Many authors think signing with a literary agent means they’ve hit “the big time.” Sure, the potential for huge success is there – but so are the odds of wasting away in obscurity.
I managed to sign with a well-known New York City literary agent. All my friends wanted to celebrate. I tend to be a little more cautious. “When you have the contract with a publisher, will you celebrate then?” they asked. “No,” I answered. “I won’t celebrate until I have the print copy of the book in my hand.” (Yes, back in *those* days, there were no eBooks, kids.) I’m a staunch follower of I’ll believe it when I see it.
The world of agentry is changing. And, before you start on me, I scored 78 points in Facebook Scrabble with AGENTRY so it’s a word, ok? Time was, you got an agent, you were on your way. They loved your book, reckoned it would sell and worked hard to pitch it to publishers for you. They did that because it was how they got paid. And some still do.
Any agent worthy of your consideration will tell you that their belief in your writing is the thing that will lift it above the slush pile, but then they would, wouldn’t they? They may be right, but many agents who aren’t worthy of your consideration will tell you the same thing.
Before you sign on the dotted line and start telling your friends that you are traditionally published because you have an agent, and that’s just better, listen up. Here are three stories to add to the less-than-ideal experience Melissa Bowersock described for us last month. I will present them as ‘a friend’s neighbour told me’ just in case the person concerned is reading IU but off the record, only one of them is friend of a friend, the others I watched unfold…with my mouth zipped shut. Continue reading “Does having an agent make you traditionally published?”
In a lot of the book forums I frequent, I often see posts by newbies asking plaintively how one goes about getting an agent. The traditional publishing segment, of course, continues to bleat out its timeworn advice to writers: get an agent, get validated by being traditionally published. It’s interesting, isn’t it, that the only way to get “validated” is by doing things their way, playing by their rules? But that’s another post.
A much more interesting note is the fact that recently traditional publishers have found that combing through the growing ranks of indie writers is yielding a double bonus for them: these writers have already gambled on putting their voices out there and for some the public has responded positively. The traditional publishers are now taking a new look at the indie boom, since they’re finding (1) good books, already vetted by the public, with (2) a built-in following. The publishers are definitely seeing—and jumping on—the opportunities of the growing indie movement.
But the ones who are still dead-set against it? You got it. The agents, the very ones who are being marginalized by this new tete-a-tete. After all, if you can put your book out there, gather a following and possibly, eventually, get picked up by a traditional publisher, who needs an agent? Continue reading “Agents: Got one? Need one?”
Once upon a time, there was a lovely author. She was smart, and sexy, sassy and…okay, okay, I said it was a fairy tale, remember? Anyway, she’d been writing her whole life, and finally finished her first novel. Now, this gorgeous author was alive back in the days before there was internet. Yes, I know, that was a very long time ago. You probably weren’t even born yet! But such a time did exist. Ha, ha, very funny. Yes, there was electricity. And typewriters. You’ve probably never seen one of those, have you, smarty pants?
This voluptuous writer, her dream was to have her book represented by the William Morris Agency in New York City. She sat in their waiting room when she was 15 years old, just watching the goings on. It was a magical afternoon in the city that never sleeps. She believed it was her destiny. How could she be denied?
Fast forward to the 1990s. The author’s first manuscript was complete. It was an action-adventure novel which would rival Ian Fleming and definitely kick Clive Cussler’s far-fetched ass. She was ready. She contacted William Morris. They wanted it. Months went by. The vice president had taken an interest. Three readers read it. Things were happening, indeed. Continue reading “A Frustrated Fairy Tale”