Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Don't Expect Editors And Agents To Be Miracle Workers

One of the things I often hear self-published authors say is that they took that route simply because their editors or their agents didn't get them the deals they wanted, or that they didn't sell their book, or even that the sales were simply not there. There seems to be this belief by so many authors out there that, once you get an agent or an editor, the world suddenly becomes a better place. This is not true.

While having that person on your team may provide a little more leverage, in the end, your success comes from some random variables that we simply cannot control. Your book, needs to be well written, with a plot that will appeal to readers at a time in the market when that book and style work well. This is all a matter of timing. Editors and agents are making predictions that, when your book hits the market, which could be 6 or 8 months out (and maybe more) that the book will do well in that climate. This is one of those times when we really wish we could see the future.

It is also important to remember that when your agent, or your editor (or both) work with you on your story, it is the opinion of that small group of people. What we see in the story may be something that sells, but it may also be an opinion that might not ring true with the audience when it hits the shelf.

I do critiques for a lot of authors on their query letters and their writing. What I always tell these authors is that my comments are just the opinion of one person. Does it mean my ideas are wrong if the author doesn't find success after I work through their manuscript. No, not necessarily. It can come down to the simple fact of timing, or sending it to the wrong person, or heck, even the phase of the moon. OK, maybe universal and nature are not coming to play here, but you get the idea.

I should also note that these variables are also going to affect those of you who are going to do this on your own. There will be no promises of great sales, great reviews or that success.

So, if this is the case, some of you may simply be asking, "What is the point of having an editor or an agent." The answer is simple. This is another person on your team to help you see some of the problems with your writing. This is another member of your team who can share information on the industry and find the best course of action. That agent is going to be talking to editors to get additional information. That agent is going to be on your side when issues of contracts come up. In this way, you can continue to focus on the creative side of your writing and leave the business side to the agent.

I think the thing to remember here is that this business is a huge gamble. But if the gamble works out for you, then the future always looks good.

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