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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Publisher interested... Next step?

   
Author Topic: Publisher interested... Next step?
naomisarah
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I don't have an agent, and I have an editor from one of the big pubs interested in my dark fantasy series. I've sent the editor the requested materials, so now it's a waiting game, but while I'm waiting, should I be trying to secure an agent? Or is that a premature move?

[ August 27, 2012, 01:14 PM: Message edited by: naomisarah ]

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babooher
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I have no idea, but congratulations!
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KayTi
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You really just need a knowledgeable IP attorney to help advise you/negotiate contract terms. Why would you invite an agent into the discussion now and basically slice off 15% of whatever your possible income is? You've done the hard work of finding an editor!

Either way, congratulations and good luck!

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Meredith
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Congratulations.

I don't think you need to do anything until there's an offer, except maybbe a bit of research.

It's up to you. It'd be a piece of cake finding an agent with an offer on the table. On the other hand, that's probably 20% off the top.

An IP attorney who understands publishing contracts could also help you with the contract, but they don't come cheap, either.

Personally, I know that I don't know nearly enough to really grasp all of the implications of a publishing contract. I'd want somebody's help.

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extrinsic
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An agent may negotiate contract areas that a savvyless layperson may not be aware of or cannot. Like reserves against returns. Right to audit clause, details, and who pays for what parts of the audit. Right of arbitration. Tiered royalty schedule. Costs borne by publisher, by writer, or by both and percentages thereof.

An agent earns the meal ticket in the long run too. Tracking royalty statements, and income tax return information, sales performance, reviews and other promotional, publicity, and advertising copy. Arranges for a publicist if indicated, a lawyer or accountant referral if indicated. Arranges promotional and publicity events separate from a publisher's. Career ehancement and development is also part of an agent's role for a writer. An agent is the go-to business person for an unsavvy or disinterested writer.

All that and more besides promoting a writer's work to publishers. Marketing a novel to one of the big six definitely calls for agent representation. Those folks have nickel and diming a writer out of revenue down to an art.

On the other hand, publishers see themselves as the producer, at least refiner of the product and a writer as a nuisance extractor, like a prospector bringing in dribbles of raw ore. They feel they deserve the lion's share of the revenue, though booksellers actually take the majority share per copy. It's a self-centric, profit-driven industry after a project leaves a writer's hands and every middleperson looking out for himself. No wonder writers feel cheated by the very people who say they're looking after writers' best interests. It's company shop exploitation mutated for contemporary times.

[ August 26, 2012, 09:50 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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naomisarah
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Thanks for all the replies. I don't have an offer on the table yet... the editor just has my MS. That's why I wondered if it would be wasting my time to pursue an agent at this moment... an agent might think, "Oh, big sell..." and then what position have I put him in, by not bringing in the offer?

Based on all of the helpful terms posted by extrinsic (none of which I actually understand haha), I think representation is the best way to go since I'm not likely to be offered a large advance based on my first-time author status.

But I wonder if I should wait until there is an offer to pursue an agent so I don't excite an agent and then not come through with an offer, or if agents are interested in representing an author who has gathered attention from big pubs, though no offer yet?

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MAP
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I agree with others that you will need someone to look over the contract either an agent or an IP attorney whichever way you want to go.

Getting an agent should be easy with a contract. I think you just query them making sure to tell them at the begining that you already have a contract. Most agents would be happy to take you on. [Smile]

Oh and congrats. That is really exciting news. Fingers crossed for you.

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extrinsic
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Consider testing the waters while you're waiting for a response from the publisher.

Check literary agent accreditation services for an agent agency nearby where you live. Most are in New York but a few are in the hinterlands. Mine preferred agent is two hours drive away and far, far from the primate city. Contact a few with the details. Ask for advice. Any that ask for a fee up front decline. Any that insist upon a fee at anytime except for a 10 to 30 percent commission on royalties or advance decline.

Since you don't have a contract yet let the agents you contact know that but that acquisition is under consideration. At the very least, if the one publisher passes, the agent may agree to representation, may arrange for developmental editing services to enhance the project's marketability, and may possibly place the manuscript with another publisher if the first publisher declines.

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Brendan
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I like extrinsic's point about asking for advice from an agent, especially if your story has been accepted (sounds like it is still in the reading stage - it could still be rejected - is that so?). Some may be willing to give general (or even specific) advice, even if they don't have the capacity to take on another client. A letter to one could state something like

"I have specifically targeted you because you don't deal in my chosen genre, and therefore could answer this with the insight required. My manuscript has just been accepted by a publisher. What is the value of obtaining an agent at this stage in the proceedings?"

It is possible that they already know someone in the genre, and can get you in.

In addition, if you do have an offer, you can use it to

1) Lure several possible agents and select between them
2) Negotiate reasonable terms for yourself, particularly for this series

Remember, an agent is about a relationship that can last for a number of years - the ability to relate should be important. But it is also a business relationship, and you may think about what KPIs should be set in place.

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rcmann
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Congratulations.
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naomisarah
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Thank you to all for the congrats and the advice... I think I will put out a query to a few agents and just see what happens with it. Either way, I'm pretty proud to have such a big publisher interested in even reading the sample chapters, so it's encouraging whether anyone bites the hook or not!
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Natej11
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Congratulations!

If you're going to write multiple works and make a career of it having an agent will save you some massive headaches, since the agent can handle more of the business side of things and leave you time for writing. If it's just one book for now then you can save money going it solo.

I'm just wondering, aren't agents usually the ones who handle book tours and that sort of publicity? I wouldn't even want to try doing that stuff myself.

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naomisarah
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I think you're right, and I wholeheartedly agree.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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quote:
Originally posted by Brendan:
"I have specifically targeted you because you don't deal in my chosen genre...

Because you DON'T deal in naomisarah's genre? Are you certain, Brendan?

If naomisarah is hoping to get an agent once there is an offer, wouldn't it be better to talk to agents in her genre?

For my part, I'd recommend finding out who the good agents are in your genre, naomisarah, and deciding which one you will contact first, once you have that offer.

When the editor calls to say that they want your book--and they will call if they do, because hearing how happy that makes an author is one of the joys of being an acquiring editor--tell them that you will have your agent contact them. Then contact your first choice agent and say that you've had an offer from X publisher for your book, and would they represent you? (You can send that in an email with "have offer, need representation" in the subject line, by the way.)

But figure out who is on your possible agents list as soon as possible. (If you know any authors who write in your genre, ask them who their agents are. Even if you don't know any to ask, you can try to find out what agents represent such authors.)

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naomisarah
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Thanks so much Kathleen - I think Brendan meant if I was querying agents for the purpose of information gathering rather than acquiring representation.

I queried a few agents just to see if anyone was interested in my work based on the positive reaction I got from the pub house. I opened with the line, "I have sent materials to XPublisher due to a request made at an in-person pitch session with XYZNameEditor... Due to the attention my pitch has received, I feel I need to seek representation."

Then I put a pitch/synopsis paragraph, followed by more detailed information about the status of the material I sent to the publisher ("I sent them recently, haven't heard back yet, etc"). Then I attached a sample chapter.

Woke up this morning with two agents requesting full manuscripts and two form rejections. It's progress, for sure, and I had great, personal communication with one of the agents who requested a manuscript.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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quote:
Originally posted by naomisarah:
I had great, personal communication with one of the agents who requested a manuscript.

I'd send it to that agent first. A full manuscript counts as a submission, and unless you know the agents are okay with simultaneous submissions, don't send the full manuscript to both of them at the same time.

If the personal one rejects it, then send it to the other one (it will be okay--editorial and agenting time is slower than football and basketball time--as in the football "two-minute warning" means there's still about half an hour left in the game). [Smile]

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naomisarah
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Thanks, Kathleen - I was very up front that I had another request for submission, and she replied with (paraphrased), "Please let me know right away if you are offered representation by another agency or if your publisher makes an offer. In the meantime, I'll read your manuscript and be in touch very soon!"

I did send the second agency a manuscript too, being very honest that I had another interested agency.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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That's great, naomisarah. Best wishes, then.
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naomisarah
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Just to update, since I've received so much support here already that I wanted to share: I received interest from an absolutely unexpected and huge agency today and sent along a manuscript as requested. This is largely thanks to all of the support here and advice - I'm sure glad I followed it. You guys are the best!

The way I look at it, to come this far is an honor, even if the work is never published - I'm thankful and proud!

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KayTi
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Good luck! I'm excited for you. I have an agent with an excellent reputation completely by accident (my mom met someone at a party is how the story boils down.) But it's working for me at the moment with the particular title I'm seeking publication for, so I'm letting this story play out.

I hope you have good news soon! If you were able to get the interest of an editor, odds are good a reputable agent will see the same quality in your manuscript.

Meanwhile, because it always needs to be said (I say this for myself as much as for you!) -- Keep writing! [Smile] Best of luck.

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