Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Agents Suck Because They Only Want The Immediate Best Sellers!

You know, the only reason agents reject so many people is that they only want to buy the books that will guarantee them immediate success. If they can't stiff an author out of 15% of that 7 figure book deal, then what is the point of signing the person.

Hmmm? Really?

I have heard this stated time and time again. Now, before I get a ton of people out there diving on this post telling me they personally know this is wrong, please take the time to listen.

As an agent, would it be great to find that amazing book that hits the shelf and does incredibly well. You dang well better believe it, and, I don't think there is an agent out there that would deny it. We all sit around and look at these projects in hindsight and wish we had the chance to be the person who handled that book. But, I should note that although that is what we would love to see happen, that is far from the approach agents take when it comes to finding new authors.

Agents are into finding someone who will be around for a long time. We want to work with authors and watch their careers grow. If we see that one amazing book, we will often be pretty cautious. This could simply be a huge gamble where we spend hours pushing a single book that already has the odds against it.

Now, with that said, are we only looking for the easy sales? Again, the answer is no. Sure, finding a book that goes immediately to an editor is always great. The author likes it because they can see the immediate success and, as agents, we don't have to do a lot of work. But we are not looking for books that can sell like this. We want quality.

When we look at queries and submissions, we look for projects that we love. We want stories and a voice that we can connect with. In many ways, we look at authors the same way you do when you buy new books for your own pleasure reading. You want stories that you can really sucks you in and those stories that make you beg for more of that author.

We also look for stories that we can actually sell. This is simply an issue of being able to put our expertise in a particular genre to good use. If we don't know much about a particular genre, we simply will not go and sign an author writing in that genre. In simple terms, we probably are not the right person for the job. Think of it this way. When your car needs repairs, you take it to the person who specializes in that type of car. When we had our Jaguar, we took it 45 miles away for simple oil changes because they knew what it took to make it perfect. The same goes for agents.

So, if you do hear authors making this claim, understand that there is much more to the story.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the post, Scott. It's always helpful for authors to get a peek behind the curtain to see what goes on in the publishing business. From my perspective, I can understand why some authors might think what your headline states. That's because we don't really understand what you agents do. I hear 15% commission on domestic sales and my first reaction is, "I would sign everyone!" After giving your profession some thought, however, I can see that agents (successful ones) probably have to spend hours and hours on each project before they can even submit it to over-burdened editors for their acceptance. After hearing about an agent's job, I can certainly understand why my inbox is filled with rejections.