Monday, May 4, 2009

Agents aren't all bad

There has been a lot of gossip lately (as well as talk at conferences) about how many agents out there are "really only out for the money." I should note this is coming from published writers.

When I heard this, I almost choked. Sure, there are writers out there that might be scum of the Earth, but for the most part, many agents really are trying very hard to sell their authors books. Remember, this is the only way we make money too!

Most of the comments have come from the low finances coming to the writers from contracts sold to publishers. In the writers eyes (again, I am referring to those that make these comments) the low money is due to the agents being really selfish. WRONG!

There are a lot of factors working against us as agents right now:

The economy.
The publishers not buying.
The writers sending poor quality writing.
The fast turn over of writers resulting in lower contracts.

I am sure I can go on for some time with this. I think the biggest thing I want to stress is that all agents are not bad. The majority have good hearts. The majority really do want to see their authors successfull. They are not simply in it to become the next "CEO of their agency."

For you writers out there, the key is to find an agent that is best for you. Find someone that truly fits.



  1. That's good advice Scott. I know that a lot of writer's just send their work out to any agent that represents their genre in the hopes that someone will take them on as a client. I guess because these days it's seems it's as hard to land an agent as it is to get published.

  2. What can one say? "No man but a blockhead ever wrote for any reason but money." ? Why else would anyone write, apart from family letters?
    Is it wrong then for agents to expect to be paid for their time also? Do not think so. Who of us would go to work tomorrow, if the paychecks stopped, and writing is certainly work. Very low-paid work.
    Check the new figures on the "Show me The Money" website.
    You must have been following the uproar over Agentfail and Queryfail.
    Perhaps you will tell us something about the conference and the kind of pitches you have been listening to right now. More vampires?Any end of that in sight? Dog books? I confess to being a total sucker for that bunch, but understand if others are tired of it.

  3. I can't resist asking for more clarification on the last two items. Are we talking about the poor quality of the writing itself, or the plotline, or both? Is the fast turnover due to poor sales and thus quick returns to the publisher, or the apparent flooding of the shelves with nearly-identical paperbacks? I refer once again to the barrage of soft-core rubble falling off the local B & N shelves in my city. I find it hard to believe there are enough buyers to absorb this deluge of same-old, same-old, but assume the publishers think differently. I've paged through this stuff, and am not inclined to purchase it. Give me some beautiful writing by a professional and I can't buy enough...what a pleasure.

  4. I'm unclear what this means: "The fast turn over of writers resulting in lower contracts."

    Can you expand on it? thanks.

  5. We're dealing with many writers that simply don't hang around to push contract deals up. In other words, after a period of time you should see a rise in your advances. Not hanging around means the contracts go to newer writers at lower rates.

  6. How very interesting is this...writers whose work has been accepted by agents and publishers do not hang around for more opportunities?
    But at least there is apparently good news for new writers...they can be had for much less. Excellent. Any hope is acceptable here, but it is difficult to know if the "story" is really subpar, or if one is simply caught in the crunch between new writer and floundering industry. My feeling is start the new book, and hold onto the first, as the second book, ready to go. That works for me.