I Am Not a Gatekeeper

I Am Not a Gatekeeper People in and around this business have long used the word “gatekeeper” when referring to those in publishing tasked with choosing which books to publish or represent.   Since the rise of self-publishing, it has become a debate—often heated:   Down with the gatekeepers!   Hooray for the gatekeepers!   Some bemoan: The gatekeepers are trying to keep us out. They’re making it too hard for good writers to get published.   While others retort: Be thankful for gatekeepers—they protect us from all that evil bad writing out there!   Well… here’s a news flash for you:   There are no gatekeepers.   There is nobody in publishing whose job is to “keep you out.” It’s not anybody’s job to protect the...
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The Benefits of Having an Agent

The Benefits of Having an Agent Today I’m covering some back-to-basics information. While people have always asked me about the advantages of having an agent, I’ve noticed an increase in the frequency of the question in this age of independence and do-it-yourself. People want to know: Do I need an agent? If I had one, how would they help me? Is it worth paying out 15% of my revenues? Not everyone wants or needs an agent. Your job is to assess your situation and decide if it is the kind of partnership that would serve you. Here I offer you an overview of the ways the right literary agent can enhance your writing career. What kind of publisher do you want? You only need to consider an agent if you’re interested in pursuing traditional, full-service, advance-and-royalty paying publishers. If you’re...
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What Agents Are Doing These Days

What Agents Are Doing These Days In this age of rapid change in publishing and expanding options for writers, I hear the question “Do authors need agents anymore?” more often than ever. While I can’t answer the question for any individual author, I can tell you that agents are busier than ever helping authors find their readers — one way or another. Here are some of the things we’re doing: 1. Business as usual. Agents are still selling books to publishers for traditional publication, and this remains the major part of our business. Along with that, we’re managing authors’ careers, advocating for our clients, and sometimes talking them off ledges. It’s also important that we nurture strong continuing relationships with publishers, despite our occasional adversarial positions,...
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13 Things You May Not Know About Agents

13 Things You May Not Know About Agents 1. We really hate getting bad news and we hate sharing it with you, but we trust you’re adult enough to handle it. 2. If we say we don’t want to submit a particular project to editors, we’re probably trying to protect both of our reputations (the writer’s and the agent’s). 3. While many of us do a great deal of editing and polishing of your manuscripts and/or proposals, the bottom line is that it’s the writer’s job to provide a marketable book. Agents shouldn’t be counted on to make it sales-ready. 4. We are very invested in your book and often feel like it’s “our baby” too (even though we KNOW it’s yours!) 5. If it seems like we’re too busy, it’s because the economics of this industry demand we carry a...
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When To Call an Agent

When To Call an Agent A lot of people wonder when it’s okay to call an agent or editor on the phone. The simple answer is: When they’re YOUR agent or editor. If you’re my client, I love talking to you. Don’t be afraid to call. Don’t worry about “bothering” me, and don’t worry about being  “high maintenance.” If you need to call, call. If I can’t answer, I won’t. Leave a message, I’ll call you back. For anyone who’s not represented by an agent and not contracted with a publishing house, then it’s almost never okay to call an agent or editor on the phone. I say “almost” but honestly, I can’t think of an exception. This is why God created email, right? Don’t call to ask questions about submissions,...
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Are Agents Procrastinators?

Are Agents Procrastinators? Last week after I tweeted about my post on “An Agent’s Day” and another post by agent Steve Laube about “The Waiting Game,” a Twitter follower wrote back, “So you’re saying agents are procrastinators?” I can only assume they were being funny, and yes, I have a sense of humor so I smiled. But it occurred to me that writers could very well assume that the reason there are long waits when dealing with agents is because we procrastinate. What does it mean to procrastinate? Procrastinate: transitive verb: to put off intentionally and usually habitually and for a reason held to be reprehensible (as laziness, indifference to responsibility). Based on that definition, it’s not what we do. (Any agent who is lazy or indifferent won’t be an...
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I Write Multiple Genres – How Do I Choose An Agent?

I Write Multiple Genres – How Do I Choose An Agent? Dear Rachelle: I am about to search for an agent. My first book is a memoir, and an agent said he would like to see it. My second book will be a novel, set in South Africa. I believe it will sell very well in South Africa, less so in the USA. Do I select an agent now who has significant experience promoting books overseas (or in Africa), or contract with a good agent who wants to represent my memoir but who has little or no international experience? Is it acceptable etiquette to shop the two books different agents? Thanks. ### There are a couple of different issues here. First is the foreign nature of your novel, and the second is that you have two books in entirely different genres. #1. Books with foreign settings and/or more foreign appeal than U.S.  Many agents sell foreign rights to...
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An Agent’s Day

An Agent’s Day People frequently ask me about a typical day for an agent. I think most agents will tell you — there are no typical days!  With a large number of clients, working on a variety of projects, all in various stages of writing or publication, the days provide endlessly changing excitement. Of course, I’m sure there are some agents who aren’t as A.D.D. as I am, and some of them probably have routines to which they adhere. However “they” are not “me.” While agents always have a long to-do list, our most important job is to be responsive to our clients’ needs. The email box is always full, and fires erupt and need dousing with alarming regularity. So we begin each day with a “plan” and an awareness that we could end the day having not...
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Confusing Agent Behavior

Confusing Agent Behavior Blog reader Laurie wrote: A friend of mine has an agent interested in her first novel, but the agent has not made an offer of representation.  Instead she has asked my friend to hire a book editor (done), beef up her blog and platform (done), and finally get blurbs from famous authors (on an unpublished manuscript, but this is done now too).  Today the agent said she has interest from two big-name editors and will hopefully hear back by the end of the week.  This seems really unusual to me — don’t most agents offer representation BEFORE going to publishing houses?  My friend is too intimidated by the agent to ask these questions. Dear Laurie, The agent is certainly behaving as if she represents this author. Asking the writer to edit the book, beef up her platform and get...
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How to Find an Agent

How to Find an Agent   Print resources: 2013 Guide to Literary Agents   Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents 2012 The Christian Writer’s Market Guide – 2013   Online resources: Guide to Literary Agents blog Agent Query Query Tracker Michael Hyatt’s list of Agents who Represent Christian Authors My agent blogroll  My list of other helpful publishing websites       Be Sociable, Share! ...
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Will My Agent Rep a Different Genre?

Will My Agent Rep a Different Genre? Blog reader J. Larkin wrote: I am currently seeking representation for a picture book (as an author, not an author/illustrator). I know the demand for picture book texts is not high at the moment, so I’m not expecting much of a response. But if I DO land a representation deal, will I be expected to stick with that agent when my YA novel is ready? Is it considered uncouth to query other people with a different style of project when someone else has helped you into the publishing world? This is a great question because it allows me to point toward a bigger picture. As we agents try to remind writers often, the agent-client relationship is… a relationship. So once you have an agent for that kids’ book, then the question of what to do with your YA novel is between you and...
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When An Agent Offers to Rep You

When An Agent Offers to Rep You I’d had several phone conversations with a potential client and we were really “clicking.” I’d made her an offer of representation, knowing she’d sent her proposal to several other agents at the same time. She expressed that she wanted to say “yes” to me. But she hadn’t heard back from the other agents, so she wasn’t sure what that meant. Were they not interested since they hadn’t responded? Had they simply not gotten to her query yet? Shouldn’t she at least wait to see what they had to say? But what if they never got back to her—how long should she wait? It was a question of both professional etiquette and wise decision-making. I advised her to send a brief email to the other agents, politely reminding them that she’d sent them XYZ Proposal. Then say...
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Advice for Agents (Including Me)

http://www.rachellegardner.com//HLIC/86361cfcaec968323a86853e161d73ca.jpg I’m teaching at two writers’ conferences this month, and that means I’ll have quite a few one-on-one meetings with writers. There are plenty of blog posts giving advice to authors for how to behave at conferences… but for some reason, we never see advice for agents! I guess we’re just supposed to know this stuff by osmosis or something. Anyway, as I head into a couple of conferences, I wanted to remind myself of some important things to remember when I’m doing those one-on-one meetings with writers. Secrets for a Great Pitch Meeting: Agents’ Version Sometimes  it’s not easy sitting through pitches one after the other. But it’s important to remember that the writer not only paid a lot of money to be at that conference, they also...
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Let Your Agent Be the Bad Guy

Let Your Agent Be the Bad Guy One of the primary advantages of having an agent is that you have an advocate who can handle all the negotiations with the publisher and navigate difficult territory, allowing you to maintain a positive working relationship with everyone at your publishing house. This positive relationship can have huge implications when it comes time for a publisher to decide whether they want to work with you again. It can also affect how you’re treated— whether it’s with respect, with kid gloves, or with dread. Most importantly, it can determine whether your publishing experience is mostly pleasant and rewarding… or not. When I say the agent can handle your negotiations, I don’t mean just the contract. I mean every point of discussion or disagreement that comes up between you...
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