If you could have any agent represent you, who would you choose and why?
Who are the best agents (most able to sell manuscripts) in the speculative fiction field?
I realize that most of us would thank our lucky stars just to have any agent give us the time of day, but I am about to begin querying and would like to only query a handful of agents at a time. May as well start at the top. Who should I start with?
Who would you start with?
Most (or all of you) have more experience with this process, and writing in general, than me, so I appreciate your help and insights. Thanks, everyone!
The problem is (among other things) that the dream agent for one book might not be right for another. There really is no shortcut. You know your book best. You just have to do the research and find out who's looking for what you've got. You can start with places like QueryTracker and AgentQuery. Read their blogs. Check out their websites and check them on Preditors and Editors. Publishers Marketplace if you can afford the subscription.
It's not just the book, of course. The agent has to be one you can work with, too.
Speaking of what Meredith said. My dream agent is one I can work with, one that would be willing to work with me. Some do; they spend time even with their midlist clients but there others who treat everyone who isn't a top writer as third class people. They hardly ever send them E-mails or reports on their books etc.
So, as I said, a dream agent would be one I can work with and who will work with me. Someone who I can get along with too.
Agents who successfully represent authors I enjoy have been my first choice. Although, admittedly, I only queried one before turning to writing more stories in the belief I need to improve (always true)and to sell stories to professional markets and/or be a WOTF Finalist to prove myself (not always true but it helps).
However, this past year I've been following the blogs of Dean Wesley Smith and David "Farland" Wolverton who preach about the cataclysm that has occurred in publishing. Also, an established author pen pal of mine has confirmed the very small advance new authors can expect for a novel while simultaneously giving up a disproportionate share of e-publication and all other media rights. A new author has little say over the book format, quality of the paper, marketing, even cover design, etc.
With the closing of Borders, I now have to travel an hour to experience any possible egotistical thrill of seeing my book on the shelves. Yet the last time I was there, I was disheartened by the stacks upon stacks with hundreds of different sf/fantasy books with names so unfamiliar they may just as well be anonymous. Within that profusion none stood out from the rest. In the genre that has been my primary indulgence to date, I found row upon row of urban fantasies with the same bad covers: female protagonists looking like leather-wearing Nikitas in sexually provocative poses and holding a sword, a gun or a whip.
I sympathized with the desolation felt by the boy in James Joyce's Araby. My epiphany: having a book published via the traditional route may not necessarily equate with a feeling of achievement or "success". Very few authors are successful as professional writers.
Thus, I need to redefine what, for me, is achievement and success in regard to my writing.
I started writing again because it gives me pleasure. The "business" side of writing (queries, synopses, elevator pitches, agents, publishers) gives me ulcers.
Editors, however, I like. Both here among colleagues with whom I share critiques, and the magazine/e-zine editors and anthologists with whom I correspond and who have graciously provided me feedback (sometimes it is better to have a story rejected and get feedback than to have it accepted without comment. Sometimes. ).
So I don't know when, or even if, I'll seek an agent and the traditional publishing route again for my completed novel, or the one in process. I may, perhaps, employ a professional editor to help make these better. Then have fun completing the presentation: cover and internal illustrations, perhaps with the assistance of students at the local college of art. Audio format maybe, with the assistance of my audio engineer daughter and a family friend who is a professional voice actor. More background/reference information on Jewish mysticism and folklore. Etc.
Then what? Like Arthur C. Clarke's Starchild in 2001, I don't know.
But I will think of something.
Respectfully, Dr. Bob
[This message has been edited by History (edited October 02, 2011).]
I'm in somewhat the same predicament as Dr. Bob. Part of me... my mind set... is to go with an agent and get my books published the traditional way, but at the same time he is correct about the upheaval in T-publishing.
And I may add that Michael Stackpole and Kristine Kathryn Rusch along with a couple of others have also discussed it.
I came back to add one of the couple of voices I referenced. This is one post but every so often has a post dealing with India publishing and writers.
Since I have three novels at different stages but pretty much almost ready to go out, I thought about going three ways. One would go E-publishing, one I would send out to publishers on my own and one would go to agents. I know which one would go publishers- I think it's the better story. But the changes caused by the upheaval are increasing so by the time my books are ready I may go just one way. Even though I still want to be able to hold my book in my hand. But I can do that with POD. Print On Demand seems to have grown along with E-publishing or at least they are being supported by the same people who push E-publishing.
And I will add that I have seen the same covers as Dr Bob has, which turns me off from the books even though I usually still take a closer look to double check them, but there are still a few with the usual type of covers. One I really liked but I can't recall the book at the moment.
I would also like to use the services of a professional editor but I hear they are a bit expensive. Actually, I tried to contact one who is also a writer but she never responded.
[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited October 02, 2011).]
Just to provide another perspective, I've decided not to seek agent representation. For a while I was submitting directly to NY Publishing houses (and for the record, no flaming bags of doggie poo were deposited on my doorstep, I was not smote down from on high by a lightening bolt, and nobody placed me on a black list for going to publishing houses without an agent. I received mostly pleasant enough form rejections, sometimes with a small annotation, and at least one pretty lovely personal reject from Sourcebooks suggesting my novel might fit better in the MG age range rather than YA -- which seems right to me
I have since begun indie publishing my own books. My reasons are thus:
1) I'm not afraid of the technical hurdles. Using MS Word and doing precise formatting on things has always been part of my day job, learning a specific version of such for ebook formatting hasn't been hard, though I will admit it's my least favorite part of indie publishing.
2) I have a slight design ethos already--I have a pretty strong idea of what my covers should look like even while just drafting the stories. I am not particularly skilled at execution, but I have strong ideas about look and treatment. Since I began indie publishing, a good girlfriend began doing cover design, and therein lies a match made in heaven. Nothing quite like working with a good friend you really trust.
3) I also have good friends who are editors who have thus far offered me editing for free. It's one of those "you get what you pay for" things and at some point in the near future I will have to invest in proper professional editors, but I'm working my way up to that.
4) While part of my publishing goals include becoming so famous my fans find out where I live and begin camping on my front lawn, thereby requiring us to move, mostly I just want to churn a secondary income that makes me money even when I'm engaged with other things (I do part-time tech consulting work as well as full-time mothering and a hefty load of volunteer commitments, pets, and extended family.) Indie publishing presents me the opportunity to begin earning right away. While I haven't dived as deep as many of my friends have (and thus am not making much more than lunch money at the moment), I have goals to get more of my books up, and expectations that a greater selection will lead to higher sales.
5) These days, authors are expected to do most of their own promo anyway. I don't do a whole lot, but at least the promo I do do is directly benefiting me.
So there's a different perspective for you. I guess to address the original question, my ideal agent charges nothing, and that's me!
This came up when I went to OSC's writing camp a couple of years ago. His advice was to get representation only for novel length work, but to submit to publishers first and get an agent after an offer is made. This makes it easier to get a good agent and protects you from bad deals hidden in fine print. I imagine who you get as an agent could be somewhat dependent on who is interested in your book. Offers from Tor, Ace, Del Rey, Harper, Bantam, etc. would earn you a fairly good agent. Whether the offer comes from one of these or not, I would then see who all the agent represents and how their careers are going.
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As far as agents go, I fully agree with Dean Wesley Smith: a writer can do everything an agent offers to do. At least if I muck it up I will know it was me and not someone else.
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As someone just now starting to dip his toe in the whole epub idea, good luck KayTi. If you find the magic bullet, please share. I will also accept tips and pointers in the absense of said magic bullet.
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