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Thread: Newbie questions for published authors...

  1. #1
    tfdswift
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    Newbie questions for published authors...

    First, I would like to thank anyone, in advance, for responding to my questions. Now with that out of the way....:peace

    My first question is: Do you recommend joining writing associations, and if so, which ones do you feel are the most trustworthy.

    My second question is: What is the deal with e-books and POD books? Are any of these ligitimate? Is there a point where you should go with this type of thing?

    My problem is finding an agent that deals with my genre. The reputable ones, so far do not seem to deal with the type of writing I do? As I said on another board, I was totally screwed by Janet Kay and Associates, and since then I have had trouble finding an agent. Mostly because of the genre thing and also because I am so wary of who I send to. It's the "Once bitten; Twice shy" thing:teeth .

    Please help me figure out where to go!!!!g I believe in my work but this is such a tough business to break in to.

    Thanks,
    Tammy

  2. #2
    James D Macdonald
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    Re: Newbie questions for published authors...

    What do you mean by "writing association"?

    PoD and ebooks aren't ready for prime-time yet. If you're looking for a) readers and b) income, look somewhere else first.

    What's your genre?

  3. #3
    tfdswift
    Guest

    Re: Newbie questions for published authors...

    I mean like the "National Writer's Association", "National Writer's Union", "Pennwriters, Inc.", etc......

    My genre is Teen/Adventure/Fantasy...

    Kind of like some of Gary Paulsen's work.

    ~~Tammy

  4. #4
    DeePower
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    One question at a time.

    I have found www.publishersmarketplace.com to be a wealth of information. It is not free but the monthly fee is minimal - $15.00 and you can join for just a month.

    One of their most valuable resources is the database of deals. You can find out what books have sold to what editor at which publishing house and by what agent. You can sort the deals by fiction, nonfiction, childrens, by agent, editor, and key word.

    You might join and then see what YA books have sold and what agent sold them.

    Of course you also need to research the agent.
    Dee
    www.BrianHillAndDeePower.com

  5. #5
    vstrauss
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    Re: Newbie questions for published authors...

    There are plenty of reputable agents who deal with YA books, and YA fantasy is a hot genre right now. Check a good print market guide (Jeff Herman's Writer's Guide, Rachel Vater's Guide to Literary Agents, and/or Literary Marketplace, available in your local library) and you should be able to identify a good number. Another option: Make a list of writers whose work you think is similar to yours (like Gary Paulsen) and try and find out who agents them.

    Don't look for agents on the Internet. The Internet is great for followup research, but it shouldn't be where you start your agent search. You're likely to run into lots of Janet Kays.

    As for writers' associations...depends on what you're looking for. Professional writers' groups (Authors Guild, NWU, SFWA, RWA, MWA, HWA, SCBWI) can be good for networking and for keeping up with the industry--most have informative quarterly publications and provide a range of services such as grievance committees and contract reviews. Some will let you join if you've yet to publish; some won't. There are other groups that are more about socializing or putting on conferences or conducting workshops.

    - Victoria

  6. #6
    tfdswift
    Guest

    Re: Newbie questions for published authors...

    I am sorry but I made a mistake in my earlier description of my book. The book I am currently working on is somewhat similar to a book I once read by Gary Paulsen. The book I am trying to sell at this time is unlike anything I have ever read before.

    As I said it is a teen/adventure/fantasy but it also has a good deal of young romance and a little sci fi in it.

    Anybody know off any agents accepting something like that?

    The thing of it is I know it is an interesting book for the audience I have targeted. Getting it into print seems a whole nother thing.

    ~~Tammy

  7. #7
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Finding an agent

    How'd it all work out for you, Tammy?

  8. #8
    Cat hair collector PVish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tfdswift

    My first question is: Do you recommend joining writing associations, and if so, which ones do you feel are the most trustworthy.
    My second question is: What is the deal with e-books and POD books? Are any of these ligitimate? Is there a point where you should go with this type of thing?
    Tammy
    If you're a beginning writer, I suggest you join a local writers group first. If there's a state group, such as the Writers club of Virginia (http:www.virginiawritersclub.org), join that so you can network face-to-face with other writers and learn from their successes/failures. Attend writing conferences and network.

    POD books can work IF you have a target audience that you can market to on a local or regional level. If you don't do workshops, speaking engagements, or public appearances, then you won't have much success selling your book. Your name already needs to be known in your area before you consider POD. Do you write a column for a local publication? Do you do lots of public readings?

    I have three POD books, all targeting a niche audience in my area. I've made money on the first two and am approaching break-even on the third which has been out two months.

    If you're writing to a teen audience, contact schools in your area and do some readings. Test-drive your work with real kids. Ask for their input. (And take a picture and send a press release to your local paper.) If you can prepare some lesson plans based on what you read, so much the better. The students you read to will become your potential book-buyers; teachers will enjoy having a writer in the classroom. Word will get out locally. When you've built a strong local audience, then POD can work. Meanwhile, keep trying to find an agent.

  9. #9
    Fish Whisperer aka eraser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
    How'd it all work out for you, Tammy?
    Tammy and I stay in touch. She's in the process of moving to Alaska and her internet connection is intermittent at best. I know she's still working on the book in question and hasn't submitted it anywhere yet.
    Recently Thunk Thoughts
    www.frankbaron.com
    My book makes a great gift!

    He who conquers others is strong. He who conquers himself is mighty. - Lao Tzu

  10. #10
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I approached a well known agenency with a synopsis and they contacted me to invite submission, they also sent out a document which must accompany the submission,(before they look at it, they wont read it without me signing) which effectively exonnerates them from just about everything including throwing up on my m/s.

    I've made a few submissions before and been offered contracts with two agents in the past. I'm leery because of this great site and didn't sign with any of them. The document which looks very legal forbids me from posting it here to let you have a look at it. Has anyone heard of this before?

    I understand that contracts carry weight, but never heard of one that has to be signed before they even get a chance to reject it.

    Thanks in anticipation.

  11. #11
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    That sounds like a Hollywood thing. Is this an agency that does a lot of film work?

  12. #12
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Caty, I and a some others, including Victoria I think, made a few comments about this in another thread I can't remember just now.

    Basically, though, James was going in the right direction. Large agencies such as William Morris that deal with multiple forms of creative work do have these waivers. As I told another poster, this sort of 'contract' or 'waiver' has been standard practice at WM for quite some time. It's also common at some of the large New York agencies like Trident Media Group.

    There's no need to be leery if it's coming from an agency like William Morris or Trident. Yes, they are protecting themselves, but they're highly reputable agencies with good records.

  13. #13
    Apex Predator Jaws's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jnaxyc
    Large agencies such as William Morris that deal with multiple forms of creative work do have these waivers. As I told another poster, this sort of 'contract' or 'waiver' has been standard practice at WM for quite some time. It's also common at some of the large New York agencies like Trident Media Group. There's no need to be leery if it's coming from an agency like William Morris or Trident. Yes, they are protecting themselves, but they're highly reputable agencies with good records.
    I'm afraid I must disagree with this. First of all, most of the multi-form agencies are simply not appropriate for unpublished, noncelebrity authors—and I'm not excluding WM. Second, the particular waiver terms requested are grossly excessive. Third, the purportedly sterling reputation of some of those "big name" firms is at best nickel plating on lead; they're just quieter about resolving disputes than are many others.
    CEP
    blawg: Scrivener's Error (includes links to main site)
    Any legal comments in this message are general commentary only, and not legal advice
    for your specific situation. You should not rely on such comments or any other published
    comments, by me or anyone else as anything other than general guidance.
    Unfortunately, no scam agents, vanity publishers, or other similar carrion-eaters were bent,
    folded, spindled, or mutilated in creating this post (not for want of motivation).
    Of course it's "fine print" it's small and red.

  14. #14
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Erp!

    Okay, here goes ...

    1) I made no comment as to the appropriateness of an agency such as Williiam Morris for previously unpublished, non-celebrity authors. BUT, I am curious as to why you have determined that an agency like William Morris is 'simply inappropriate.' Just because an agency represents more than just books does not make it inappropriate for a great, first-time author.

    2) The waiver terms may indeed be, in your opinion, excessive, but ... they're not setting out to screw authors and they're not locking authors into something to take advantage of them.

    3) William Morris and Trident do have good reputations. If you'd like to impunge those reputations, that's your perogative. BUT, I'd sure like to see some proof for why you 'disagree' when it comes to my statement that they're highly reputable and have good records.

    I'd hate to see a first-time author who's made it past the query stage at an agency like WM or Trident be scared off from submitting because you don't like the waiver and are feeling curmudgeonly about the big firms.

  15. #15
    Gone
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jnaxyc
    2) The waiver terms may indeed be, in your opinion, excessive, but ... they're not setting out to screw authors and they're not locking authors into something to take advantage of them.
    You can argue that it's not their intent to screw authors, but if the terms screw authors anyway, what's the difference from a practical standpoint?

  16. #16
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Thanks everybody, I'm certainly not published or a celebrity (unless you count my "yard of ale fame")

    I feel a bit silly now because it is a large agency representing several genre so it's probably quite a normal thing in the profession.

    Thank you all for your kind advice.
    Caty

  17. #17
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Okay, let me be blunt here Aconite. Personally, from a practical standpoint, I don't think the terms of the waivers I've read do screw the writers. Jaws thought the terms were excessive. I think the terms in the waivers I've seen are designed to protect the agencies from lawsuits if the agency looks at something and rejects it, and then is accused of 'stealing' the idea or other skullduggery.

    The terms in the waivers I've seen don't screw authors and, as I said, they don't lock authors into something to take advantage of them. I made the comment about intent because I think intent is important ...

    ... particularly when speaking to suspicious authors about large agencies like William Morris that use these waivers

    Added Aside: In my own humble opinion ... the odds of an agency stealing a person's storyline or idea are waaaaaaaaay lower than the odds of someone thinking their idea was stolen. While I can think of a few highly publicized instances where reality show concepts and a movie or two were poached ala Fox, I know of many more instances where people accused firms of stealing ideas and storylines when the idea, frankly, was already out there, in production, done etc.

  18. #18
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Don't feel silly Caty!

    I found that thread I mentioned initially and in it Victoria quite rightly pointed out that LOTS of authors, first-time, published, whatever, haven't encountered waivers before. Most of the agencies just don't use 'em, so authors understandably get concerned.

    So, no feeling silly (unless you just emptied a yard in under 30 seconds. THEN you might be feeling kinda silly :Cheers: :faint: )

    Good Luck!

  19. #19
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Thanks so much everybody for your contributions. you're right Jnaxyc I've never come across it before and (blushes ) didn't realise I'd used my stormtrooper "READ MY M/S.........GO ON......... READ IT PAL!", on one of the big boys.

    Oh the shame, perhaps my fame will extend to frightened agents and they'll send me yards of ale to go away?

  20. #20
    Gone
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    Jnaxyc, I know Jaws, and I know his experience with publishing law. I can't compare yours because I don't know it. Would you mind giving us some idea of what qualifies you as an expert, so we can better evaluate your comments?

  21. #21
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Tell you?

    And spoil the mystery?

    Oh no!

    As you say, you know Jaws.
    Why not ask him whether he
    thinks a Trident or William Morris
    waiver 'screws' writers.

    No doubt you'll trust your friend
    far more than a strange newcomer
    who had the temerity to offer a
    contrary opinion.

  22. #22
    Gone
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jnaxyc
    No doubt you'll trust your friend
    I did not say he's my friend. I know him in his professional capacity. I know his credentials.

    far more than a strange newcomer
    One who doesn't give any credentials? Well, yes. I'd be foolish to do otherwise, especially on a board regularly trolled by plants and shills, wouldn't I?

  23. #23
    Apex Predator Jaws's Avatar
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    A few comments, and then that's all (remember, as an attorney I have to keep client confidences):
    • The real problem with the WM waiver is that it also acts as insulation against the misconduct of other WM clients; I'm picking on WM because I've seen its waiver most recently (by next week, it might be CAA). Consider, for example, this scenario: Arthur Author, an unknown writer, is lucky enough to have his/her manuscript requested (after the normal submission process of query-and-synopsis) by UltraBigTalentManagement, a multiform agency that also represents TV and film people. The potential agent is chatting over lunch with another agent at the firm and mentions this wacky and unique idea in Arthur's book. The second agent mentions that idea to Peter Producer, one of his clients; the idea becomes the basis for a nine-figure-grossing feature film with several sequels, each of which also grossed nine figures. Although Arthur Author followed all of the requirements of Desny v. Wilder, he would have no cause of action against anyone under the excessive waiver. (The confidential settlement from which these facts are loosely drawn is even more egregious, but that's beside the point.)
    • Agencies like the big multiform firms are inappropriate for unpublished noncelebrity authors because their structure, expertise, and efforts focus on big, highly publicized projects. In fact, if you get senior VPs and above (or the equivalent, depending upon the firm's management structure) alone in a bar for a drink, you'll find that most of them will admit that they keep a literary agency branch around for synergy with their main business—the film/TV/drama/musical talent and managing the careers of celebrities. That makes them inappropriate—not necessarily bad, just a poor fit—for those who don't fit that profile. Conversely, if an author is a celebrity, even if previously unpublished, those firms should be toward the top of the list… with other appropriate precautions that go for any large transaction.
    • Without naming names—remember that privilege thing?—I could name two well-known multiform agencies which, in the last five years, have done precisely what I described in the first form above, and another one that quietly paid off an author to go away rather than reveal how its accounting department determined her share of the royalties from a major project. I make no representations as to whether WM or Trident is in that grouping.

    The bottom line is this: Whether intentionally or otherwise, the waivers go far beyond what is reasonable or necessary to protect the agency, and reflect disrespect for the agency's existing and potential clients. Disrespect may well be endemic in the entertainment and publishing industries, but that's no reason to ask for it or collaborate in it.
    CEP
    blawg: Scrivener's Error (includes links to main site)
    Any legal comments in this message are general commentary only, and not legal advice
    for your specific situation. You should not rely on such comments or any other published
    comments, by me or anyone else as anything other than general guidance.
    Unfortunately, no scam agents, vanity publishers, or other similar carrion-eaters were bent,
    folded, spindled, or mutilated in creating this post (not for want of motivation).
    Of course it's "fine print" it's small and red.

  24. #24
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Wink Just so

    And now, perhaps, you'll ask Jaws, in a professional capacity, if he believes that Trident's or William Morris' waivers 'screw' writers.

    In the meantime, since we've hijacked the thread, let a new topic of discussion commence!

    What are the odds that a plant or shill
    from Trident or William Morris is trolling
    this board?

    A particularly devious plant mind you.
    One who's only made about a dozen posts on the board
    since joining, about half of which are in this one thread.
    Sneaky sorts of comments like ...
    • Places like William Morris and Trident use the waivers Caty was asking about.
    • William Morris and Trident are highly reputable and have good records.
    • I don't think it's their intent to screw writers.
    • In my opinion the waivers don't screw writers, although they are desgined to protect the agencies.
    Hmmm ... yes ... very suspicious.
    Questionable indeed.
    Quite right to look askance at
    any character making THOSE
    sorts of comments ...

  25. #25
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Ah ...

    Apologies to the shark in the waters.
    Didn't see you swimming around.

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