to the other writers the agent "represented." Good for you for listening to your gut. Your soulmate agent is out there!!!

Carrie said...

This sounds awful. Isn't it amazing how your instincts can be so right. Thank you for sharing this experience. You are going to find an agent who is as awesome as you.

Krista V. said...

Candace, I came over here from YA Highway and just wanted to say how sorry I am.

You know, I believe I contacted this agent about doing an interview earlier this year, and she remains the only agent I've interviewed or tried to interview who has ever out-and-out lied to me. Sometimes agents agree to do the interview, and for one reason or another, things fall through, but I've only had one agent tell me she sent her answers - even though I never got the e-mail - when, in fact, she never sent them at all.

I'm sure better things are on the horizon for you.

Caroline Starr Rose said...

I had no idea about any of this! Keep truckin', lady. I know you've got it.

Matthew MacNish said...

You should have no problem getting to 100. I'll go mention this on Twatter.

Laura Pauling said...

I can't imagine. I would've bawled too. I try and listen to my gut before even querying agents. If I get a feel from Twitter that we might not be a good mix. But how hard when someone is offering representation and a writer doesn't know if it will happen again - to listen to your gut! Our gut never lies!

Laura Pauling said...

I can't imagine. I would've bawled too. I try and listen to my gut before even querying agents. If I get a feel from Twitter that we might not be a good mix. But how hard when someone is offering representation and a writer doesn't know if it will happen again - to listen to your gut! Our gut never lies!

Magan said...

I am flabbergasted! I had no idea that this all happened! Someday I know that you will find an amazing agent and that everything will work out for you. Pshwah you are already an internet celebrity, in all reality all that you need to say in your query is "I'm Candyland, BITCH."

Jeffrey Beesler said...

That's insane. I'm definitely glad to hear that agent is out of the business. I'd hate to think what would've happened if she had incurred Matthew's wrath.

Valerie Kemp said...

Oh this hurts my heart! I'm so glad you got out, but so sad (and MAD) that this happened. Shame on her. You deserve -and will get I'm sure- SO much better. Hugs.

Alison Miller said...

Wow. Just wow. I am so sorry for what you've been through - pieces of your story are actually things I worry about (if and when the agent thing happens). I am so, so sorry, but I'm glad you went with your gut. Incredible.

Matthew MacNish said...

Just checking back to see how many you're up to.

Jennifer Hillier said...

It makes me so sad to hear this, and I HATE that this happened to you. But I am so proud of you for being brave enough to share this -- your story will hopefully spare others from having to go through the same thing. The lesson here is to always trust your gut, and in the end, you did. There is a fantastic agent out there just waiting to sign you. Keep on keeping on! Big fat hug to you.

Claire Dawn said...

I still can't believe this story. I mean, I consider myself educated on the industry, and I think I know how to spot a fraudulent agent, but it doesn't seem like she showed those signs.

Scary.

Glad you made it through though.

Matthew MacNish said...

47? Where is everyone?

Anne N Kenny said...

I thought I left a comment on this post already?!?

I've been Internet chatting with you for a couple of years now so in my mind Candace = really good friend. This whole situation is incredibly infuriating. I think you handled everything just the way you should have, and I think it's what I would have done too.

I'm grateful so many of our blogging buddies have shown their support. We all love you! (hugs)

Christine Danek said...

Blogger ate my comment. I am so sorry about this situation. I've been hearing stories like this more and more and it's terrible. You did the right thing, and even though it sucks, you are a stronger (and extremely braver) person. I know things will be better and you will dominate the writing world.

Kristi Helvig said...

I'm so sorry that happened to you. I'm a big believer in following my gut in all areas of life. I can't believe the agent wanted you to keep the news to yourself--that's like a guy marrying you, but asking you not to tell anyone! You'll find the right person and you'll be the stronger for it--good luck. :)

Angela Ackerman said...

I think I know who you're talking about and let me say I am so sorry you got caught up in all that. I'm so happy you listened to your gut! It is unfortunate, but at the same time it was an experience and it did teach you something, and now you move forward with your eyes open wide and your heart and mind in tune with what your strongest needs are. I hope you find the perfect match!

I've left an agent before, and so I know it is so hard and there is such a tumult of emotions and second guessing that leads up to it. But once you make the move to terminate, it's always the right decision if questions and worries went unanswered and communication got you no where.

Hugs to you! Again, sorry about this, but you can and will make it--of this I have NO DOUBT! Keep on striving!:)

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

Mairead. said...

Wow. You were brave and right to terminate your contract.
That is an awful situation, and I'm glad you did what was right for you.
I hate people who don't honour their commitments, and not subbing people was just not cool.
You should always trust your gut instinct. It knows the right way

Gina Blechman said...

I'm sorry you had to deal with this, but am thankful that you are sharing your story. Sometimes, we get so caught up in the excitement of possibly fulfilling out dreams that we skip over scrutinizing the people who have promised us those dreams. Thanks again.

<3 Gina Blechman

Theresa Milstein said...

Candy, thank you so much for sharing this story. We writers need to know these horror stories. We feel like the agents are doing us a favor. Though I've heard it time and time again to make sure we're getting what we want out of the relationship too, I don't know if I'd be strong enough in a similar situation.

I hope you find the perfect agent and soon. xo

Sara B. Larson said...

I am so sorry you had to go through that. You are so brave to share your story. Having the wrong agent is definitely worse than having no agent. I truly hope you find the right agent very, very soon.

Hilary Wagner said...

Candy, I'm so sorry this happened to you. I've had other writer friends have the same thing happen to them. And like everyone else said already, you will find that perfect agent. Here's to you for posting this. You are helping lots of other writers more than you know!

xoxo -- Hilary

Michelle Gregory said...

good for you. and i hope you keep working on your story to get it out there.

Elena said...

Thanks so much for sharing this story. I've just starting querying and have decided not to cast my net wide, but rather on who I get a "good feeling" from. It may take much longer than I'd like, but I believe in trusting my instincts. Although I'm sorry the agent was a disappointment but I'm happy you realized it and have learned from it. Here's to much success finding the "right" agent. Trust your gut again, it'll happen!

Abby Minard said...

Sorry I'm late to this Candace, I've been on a bit of a blogging hiatus lately and saw the link to this on Fb. I'm glad you were able to tell your story, so we can all be super sure of what to do if it ever happens to us. It'll happen again- you had several interested before, so you know you're great! You'll find that perfect agent and I hope everything clicks for you!

Rose Cooper said...

I'm so sorry, Candace. I had realized when I found out you had an agent I was like, "when did that happen? I totally missed some big post." For her to say that to you was horrible, along with everything else she did to you and the other clients. Messing with your dreams like that is just...unspeakable. I'm so glad you followed your gut. Sometimes the hardest choices are the best. You WILL find that agent perfect for you. You're a fabulous writer, Candy.

Tony Benson said...

I'm really sorry to hear about your experience with that agent! You did the right thing.

I've learned through hard experience over the years to trust my instincts, and what you've said here reinforces that.

Thank you for relating this difficult experience. It's a reality check that's worth listening to.

I hope you'll find the right agent soon. They're out there somewhere, so it will happen.

Julie Musil said...

Thanks so much for sharing this information with us because I can be naive about such things. Honestly, I don't know what I would have done. I'm glad you made the tough choice for you AND your story. You'll get there, Candy.

Crystal Cook said...

Oh my gosh, I can't even believe that. That's horrible. So sorry for you. But you seem to have an awful lot of courage, good for you. Yes, trust the gut, even if it's telling you something you don't want to hear. A hard lesson to learn, but true.

Matthew MacNish said...

Sitty Fiffzle.

Medeia Sharif said...

Something similar happened to me. It was gut-wrenching to feel ignored and not have my manuscript subbed when I thought it was. Even when I terminated the contract via snail mail, I got no reaction which--on top of everything else--spoke volumes about the agent's professionalism.

Medeia Sharif said...

Also, keep at it, no matter how much this incident hurt. :)

Matthew MacNish said...

Who does a girl have to ball to get to 100?

Mismikado said...

I cannot believe someone would do that! Why bother getting into agenting if you are never going to do the work? Why read manuscripts and offer revisions when you don't ever plan to submit?

I am so happy you got out when you did and I feel so terrible for the clients who didn't :-/ I hope the best for each and every one of you!

Janet Johnson said...

Oh man! Candace, I can't believe how crazy that is. I'm so glad you followed your gut in the end, but ooof, these stories are scary. I hope I have it in me to trust my gut when the time comes.

But thanks so much for sharing! It is good for us to know, so we can be better prepared. You are awesome, and I'm still rooting for your book. It sounds totally awesome!