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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In Which I am Interviewed by Michael Hyatt

In Which I am Interviewed by Michael Hyatt Instead of posting here today, I’m sending you to another blog. Michael Hyatt interviewed me via Skype and the video is up on his blog today. Visit Michael Hyatt’s blog by clicking here. In the interview, Michael and I discussed advice for new authors looking for an agent, common mistakes new authors make in approaching agents, the importance of  a formal book proposal, why authors should still consider publishing with a traditional publisher… and more. Drop by and tell him I sent...
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The One Question Agents Can’t Answer

The One Question Agents Can’t Answer Agents get questions through email and in our blog comments every day. Most of us respond as we’re able, either on our blogs or via email. But there is one kind of question that an agent (who isn’t your agent) can’t answer for you. That question is: What should I do? I get this in a few variations: Should I pursue self-publishing or traditional? Should I fire my agent and find a new one? These are questions that nobody can answer for you based on a few sentences of information in an email. It’s also the kind of thing that I can’t be advising you on if I don’t know you. I welcome questions here… I love questions and I want you to send me more! But take a good look at your question. Is it something about the industry, something that others...
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When Agents Have Bad News

When Agents Have Bad News or… Don’t Shoot the Messenger Did you know that I invented publishing? Seriously—book publishers, agents, querying, marketing—the whole shebang, I thought of it, created the system and built it from the ground up. Wait—what? I didn’t build the publishing industry? You mean I’m not responsible for the lousy query system, and the difficulty getting published, and the fact that authors have to market their books? Phew! I was worried there—because I’ve noticed that I’m often put in the position of having to not only explain some aspect of publishing, but to defend it. A lot of times the questions directed to agents have this tone that says: “You created this system and it’s broken—so fix it!” I didn’t invent the system—I work inside...
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What Will Agents Do in the Future?

What Will Agents Do in the Future? In the midst of all the talk about the changes in publishing, the question often arises: What will the role of agents be in the future of publishing? I’ve received emails and blog comments from those who assume agents must be running scared because we’re going to be out of jobs soon. I’ve heard from others who insist I need to be changing my business right now and beginning to do things differently to reflect the changing landscape. But everyone I know who is a full-time dedicated agent with a full client roster is optimistic about the future. We’re well aware of the ways publishing is changing, and we’re confident we’ll be a part of that. Most of us have years of experience in publishing and have held other publishing positions prior to being agents—many have been...
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The Right Agent for YOU

The Right Agent for YOU You’ve probably read a lot in the blogosphere about the importance of finding the right agent for you and your body of work, rather than just saying “yes” to the first agent who comes along. There are plenty of criteria upon which to base this decision. In my post “Questions to Ask An Agent” I’ve suggested quite a few things to think about. But today I just want to mention one particular thing you might want to pay attention to, if you’re a newer author hoping to be launched into the marketplace: You want to make sure your agent has experience launching debut authors. Most agents take on a certain number of new, unpublished authors each year. But some have a client base that is mostly established authors, and it...
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Why Agents Are Sometimes Snarky

Why Agents Are Sometimes Snarky Last Wednesday I received an email containing three brief sentences saying that the writer was inquiring about my services, wanted help, and would not tell me anything else until I responded. I set the email aside thinking that later when I had time, I’d respond with a link to my blog and website, and some standard information about how to query. Three days later on Saturday, I received another email from the same writer, with the words “no response” in the subject line. The email reprimanded me for failing to acknowledge the first email, declared that I was a fraud and a liar, and that the writer would spread the word about me in “literary circles,” as well as amongst the writer’s friends and organizations and on blogs. Alrighty then. Emails from...
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Agents Got Heart

Agents Got Heart Guest Blogger: James Scott Bell Back when I started in this business, the summer of 1995, the world was a much simpler place. Bill Clinton was in Ireland talking about peace, and Monica Lewinsky was just another White House intern. Toy Story was the most popular movie in the land. Justin Bieber was only one year old. And agents were little known oddities in the Christian book world. You could count them on the toes of one foot. Since I wore shoes most of the time, I did not consider seeking one out. At the time I didn’t have to. I got published by personal contact. A year earlier I’d gone to my first CBA convention where an author whose books I knew introduced me around. A publisher asked to see my manuscript. Three weeks later I was offered a contract. So I entered into my...
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How to Fire Your Agent

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/ShwfMnkrjbI/AAAAAAAAC-M/SNRJyXO0Zyg/s200/Trump+You%27re+fired.jpg (Encore presentation of a previous post.)There comes a time in every agent’s life when one of their clients needs to move on. Yep. We all get fired by an author at some point. It isn’t pleasant, but it’s a reality in business. What are some reasons writers opt to terminate their agency relationship? I think four big ones top the list. (1) The writer believes they’re not getting enough attention; (2) the agent has dropped the ball too many times and the writer no longer trusts them; (3) the writer and agent disagree about the best plan for the writer’s career path; or (4) the writer finds out that the agent is doing something unethical or is somehow not a legitimate literary agent. Not to Be Taken Lightly Ending your agency relationship is a personal decision,...
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What Does an Agent Offer?

I’m gathering information about what works for writers in the agent/client relationship. So here’s a question for all you agented authors out there: What do you appreciate most about your agent? I’m interested in hearing all kinds of opinions. Some areas you may consider addressing: -The working relationship-Your agent’s style (i.e. more businesslike; more relational, etc.)-General career guidance-Honesty and objective opinion Overall, how does your agent add value to your publishing life? For those of you seeking an agent: What do you think will be the most valuable thing an agent can offer you? Thanks for your answers, and have a good weekend! (c) 2010 Rachelle Gardner, Literary...
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How I Became an Agent

Recently on the blog, Kelsey Sutton asked… I’d like to know why and how you began your career as an agent. Would you change any of your choices? Best and worst aspects of your job?Since many people express an interest in becoming an agent and ask me how to do it, I thought I’d explain my own journey. Most people work in publishing for years before they become an agent. A few people start off at a literary agency, working their way up from intern to assistant to junior agent, etc. But most start in some kind of publishing house capacity, working with authors and books either in editorial or marketing. In 2007, I was running a freelance editing and writing business, having been in publishing for more than a dozen years, and previously working at two publishing houses in...
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Darn Lazy Agents!

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/TCgUZGpFUmI/AAAAAAAAD78/pV2llcqrLoQ/s320/lazy.jpg An anonymous commenter on Friday wrote: “It’s hard to know if agents/editors are rejecting you because of the economy or genre or market or what. All they say now is they doubt they can sell it – well, then I don’t want a lazy agent anyway.” I’m sure most agents reading that would just have to chuckle, which is what I did. I don’t think anyone who’s “lazy” would be an agent for long. Since we work on commission, we can’t put food on the table if we don’t get results. So there’s no place for laziness. Not that it couldn’t happen (nothing’s impossible, right?). But I’d have to say, there are a lot of reasons agents don’t get everything done as well or as quickly as they’d like (a...
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Differing Advice on Signing with an Agent

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/TBVbFRYGjgI/AAAAAAAAD5s/7YmkHIVaoKc/s320/stop+no+stopping.bmp Yesterday we started our week of discussing mixed messages, so today I want to continue by addressing some contradictory advice on signing with an agent. With so many agents and others writing blogs, it’s natural that many of us are saying things in opposition to one another. As a writer, it must be hard for you to know what to do sometimes. Case in point: I often tell people that I like to represent a writer, not just a book. To me, this feels like the right way to run my agenting business. I believe I can serve people better if I’m thinking of them as people, not just products; and I also think it’s important for me to keep in mind each writer’s long-term goals so that I can guide them in a way that will help get them there. Well. I just read an article about...
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Reputations

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/S_KscVIoM9I/AAAAAAAAD0U/xZXco02pBx0/s320/tabloids.bmp Yesterday I touched briefly on the agent’s need to protect both their client’s and their own reputation. This reminded me that I wanted to talk about reputations in general. As an author, you should always be aware that when an agent takes you on, and when an editor is interested in acquiring you, they’re putting their reputation on the line for you and your book. Let’s start here: we’re all salespeople. You have to sell your book to an agent. The agent has to sell to an editor. The editor has to sell it to the Pub Board, including the sales team. The sales team has to sell it to bookstores. Bookstores have to sell it to customers. All down the line, your book is being sold. And all salespeople rely on their good reputation to get them in the door to be able to...
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