20 Tips for Selling Your Novel, Part Four: The Business of Writing

The right collaborators — and the right attitude — make all the difference

David Valdes


Photo: Alexander Suhorucov for Pexels

Once your submission get bites, you have some thinking to do.

15. Sign with the right agent or editor

If you get an offer from an agent or an editor, it will be thrilling. But don’t leap without looking. Have a good conversation with the person who has expressed interest; try to get a feel for their personality, how they work, and what they expect. Ask them how they like to communicate. Let them ask you questions.

Above all, listen to how they talk about your book. Do they really get it? Are they able to speak specifically to what it offers and why they can see it succeeding? Do they have good ideas about what they’d like to see in revisions yet to come? If their answers are vague or you get a sense that they don’t actually understand your book, think carefully about whether this is the right fit for you.

Similary, if you find that you do not have a good rapport, this should give you pause, because you will work with this person for a long time and you need them to be a real advocate for you.

16. Listen to feedback

Your agent is likely to have notes for you on what they believe you need to do get the book in best position for editorial submission. This is not a time to be defensive or to treat every line as delicate. When you get a word choice edit or requests to clarify passages, it’s often wisest to comply; there are only so many hills to die on, so save your battles.

In most cases, an agent is likely the first truly objective person to ever read your manuscript, so they have an angle of vision that you do not. Their advice comes from their experience — which is a major reason why you hire an agent to begin with. And unless their suggestions would change your work into something that does not reflect you, it pays to be open and generous about incorporating their feedback. Again, it is not personal — they only get paid if you do, so they are actively trying to make the book successful.



David Valdes

David Valdes is a Cuban-American author who writes about family, race, and LGBTQ issues. His book Brighter than the Moon releases in January 2023.