I’m excited to share with you that I have a mini-season on my podcast all about editing in honor of all the first-drafting that went on in November for National Novel Writing Month. Five episodes of editors and agents talking about editing and giving you their best tips. Jennie Nash, my first guest, even gives you two handouts!
Check out the episodes every Thursday on WRITE NOW! Workshop Podcast. You can find it on your favorite podcast app or watch the episodes on YouTube. Be sure to subscribe, either way, so you don’t miss out! In 2021, I’ll be moving to seasons, which means there will be a couple weeks in between without an episode and I don’t want you to miss anything.
As we finish up a difficult year, I also wanted to share my Encouraging Words episode with you. I hope you find it uplifting and hopeful. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!
If you want to play with the big boys then, yes, you need an agent. They will negotiate for you, they will field opportunities you may not have the expertise to deal with (case in point I had a contract with an Italian publisher I did myself and found I needed my agent’s guidance for tax purposes. Wish I had let them handle it). An agent can manage tricky creative questions with your editor. An agent will be the first to hear of new publishing opportunities – new lines coming out, changes being made that might affect yours. Having an agent also gives you street creds. If you are going to publish as an indie you don’t need one, of course.
Anything an agent can do, you can do better—as long as you have enough knowledge, connections, and experience. An agent is worth the money if you need help navigating the industry. An agent is worth the money if you do not already have an indomitable entrepreneurial spirit working to build your career in the face of a highly competitive industry. The choice of working with an agent or going solo is entirely up to you. You certainly do not need an agent if you plan to go indie. You most likely cannot go it alone to the highest levels if you plan to go traditional.
I was speaking to a couple of friends in the non-fiction world who wouldn’t have been able to get the lucrative deals they had without an agent. They had nothing but praise for their agents, especially when it came to sorting out problems with the publisher (international rights). That said, there are agents and agents. Some are fabulous and will work their socks off to help you. Others are terrible and will never do anything for you. If you self-publish, you don’t need any of that, but you will have to put in a little more work yourself for the same gains.
The answer depends on what it is you want.
You’ve written a book so now it’s time to take it to the next level. If having a traditional publisher is the one thing that will satisfy you, then you will need an agent. They say hen’s teeth are rare, but not as rare as a legitimate publishing house taking an unsolicited manuscript. An agent’s job is to champion your work to publishing houses. If she is successful, l then you have a publisher- at a cost. The agent will receive a percentage of any contract she sets up and a publisher will take a further percentage of sales.
I’m not demeaning those percentages; after all both agent and publisher have earned it but chances are, you’ll have to be the Champion of your work anyway. By champion I mean you will have to make the effort to market and publicize your work so that it will stand out to potential readers – stand out from the thousands of books posted daily on Amazon, Smashwords etc., or the hundreds of printed books on the shelf. Unless you’ve created a ground-breaking runaway akin to Hunger Games it’s unlikely that the publisher will do more than simply produce and distribute your physical book. For that service the publishing house takes its percentage of sales.
If you’re willing to take the time required to try to find a good agent – query letters, samples, response time – there is no reason not to at least give it a try. Unless Amazon et al change tactics you always have the option of Indie publishing should no agent work out for you – no agent required. In that case know that you have a marketing road ahead for you to personally strategize and implement in order to generate sales and the – all important – reviews.
Indie publishing is an ever-evolving critter and it’s a full-time job just to keep abreast of new developments nearly every day. (I’m amazed my clients have the time to write.) Amazon’s ever-changing algorithms give me a headache; I don’t pretend to understand them all, but that has created a need. That need has given rise to a new indie publishing niche – the Virtual assistant or VA. These are people who you pay a fee to deal with your social media. There are also agents who specialize in Indie authors and look for review options, seek foreign markets, manage rights, etc. Of course, there is a fee and many of them earn it righteously. The decision to take on an author will be based on sales history by volume and price.
The success of a book has costs – either in the author’s time and effort to market or in a share of sales dollars. Whether you have an agent or not, success ultimately depends on content. Be sure your work is the best you can make it.
Tracy is busy today (and there will be no comments about Cino de Mayo and margaritas). While she’s away, she thought you might like to read a post from our archives. Why Self-Publishing was originally published on Jan 16, 2015.
This is the first question most Self-Published Authors are asked. However, what’s really going through the mind of the person asking is, “So you couldn’t get an agent or your work wasn’t up to snuff.” That’s so not true.
I’ve learned a lot on the road to becoming a self-published writer. First, I had an agent. A well-respected agent in the world of Christian Fiction. Let me preface this by saying, she knew my writing style. She’d read the first five chapters of my book. Actually, it was a different book. [That’s a story for another time.] She got my book to ‘Board.’ Two years later and I’m still waiting to hear if that publisher wants to move forward with my book. I think it’s safe to say, they passed on it.
I need to back up. I write what is classed as Edgy Christian Fiction. What is that you ask? ECF [Edgy Christian Fiction], is fiction with Christian themes. What makes it ‘Edgy’ is that it includes elements not common in traditional Inspirational or Christian fiction. In my books, that means the kisses are a little more passionate, there’s sex between the married couples, language with a little bite, lots of physical descriptions voiced by the characters, wine, talk about abortion, divorce, fornication, lust, not liking your in-laws and anything else that goes on in everyday life. The men are hot, the women are loaded with curves and both are quick to render their appreciation of the opposite sex.
As a Christian, I wanted to read stories about women who weren’t ashamed or embarrassed to express their feelings, with strong personalities and business owners. Let’s be real, when you’re sitting down with your girlfriends talking, you’re not talking in prose. No, you’re very descriptive in your comments on how amazing Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Johnny Depp or Daniel Craig looked in their last movie. So why not write stories from that POV.
I feel it’s a little difficult to convey to the reader the heroine’s attraction is to the hero by not being descriptive in this manner. Traditional Inspiration Fiction, the heroine’s feelings might be described with something like, ‘His thick black hair was beautiful blowing in the wind, brought a smile to her face.’ That’s nice, but in my world, it would have a little more umph, like, ‘She wondered how his thick black hair would feel brushing against her chin as he placed hot kisses along her neck.’ Or maybe, ‘When he kissed the back of her neck, she lost the ability to stand.” Statements like this aren’t necessarily acceptable CBA approved.
In my GENERATIONAL CURSE, I wanted to tell a story about a man who never turned down a drink or a woman. But when he hit rock bottom, he went cold turkey and fell in love with God. His priorities changed and he refused to let anyone or anything destroy that relationship. The heroine, is the complete opposite. She hasn’t had a relationship with God since she was a child. And even then it was more forced. Now as an adult, the only part of marriage she wants, is a married lover. She has no desire to be with a single available man. In her mind, a married man is less complicated. But she is intrigued by the hero and he her.
In order to tell the story, I had to take the reader on a journey with the heroine. I had to show how complicated and empty her life was by detailing her relationship with her married lover. I’m sure the story could have been told without the sex, but I don’t think it would have had the same impact. I don’t want to give too much away, but in the end it all makes sense.
So Why Did I Choose To Self-Publish? I wanted to tell the stories I wanted to read. I met an agent at a conference and she gave me two options: tell the story with the sex and no God or tell the story with God and no sex.
I wrestled with that statement for quite a while. But, I felt God had given me a great platform and I refused to back down. Also, I wanted covers and titles that were a little racy, another thing not really permitted in Inspirational or Christian Fiction.
So here I am, a newbie writer taking a chance writing stories with a little heat and taboo subjects. I know my style of book isn’t for everyone and that’s fine. For those willing to read something a little different, I think they’ll enjoy it.
Funny thing, a few weeks after I published my book, I got a LinkedIn request from my former agent. I’m still deciding if I should accept it.
That’s why I chose to self-pub.
Filed in pending like a treasure in a hope chest.
Praying I don’t end up an old maid: no agent, no publisher.
Living on standby.
Waiting for transport to book deal heaven or please…no, not the dreaded Depths of Sheol: REJECTION.
Watching the news for what’s flooding, raging or burning.
A wind-up toy falling off the edge.
A balloon losing air; out of control, and all over the place.
Waiting for Spring.
Hoping for agents, not pennies, from heaven.
Want to be a Weather Girl singing, “Hallelujah, it’s Raining Agents!”
Raining men: second choice.
See you next time on February 22nd.
Manager, Educator, and former High School Social Studies teacher, Veronica credits her love of history to the potpourri of cultures that make up her own life and to her upbringing in diverse Brooklyn, New York. Her genres of choice are Historical Fiction where she always makes new discoveries and Children’s Picture Books because there are so many wonderful worlds yet to be imagined and visited. She currently resides in Macungie, PA.
Can’t go to conference in NYC?
Take our online class: Agents/Editors: We Don’t Bite . . .Muchâ€ with editor Lynn Price instead.
June 13 â€“ June 25, 2011 This is a two week class
Enrollment Information at http://www.occrwa.org/onlineclassJune11.html
Cost: $10.00 for OCC members, $15 for non-members
If you have specific questions, email email@example.com
ABOUT THE CLASS
Learn about the publishing business and the submission process from the agent’s/editor’s viewpoint. Lynn Price, editorial director for Behler Publications, is not only going to cover the basics of what to include in a cover letter, synopsis, biography and promotion plan, sheâ€™s also going to answer your questions about:
â€¢ Whatâ€™s a Print On Demand publisher?
â€¢ Can a vanity press get my books on store shelves?
â€¢ What’s the advantage to going e-book?
â€¢ Should I care about distribution?
This fast-paced, two-week look at the publishing world will cover the whole enchilada so writers can become better at their craft and understand how the industry works.
ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:
The editorial director for a publishing firm that specializes in personal journey stories with socially relevant themes, Lynn Price is herself a published fiction and non-fiction author. Her reference book, The Writer’s Essential Tackle Box: Getting a Hook on the Publishing Industry, provides an “insider’s view geared to inform and educate writers as to how we work, why we work, and the pitfalls to avoid.” She also addresses many issues facing todayâ€™s writers with her lighthearted but very much to the point Behler Publications blog â€“http://behlerblog.com/
Enrollment Information at http://www.occrwa.org/onlineclassJune11.html
COST: $10 for OCC members, $15 for non-members
Coming in July 2011â€“ Breaking Things Down Into Threes with Beth Daniels
July 11 â€“ August 6, 2011
Plots require organizationâ€“ even those written by pantsers. Why? Because all storytelling requires a flow, a smooth transition from one scene to the next. Getting it doesn’t require an outline though. All it requires is a system â€“ a system of thirds. This class is for writers at any point in their writing career from unpublished to midlist.
Check out our full list of workshop at http://www.occrwa.org/onlineclasses.html
Want to be notified personally two weeks before each class? Be sure you’re signed up for our Online Class Notices Yahoo Group! Sign up at the bottom of http://www.occrwa.org/onlineclasses.html or send a blank email to OCCRWAOnlineClassNoticesfirstname.lastname@example.org
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