Welcome to TWRP's fist "Stop and Smell the Roses Blog Bouquet"--several of my fellow TWRP authors will be posting blogs today. The list of those participating can be found at the end of this blog. All who leave a comment today will be put into a drawing to win an e-copy of my TWRP release "The Model Man." Check back tomorrow to find out the winner's name!
Happy blogging fellow roses!
Onto today's blog topic...
To agent or not to agent? That is a question I’ve pondered many times in recent years. I’ve heard of so many people who have gotten burned, so many people who had their hopes raised only to see nothing happen to move their careers forward. That, added to the 15 or 20 percent that comes right off the top, and my take on the subject was pretty much “who needs ‘em?”
Well despite what my kids would tell you, I’m not totally inflexible. *G* I attended a workshop recently entitled “Do You Need an Agent?” I went in a solid “no way” and came out a “maybe I do!”
The agent who spoke to our group was approachable, informative and professional—not the “Danny DeVito in a brown polyester suit” I’d pictured in my mind, LOL. I really enjoyed listening to the responses she gave to the many, many questions our group asked her, and since we’re a widely varied group of writers, the questions all covered different areas of writing.
She started off by mentioning the Association of Author Representatives. A quote from the homepage: The AAR's objectives include keeping agents informed about conditions in publishing, the theater, the motion picture and television industries, and related fields; encouraging cooperation among literary organizations; and assisting agents in representing their author-clients' interests.
To qualify for membership in the AAR, an agent must meet professional standards specified in the organization's bylaws and agree to subscribe to its Canon of Ethics.
That definitely sounds like a good place to start when looking for an agent. The website also contains lists of questions you would want to ask before signing with an agent. Some of them were real eye openers. Click here to read the full list.
She also went on to say that as the publishing industry gets busier and busier, there are few NY publishers left these days who take unagented submissions. Unless you’re lucky enough to get a foot in the door with a contest entry, your work may never make it to the desk of your dream editor without an agent’s help. Having an agent, after all, tells an editor that your work is “worthy” of her time and attention.
The main focus of an agent is a sales person –it’s her job to sell your work. It’s her goal to see you published and published well. An editor’s primary responsibility is to her publisher; an agent’s serves only you.
Many agents will also offer editorial suggestions, but some don’t. It’s a good idea to ask if there are fees involved for those who do.
The agent’s role is to serve as a buffer between author and editor. While an author who has been working with a certain editor for a while may not feel comfortable asking for a bigger advance or larger percentage of the royalties—an agent won’t. The author may not even know if she’s entitled to more, again, it’s an agent’s job negotiate better advances, royalty rates, etc.
An agent will also take care of the business end of things—chasing down contracts and royalty payments.
So it sounds as though an agent’s role is to take care of the business end of things—those areas we writers all hate—so that we can focus on the creative end of things. I’d say that’s worth the 15-20% fee.
Some helpful tips from the agent I spoke to:
*Make sure the agent you query represents what you write.
* Don’t take it to heart if an agent passes on your work. This is a subjective business—an agent’s opinion is just that—her opinion.
*Persevere. Never give up.
*Don’t write to market trends. By the time you finish the story and it gets published, the trend will be passed.
*Write what you know and love. No matter what you write, if it’s wonderful, someone is going to buy it.
A lot to think about, but I definitely came away a believer! Don’t forget to stop by my fellow Stop and Smell the Roses blog bouquet authors’ blogs today. And don't forget to leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of The Model Man!
Here’s the list of those participating in today’s bouquet: