Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Agents Are There For You And ALL Of Your Stress

We are always asked why you need an agent. Heck, you can now get into most of the major publishing houses without one. Authors are frequently arguing that agents are just there to negotiate a contract and take 15% of your income. If you have read my blogs in the past, you have read that we do a lot more than simply negotiating a contract. Today is a great example of this. 

One of my authors was really struggling. She is starting a new project and now her editor wanted something that has not been asked for in prior books. OK, sometimes things like this happen. However, the author had been going through some personal family things recently and was in a situation where she was likely going to say things in an email that she would regret later. 

Enter Agent.

After talking her off the ledge via email, she moved to sending me a draft of an email she wanted to send to make sure it wasn't going to offend people. She sent it. We talked about it. We edited it so it didn't sound bad, and were now able to move forward. 

In this case, the role of the agent was there as someone to rant to. 

Now, can a critique partner do the same thing? Sure, but now I am part of the three-way conversation with the editor and we are all on the same page. 

Remember that the agent is in your corner to cover you back. We are there when those moments happen. If things do escalate, then we bring in the "big guns" to deal with this between agent and editor. In all honesty, since I first started agenting, I have only had to do this one other time. 

So, as you are contemplating "agent vs no agent" put this in the PRO column for agents. 

Monday, May 29, 2023

Read What You Write

I get a lot of submissions from authors who think what they are submitting is the genre they are claiming it to be. Unfortunately, what they think is not what they sent. The biggest problem is that authors are often only operating off of gut instincts about their genre. 

In some cases, authors are simply submitting a story and calling it a specific genre because someone who read it told them that was what it was. Of course, the person who told them may have had no idea about their own story - simply a case of the blind leading the blind. In other cases, the person who told them had limited information about the story. Let me explain this one. I recently attended a conference where an author really struggled with finding a genre for his story. In our conversation, he gave me a brief summary. I did my best to tell him what I thought, but I followed up with something that every author should do. I told him to go read a lot of the genre I thought his story was. See if there was a pattern. 

With other submissions, there are many authors who just go out to look for any editor or agent who is open to submissions. When they get to that website, they just find something that might seem "close to what they have written." Again, a big mistake.

To save yourself from these mistakes, it is important to read the genre you want to write, or believe you are writing. Read A LOT of it! Learn the nuances of that genre! This also includes subgenres. For example, if you think you are writing historical romance, then go to the bookstore and grab a whole stack of historical romances and read. In this case, I would recommend being even more specific. If you write Victorian Historical Romances, then read Victorian Historical Romances. 

I do know, when I bring this up, I have heard many authors say they don't want to do that because they might "steal ideas" from the other author. This is not going to happen. When you avoid reading what you write, you are not keeping track of trends and those specific characteristics of the genre. 

Monday, May 22, 2023

Why Professional Writing Organizations Are Good

There are a lot of authors out there who believe that paying dues into a writing organization is a bad idea. I heard over and over again authors saying "I'm not going to their conference" or, "I'm not competing in their competition" so, to them, this is a complete waste of money. So, instead the trudge on, working with their random "CP's" that meet every now and then to "workshop their stories."

And they get no where fast.

I get it. Dues can be expensive. Going to conferences is a huge investment in not just time, but money. Still, I honestly have to say, the benefits are going to outweigh those costs.

First of all, you are getting connections to editors and agents that you might not normally get. These organizations do bring them in to conferences, but even the small chapters of that larger organization connect you to those editors and agents. These editors and agents also contribute by writing articles, giving interviews and doing video blogs and such. 

Secondly, these organizations set up for you opportunities to work with people who are already published and/or writing the same things you are writing. 

This leads into networking. We are living in a world where we make advances based on who we know and how we work those connections. Without these connections, it is really just you against the world. 

I honestly have to recommend taking the time to find those organizations. You will likely find some greater successes with your writing career,

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Always Have A Back Up Plan

This post is actually motivated by a pretty sad experience. This last weekend, I had the opportunity to watch my daughter graduate from Cazenovia College. Like any father, this was an extremely exciting and proud moment... until you know more of the story.

This year is the last graduation ceremony they will ever have after 200 years. Pre-Covid-19, they made a push to really build up the college. This required a loan that should have worked out. 

It didn't.

Right at the end of the first semester this year, they announced that they were closing the college. They could not pay back the loan. This meant that seniors, as long as they didn't have any screw up would graduate. All Juniors, Sophomores, and Freshman could transfer to schools that had agreements with the college with no problems. 

On top of this, it meant that EVERY employee is now out of a job. Even if they were tenured professors, their careers were over.

Now with that set up, let me get to the post.

I watched a news broadcast reporting on the college, and they interviewed students and staff. It was clear they were going for a single message, that I think is important to all writers.

Every person the talked to said two things:

  1. Be flexible
  2. Have a back up plan
Both of these ideas are 100% important for any writer who wants to make it in this business. 

First of all, be flexible. Yes we get you love your story, but be flexible. If an editor or agent wants to change things to make it marketable then be flexible.

Secondly, don't just stick to your original plans. If you need to make adjustments then do so. If you need to throw out that story then go for it. 

Again, I fully get that you love your story, but remember it is OK to change and adjust. 

Now, for all of you wish the graduates and those moving on from Cazenovia College all the best!