Yep, I’m back, again! Just here to add a few tips I picked up out of a book regarding Agents and publishing, and thought it’d be a good idea to post them here and share with those who would like to pick up a bit of free info that may or may no prove useful depending on how or if you want to use it!
So, here goes…
A Literary Agent Will Have:
* a thorough understanding of the publishing market and its dynamics
* know who are the best publishers for your book and why, can evaluate the pros and cons of each
* Financially numerate and confident of being able to negotiate the best commercial deal available in current market conditions
* confident of being able to understand fully and negotiate a publishing or other media contract
* enjoy the process of selling you and your work
* want to spend their creative time on these activities
A good agent will do these on your behalf and do them well!
Is that all Agents do?
Not all agents are the same. Some will provide more editorial and creative support; some will help on longer term career planning; some will be subject specialists; some will involve themselves on marketing and promotion. Such extras may well be taken into consideration in the commission rates charged.
I have decided I definitely want an Agent. Where do I begin?
It is more difficult to find an agent than it is a publisher (apparently). Why is this? The answer is a commercial one. An agent will only take on someone if they can see how and why they going to make money for the client and themselves. To survive an agent needs to make commission and to do this they need projects they can sell. An agent also knows that he/she does not sell a clients work, the relationship isn’t going to last long.
So the Agent only thinks about Money?
Some agents may only think about money. And it might be all you care about. But good agents do also care about the quality of work and the clients they represent. They are professional people who commit themselves to doing the best job they can. They also know that a good personal relationship counts – and that everyone enjoys business more. This means that if and when you get as far as talking to a prospective agent you should ask yourself these questions. Do I have a good rapport with this person? Do I think we will get along? Do I understand and trust what they are saying? Follow your instinct – more often than not it will be right.
How Do I Convince an Agent I’m Worth Taking On?
Start with the basics. Make your approach professional. Make sure you only approach an appropriate agent who deals with the category of book you are writing. Phone to check whom you should send your work and whether there are particular ways your submission should be made. (if its not clear from the listings in the yearbook). Only submit neat, typed work on single sided A4 paper. Send a short covering letter with your manuscript explaining what it is, why you wrote it, what the intended audience is and providing other relevant context. (I’ve also heard that it helps to inject a little personality into that covering letter, to make it stand out!) Also say if and why you are uniquely placed and qualified to write a particular book. Provide your professional credentials; also provide a CV (again neat, typed and relevant) and a SAE for the return of your manuscript. Think of the whole thing in the same way you would a job application for which you would expect to prepare thoroughly in advance. You might only get one go at making your big sales pitch to an agent. Don’t mess it up by being anything less than thorough!
And If I Get To Meet An Agent?
Treat it like a job interview (although hopefully it will be more relaxed than that). Be prepared to talk about your work and yourself. An agent knows that a prepossessing personality in an author is a great asset for a publisher in terms of publicity and marketing – they will be looking to see how good your interpersonal skills are.
And If An Agent Turns Me Down, Should I Ask Them To Look Again? People Say You Should Not Accept Rejection.
No means no. Don’t pester, it wont make an agent change their mind. Instead move on to the next agency – the agent there might feel more positive. The agents who reject may be wrong. But the loss is theirs.
Even If An Agent Turns Me Down, Isn’t It Worth Asking For Help With My Creative Direction?
No, an agent will often provide advice for clients but will not do so for non-clients. Submissions are usually sorted into two piles, ‘yes, worth seeing more’ and ‘rejections’ . There’s no pile for ‘promising writer but require further tutoring’. Creative courses and writers/artists groups are a better option to peruse for teaching and advice. It is however important to practise and develop your creative skills. You wouldn’t expect to be able to play football without first working at your ball skills or practise as a lawyer without studying to acquire the relevant knowledge. If you are looking to get your work published, you are going to have to compete with professional writers and artists – and those who have spent years working at their craft.
Did you enjoy that bit of advice. Bit dry and clinical wasn’t it? Although, I think it’s really good stuff and I got this from a book I bought after the creative writing course I went on turned out to be not so helpful. So far, I haven’t sent anything new to an agent as I’m busy finishing and editing the novel I’ve been working on for the past few years. I’m hoping that some of the above will help me get an agent and published, maybe before I’m old and grey and all my brain cells have turned to complete mush! Maybe it’ll help someone else reading this blog, then it’ll be worth it!! 🙂