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bluehippo
03-29-2010, 04:56 PM
An agent who has a partial of mine has asked for some more information about me - specifically what I do for a living and my writing background. The only problem is that Iím currently unemployed and I have no publishing credits. I really donít know what to say to them. Iíve been sat here for over an hour trying to come up with something. Does anyone has any advice about the best way to explain my situation? I would really appreciate it.

BrooklynLee
03-29-2010, 05:00 PM
Well, I would say you are between jobs, and mention some things about your career overall -- what types of work you've done in the past. If you don't have any publishing credits, well, you don't have any, and you can't change that. Maybe say something like "I've been working on my writing for XXX years," or "I've been interested in writing since I was in high school" or something else that talks about your writing as a beloved hobby, even if you haven't been published before?

Jamie Stone
03-29-2010, 05:21 PM
You could just say you've been working on your manuscript for several years--technically you are a professional writer, if you sit down and write on a daily basis in order to produce a sellable manuscript, no?

Don't know if you've got a family or anything, but if you do you could play that up--being Mr. Mom, etc.

Jamesaritchie
03-29-2010, 05:26 PM
You could just say you've been working on your manuscript for several years--technically you are a professional writer, if you sit down and write on a daily basis in order to produce a sellable manuscript, no?

.

No. "Professional" means you're already getting paid for doing it.

shaldna
03-29-2010, 05:26 PM
'I'm currently taking a career break due to family commitments'

shaldna
03-29-2010, 05:27 PM
You could just say you've been working on your manuscript for several years--technically you are a professional writer, if you sit down and write on a daily basis in order to produce a sellable manuscript, no?.

No.

Jamesaritchie
03-29-2010, 05:30 PM
Don't try to fudge anything, and don't get cute. Just tell the truth. You're currently unemployed, but in the past you did this job or that job.

If the agent has any sense at all, she doesn't care what you do for a living, she's just looking for a selling point. If you're a working police officer, and you've written a police procedural, or a mystery, she can use that as a sales point. If you're a doctor, and you've written a medical thriller, she can use that as a selling point.

If you're unemployed, but you've written a good novel, she can use that as a selling point.

Never fudge, never try to find a cute answer, and never try to avoid the plain, simple truth. It doesn't take an hour's thought, or a second's thought, it just takes honesty. "I'm currently unemployed."

backslashbaby
03-29-2010, 05:38 PM
I don't know that I'd play it up if you've taken a while to write your novel ;) If writing has been a hobby and this is your first attempt at publication, I think that's cool. You did very well, even :)

Wayne K
03-29-2010, 05:40 PM
Tell them the truth. James is right

kaitie
03-29-2010, 06:19 PM
I agree. Just tell the truth. Especially in this economy, I doubt anyone is going to be judging you for it.

waylander
03-29-2010, 07:12 PM
Here is Nathan Bransford's advice http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2008/03/how-and-whether-to-list-your-publishing.html

isabella19
03-29-2010, 08:36 PM
It's the text that counts! She won't care if you're unemployed, all she cares about is if you can write. If you were writing something in a field that you worked in, that would be helpful during the pitch. Apart from that what you do or don't do is irrelevant!

dgrintalis
03-29-2010, 08:42 PM
I had an agent ask me the same thing. I will chime in with everyone else--tell the truth.

ilookcool
03-29-2010, 10:13 PM
JK Rowling was living on welfare when she wrote Harry Potter, and Stephenie Meyer was a housewife when she wrote Twilight, so I don't see any problem with you telling the agent you're unemployed.

Paul
03-29-2010, 10:21 PM
Don't try to fudge anything, and don't get cute. Just tell the truth. You're currently unemployed, but in the past you did this job or that job.

If the agent has any sense at all, she doesn't care what you do for a living, she's just looking for a selling point. If you're a working police officer, and you've written a police procedural, or a mystery, she can use that as a sales point. If you're a doctor, and you've written a medical thriller, she can use that as a selling point.

If you're unemployed, but you've written a good novel, she can use that as a selling point.

Never fudge, never try to find a cute answer, and never try to avoid the plain, simple truth. It doesn't take an hour's thought, or a second's thought, it just takes honesty. "I'm currently unemployed."

+1

failing that tell him you were an agent, but were too damned nosey...

(joking - james much right)

Medievalist
03-29-2010, 11:23 PM
They don't care what you do for a living; they want to know something about your background, is all.

I grew up in Western Podunk, and graduated from Podunk High. I did two years of college at Miskatonic U, but took time off to raise my two kids. I've worked as a cobbler, a candle-stick maker, and been a three time winner at Nascar. My husband of twenty years and I have three children, and 34 cats.

You get the idea.

Drachen Jager
03-30-2010, 09:54 PM
From what I gather an agent will mostly ask about that sort of thing because they want to know if you're going to be, "serious", about your writing. If you won't quit your day job to write they'll be less interested in you because they want someone who publishes regularly, not every five years or so.

Of course there may be other reasons they ask but in this economy there's no particular shame in being unemployed.

Cathy C
03-30-2010, 10:10 PM
Um . . . no, Drachen Jager. An agent has no wish for an author to quit their day job. Most know that publisher payments are sporadic enough that a writer often MUST have a day job. The agent is most likely asking for the very reason James stated. They want some sort of "hook" to sell the editors with. It's quite possible they already have a publisher in mind and that editor is influenced by the author's platform.

But if you don't have any background that could help sell the book to a publisher by your expertise, don't worry about it. After all, novels are FICTION. There's no requirement they be close to reality.

Good luck!

shaldna
03-31-2010, 12:00 PM
From what I gather an agent will mostly ask about that sort of thing because they want to know if you're going to be, "serious", about your writing. If you won't quit your day job to write they'll be less interested in you because they want someone who publishes regularly, not every five years or so.

Of course there may be other reasons they ask but in this economy there's no particular shame in being unemployed.


This is very wrong.

Agents and editors and pr people will always ask you these things because they want to know a bit more about you. Why? Because your readers will want to know a bit more about you. Whether you grew up in a hippy commune, or your dad was the first man on mars, or you've worked as a rocket scientist, or you breed african land snails. It's just a spin they can use later. It gives them a better indication of you.

And in my experience, and the experience of most people on this board, very few writers actually quit their day job. Even sucessful writers.

Libbie
03-31-2010, 07:48 PM
They may have asked just in case you have an interesting job that makes you more "qualified" than the average person to write the book they're going to sell on your behalf. If you wrote a crime novel and you work as a forensics investigator, that could be a big selling point when it comes time to present the book to editors.

Or maybe your job is just interesting and unique, and will make you as an individual stick out in the mind of the editor who will see your work. I was also asked to share my career info. My job has nothing at all to do with my novel, but much to my surprise, my career was mentioned in the pitch letter my agent wrote! Everybody thinks zoo keepers are interesting; what can I say? It is pretty awesome that I shovel poo all day long, I guess. And anything that will make an editor want to find out more about my book is good.

I have no intention of quitting my day job for at least ten years (unless I get a really colossal advance -- not likely) and my agent has never brought up the subject. Agents aren't only looking for people who are definitely going to write full-time. They're looking for writers who can produce salable work with relative predictability.

Libbie
03-31-2010, 07:51 PM
I had an agent ask me the same thing. I will chime in with everyone else--tell the truth.

Easy for you to say! "I'm a professional bellydancer" is never going to hurt. ;)

dgrintalis
03-31-2010, 08:00 PM
Easy for you to say! "I'm a professional bellydancer" is never going to hurt. ;)

:D

Still, I was scared to admit it. Most people think of thongs and poles when they hear someone is a professional dancer.

ORION
03-31-2010, 10:48 PM
Hey I was unemployed when I queried my agent...I said in my query letter what I used to do.

Jamesaritchie
04-01-2010, 03:25 AM
From what I gather an agent will mostly ask about that sort of thing because they want to know if you're going to be, "serious", about your writing. If you won't quit your day job to write they'll be less interested in you because they want someone who publishes regularly, not every five years or so.

Of course there may be other reasons they ask but in this economy there's no particular shame in being unemployed.


There's nothing wrong with quitting your day job to write, but it matters not a whit to an agent. Day job or not, you can still turn out a couple of novels per year, if you want to bad enough. Many writers with immensely hectic day jobs do this, and more.

Jamesaritchie
04-01-2010, 03:31 AM
\

And in my experience, and the experience of most people on this board, very few writers actually quit their day job. Even sucessful writers.

Well, I wouldn't go that far. Once a writer can afford to quit a day job, I've found most will. Most are simply never able to afford it. But there are an awful lot of full-time writers out there.

Writers with a Phd.. and a good career may keep their days jobs, but even some doctors and lawyers quit.

It's tough to motivate yourself to work forty or more hours per week when you don't need the money.

jana13k
04-01-2010, 04:02 AM
An agent who has a partial of mine has asked for some more information about me - specifically what I do for a living and my writing background. The only problem is that Iím currently unemployed and I have no publishing credits. I really donít know what to say to them. Iíve been sat here for over an hour trying to come up with something. Does anyone has any advice about the best way to explain my situation? I would really appreciate it.
What you do for a living is a different question that where you work. Just say I'm an accountant, lawyer, bank teller, etc. That's your profession. The rest is immaterial, IMHO.

brainstorm77
04-11-2010, 02:10 AM
From what I gather an agent will mostly ask about that sort of thing because they want to know if you're going to be, "serious", about your writing. If you won't quit your day job to write they'll be less interested in you because they want someone who publishes regularly, not every five years or so.

Of course there may be other reasons they ask but in this economy there's no particular shame in being unemployed.

?