Tag Archives: * Agents

Author Greed and Demands on Agents

I was actually surprised to read this blog post at the Waxman Literary Agency blog: Letting the Market Speak. Holly Root, the blogger in this case, talks about authors who demand that agents live up to certain timelines or other standards the authors have set.

“Get me a publishing deal for four books a year. Get me a movie deal. Get me foreign publication.” And so on, and so on, and so on.

I was astonished that there are as-yet-unpublished writers who actually think that a) they can express those desires and the whole publishing world will just fall obediently in line to accommodate them, and b) they can order an agent around like that and actually expect that agent to take them on.

Rather than being thankful that the agent is interested in helping them further their career, and being eager to learn from the agent’s experience and get some advice on helpful ways to proceed, these writers apparently just waltz in and assume that whatever decrees they lay down, the agents should just fall all over themselves to try to fulfill. Even if the demands would hurt the author’s own career, if only they knew what the agent knows.

I’m surprised that writers are so naive as to assume they can plan out the course of the career like that. It seems to me they’ve fallen prey to too many business marketers who promise that they can climb the ladder of success by being “proactive” and having a business plan. This doesn’t even work that well in the straight-on business world. (Just have a chat with the hordes of people who’ve been “downsized” unexpectedly in the past year or so.)

I’m also surprised – though I suspect I shouldn’t be – that these writers are simply that incredibly selfish. That’s not entirely their fault, because another facet of today’s business and consumer climate is to teach people (incessantly) that they are the center of the universe. The fact that they’ve come to believe it shouldn’t surprise anyone.

But one assumes that they’re capable of thinking, if they’re really writers. And they should be capable of discovering the utter fallacy of that “center of the universe” thinking. They need to recognize that the universe is going to do what it’s going to do, whatever this writer’s own stipulations, and in a clash of wills like that, the universe always wins. Add the publishing market in there, not to mention the human wills and decisions of the agent, other members of his or her agency, and all the people working at all the publishers…

Well. You get the picture. No intelligent writer will walk around with the attitude of “the world revolves around my business plan.”

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Filed under * Agents, * Getting published

Finding an agent vs. just writing a good book

I just found some very good advice re: getting a book published and finding an agent. (And yes, sometimes it actually goes in that order, believe it or not.)

On the Aspiring Author blog, Alexis Grant talks about a conversation she had on Twitter with an author who gave her a lot of good advice. It pretty much boiled down to

  1. Don’t spend all your time studying the publishing industry and trying to decipher the “tricks” to use to get in;
  2. Most agents don’t find clients through the Query pile, but through contacts, and especially if they see the author’s writing somewhere and like it;
  3. Have something to say; find your voice, and say it clearly.

Have a peek at the whole post; there’s a lot of meat there. And follow the blog! 🙂


Filed under * Getting published

How far to go when trying to publish?

Good MayorNow, here’s something I think I’d advise against, no matter how desperate you are to get your book noticed. Although if this is the sort of thing that turns your crank…

Andrew Nicoll, on his agent’s advice, allowed her to pass him off as a woman, as she tried to get publishers interested in his book, The Good Mayor. His article describing the situation was published this week in the Books Section of the Globe and Mail. In the article, A miss, then a hit,” he talks about how his agent told him that “If a woman had written this book, it would be deep and insightful and moving…. If a man had written it, it would be creepy.”

It seems to me that that should probably have been the first red flag. Perhaps the flag that made him yell, “Run away! Run away!”

He learned a great deal more about the other assumptions in the publishing industry, though, at least as it was in London at the time. (Like the one that says if something worked before, then everything that follows has to be done the same way. You’d think the people he ran into were the same idea-bereft people who are currently running Hollywood. But I digress…)

Nicoll was fortunate that his agent finally dropped him when she couldn’t seem to market the book with him as a female, or under any category (or meme) she could dream up for it.

He finally got his own deal, as himself. And the book has been published in 19 countries now. While half of his agent’s current clients, as he says, “remain unsold.” He’s not that fond of the crowd that his agent ran with, as you can imagine.

I guess this is a good object lesson that there’s probably a limit to how much you should try to masquerade for the sake of getting published.

On the other hand, tell that to George Eliot…

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Filed under * Getting published