Monthly Archives: July 2016

An Agent Isn’t For Everyone

*Gasp* Blsphemy! Yes I said it. I’ve been working with my agent now for a little over six months. That doesn’t make me an expert. However I can share some tidbits that are important to consider before seeking an agent because, let’s be honest, it takes tons of time and resources to find one.

Let’s start with the business aspect because it’s probably the most important since you are entering into a business partnership with your agent. I’ve blogged about how your writing and publication is a business and it is. Signing with an agent is hiring a business partner to help you with editing, marketing and selling of your product. There’s many reasons people seek representation from an agent. Me personally? I’m a mother and wife who teaches full time. The rest of my time is consumed with writing and being a human being. I don’t have a ton of extra time which marketing and other such things require. I knew from the beginning I needed help.

Another reason to seek an agent is because you want a wider readership. Agents have that all hallowed access to the BIG 5 (do you hearing the boomy echoey voice?). Obviously, being able to sub to those elusive publishers can also mean more money, more marketing power, and a coveted spot in B&N (which they are even opening to self-pubbed authors).

The list goes on. However, there are some that shouldn’t seek an agent. Example: the anal retentive control freak. There are  some aspects of my life I refuse to relinquish control over (my computer files and how they are organized is one example). But when you work with an agent, you need to relinquish control of some aspects of your business. If you hire an agent, you are hopefully going to pay them for their time, expertise, selling/negotiating a successful deal for your book and  listening to you freak the hell out at 2 am because you’re convinced your book is crap. If you aren’t able to trust your agent to do their job and sub your book to the right publishers and editors then why are you paying them? Maybe, instead you should sub to smaller presses who take author submissions. 

This is not me telling you to let go of everything and completely hand it over to your agent. That would be idiotic. But it should be a partnered conversation about goals for the book, vision, where the book is subbed, what the response is, next steps etc. 
Another potential pitfall is that you have to like them. I talk to my agent almost every day. I like the communication. Even if she tells me she didn’t hear anything and we talk about what the other is doing. Obviously not every agent or author is like that or needs that, but your styles have to mesh. Publishing is a business that requires collaboration. Even if you skip the agent thing, you’ll still have to work with an editor, marketing team, etc. An agent is even more crucial because they are (hopefully) a long term partner. There are many factors that have to mesh for it to be a successful partnership. Communication styles, vision, editorial styles, and personality are all extremely important. 

So what’s my point? Most writers seek representation for an array of reasons but self-publishing, or going through a smaller independent press works for many people and are much better options. It’s important to weigh your options carefully on your road to getting published. Do tons of research on both getting an agent, presses and self-publishing before making a choice. This is your career and it can be whatever you want it to be. Do what’s best for you. 

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The Difference a Year Can Make

Tomorrow I’m meeting up with one of my best writer friends with our families! I’m so excited I can hardly wait. I met the wonderful Meredith through Twitter. We were both writers trying to make something happen. Our snark bonded us instantly, but over the following months we became friends.

A little over a year ago she was going to be in the area, so we met up at a popular coffee shop in DC. It’s nerve-wracking meeting someone in person you’ve only ever talked to online (I don’t know how people do it dating). But we sat down and bonded over fatty food, caffeine, books, and writing. We’d both been at the writing thing for a while and talked about our journeys. What our goals are. We talked about our families as we both have young kids and supportive husbands. Our friendship was sealed.

Over the next few months we both went through some difficult times as writers. I almost gave up multiple times. She always talked me out of it. We were both frustrated by the query process, and exhausted with trying to make it work. But we pushed each other. She got a brilliant idea for a new novel and took off with it. I got an idea too and decided to write because I love it and not to find something outside of myself.

Now, a year later, we both have agents. I am a WAY better writer (I won’t speak for her because she was always awesome). We have helped each other through difficult times. Meeting up with her tomorrow has brought out the nostalgia in me. I’m so lucky to have Meredith as a friend. We joke about one day being on a panel at a conference together. Honestly, I’m just so glad to know her.

Going from aggravated, frustrated, and at times hopeless, to now agented is quite a leap for a little over a year. But it happens. It happens when you have wonderful people behind you supporting your work and supporting you. It happens with a community you can count on. It happens with the support of your family. It happens with hard work, dedication, and continual growth. It happens with never giving up and never letting your friends give up either.

So what’s the point of all this? Writing is important. If you read my blog it’s probably important to you too. But don’t lose site of the other things that are important. Without my friends and family I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere. Surround yourself with wonderful people and anything is possible.

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You Own Your Own Business…No Really

The past three years have been a shock to the system and quite the learning curve for me. I started out not having a clue about publishing. I literally Googled “how do you get a picture book published” after I wrote my first manuscript. 

From there the shock got deeper when I decided to submit to agents. No responses and lots of outright “no thank you’s” provided a rude awakening.

And because that just wasn’t enough, I decided to write a young adult novel. I did a ton more research the second time. I found cp’s, entered a couple contests and actually got into one, had a few agent requests but again didn’t get very far.

I repeated the process another three times. Yep. Glutton for punishment. But for three years I put in countless hours of work. I didn’t make any money. I endured endless rejection. My ego didn’t get any bigger but my writing did. But I did find invaluable people and resources who have helped me along the way.

My writing became a personal business. I worked hard to hone my skills, learn about craft, learn the business of publishing (still have a long way to go in this department) and made connections. It was a business from go because it was more than a hobby from the start. 

If you want to get published it has become a business. Other fun things have to be sacrificed. Professionalism has to be practiced. You must learn and ask questions and work hard and repeat. Then you get to write a book and another book and another book. Nothing will be handed to you. You will make little to no money. But you will get published. Just keep at it. 

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