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Topic: agents/ publishers Qs

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Subject: agents/ publishers Qs
Date Posted: 1/17/2011 9:26 AM ET
Member Since: 4/9/2008
Posts: 550
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I have a friend who has gotten a job with a literay agent of some sort, and she's pushing for my query letter and then a summary with a chance to have the whole ms read. I think this is great- but I've also heard from her about the agent she reads for- I worry this person may well be draconian. Is there some way besides looking at their websites to determine who is a professional agent or publisher, and who may prove a nightmare?

I have no problem doing some editing of my work to meet some standards of an editor- done it before. However, I didn't write for a certain formula, which these people sound like they shoot for- make it fit the media publicity, it sounds like, rather than make the publicity fit the story being told. Does that make sense? How much of a novel should I be willing to change? What issues to watch out for, where to draw a line in the sand. These things are filling my brain.

I have published short stories and poetry, never something as big as a novel. I feel my inexperience weighing on me. I was all for sending in a query letter as per their instructions on their website, for practice. But then another friend pointed out to me that I might be accepted, and in fact the agent (or my friend who works for the agent) seems to be trying to draw a net around me. It doesn't feel good scary , it feels bad scary. I need some more information on this agent and their business. Where could I go? Where can I learn about dealing with contracts before I actually think about reading and signing a real one?

I am a stay at home mom who is schooling her kids at home. I sometimes hear between the words of my friend that were I to actually be accepted, I would be expected to put in x hours a week. The fast talking mentions changing 25 % of a book, or more. I can't afford the price to my family or my own well being to take on a full or part time job at this time. Besides, another author I have heard from is getting a hard nosed treatment from these people. I am being soft pedalled to. That feels like a disturbing inconsistency.

I usually avoid mixing business and friends. I also need more information before I do business with these people. I don't feel like I can trust what is being told to me, like after they have me, then they'll change and start showing their true colors. I have no experience with this, and I don't want my favorite manuscript thrown in to a potantially bad deal as well. I have always been rejected or accepted by people I had sought out, not felt like I was being wooed - or hunted down- by someone I had not approached first.

Got any websites or books that have helped you avoid the worst pitfalls? Agents, editors, how to understand contracts, that sort of thing.

Thanks.

Date Posted: 1/17/2011 4:47 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
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preditors and editos website should be able to help you out OR Writers Market (book can normally be borrowed from most libraries or paid subscription on the website).

http://pred-ed.com/

www.writersmarket.com

Date Posted: 1/20/2011 8:13 AM ET
Member Since: 4/9/2008
Posts: 550
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Thank you. I have found those sites and stumbled across a couple others. A friend recommended a couple books on publishing that I have ordered.  I also have had time to do other research and learned more about the friend who wants me submitting to their agent. They are a new business, it turns out,  and I am weighing whether I want to jump in or wait a little.

Subject: agents/publishers
Date Posted: 2/4/2011 5:08 AM ET
Member Since: 1/16/2011
Posts: 3
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 All of the problems that you are mentioning, are realI decided in my own mind, that I cannot stand being a slave (letting a publisher overwhelm me with endless "re-write novel" requirements; going on publicity appearances to distant places). I have published essays and magazine articles, but no novels.

I cannot let someone else bring up an endless list that is time-consuming.  It is too much like The Sorcerer's Apprentice.  I decided the only power-play on which I am willing to totally capitulate, is that I'll have to sign THEIR contract, un-changed, which gives up almost all of my rights, in order to publish a first novel.  This is based on what I have read.  I think the ability to negotiate comes, when I have a second novel, and there is a question of Who Needs Whom The Most.  The publisher is now salivating bec. the first novel made a profit. 

My own choice, is that I am going to pedal my novel over the Internet, possibly letting people download Chapter 1 for free.  If I get an expression of interest, I will become a part-time printer and book-binder out of my garage, or hire a company to print copies.  Yes, a massive obligation of my TIME, but not dangling like a puppet on strings.  There are also problems when one farms-out the publishing to the subcontractor, since another contract is involved.

 

Jon
Subject: agents/ publishers Qs
Date Posted: 2/7/2011 10:00 PM ET
Member Since: 11/20/2010
Posts: 6
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Lora, you're asking all of the questions that goes through the minds of most of us when starting out in the biz. The agent question is one of the oldest. For web sites I highly recommend The Writing Life by author and former editor/agent Terry Whalin. Next, visit the Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing online book by author Dean Wesley Smith, who very succinctly answers a good many of the questions you pose.

Second, it sounds as if you have some experience already. If your gut tells you this may not be a good idea you should probably listen to it. An agent is NEVER the first, best source for editing advice. Agents sell manuscripts and most of them (at least the legit ones who belong to the AAR) are very discerning about what commercial fiction they'll represent because the publishers can no longer afford to take any risks.  Put your manuscript through a handful of readers you trust. You can also, free of charge, publish your manuscript into book form through CreateSpace and distribute copies for people to read (look at it like an advanced reading copy). This is an excellent way to get feedback.

Finally, I've had some success with self-publishing. I'm not for the traditional publishing industry today, not only because I feel it's filled with elitism but also because I don't wish to make the smallest profit from my hard work. If you're looking to get traditionally published (i.e., using an agent and/or editor at one of the "Big 6"), then the sites I've mentioned above should help. If you think you might be interested in exploring other ways to publish your work, check out a multi-author blog I started: Ctrl+Alt+Pub. This blog discusses alternatives to publishing including self-pub, small presses, and marketing tactics. Best wishes with your writing.

Subject: agents/publishers
Date Posted: 2/19/2011 9:23 PM ET
Member Since: 1/16/2011
Posts: 3
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Lora,

     This book has been a superb help to me, dealing with publishing houses.  It was written years ago, but how many books of advice are there, that tell you how to negotiate through each paragraph of your first contract, or any subsequent contract?  It doesn't cover Internet publishing.  It helps you to go through the contract negotiations, armed.  This way, it's almost a battle between equals.

Len

Subject: agents/publishers
Date Posted: 2/19/2011 9:27 PM ET
Member Since: 1/16/2011
Posts: 3
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The book is, "The Book Market. How to Write, Publish and Market your Book"

                       Author: Aron Mathieu 

                       Andover Press, NY, 1981

Len