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czig
02-21-2012, 10:58 AM
Is it possible to be a freelance agent/rep? I've got experience with copy editing for the magazine I work for, I'm wrapping up my first book editing project, and now I've got three other authors with marketable ideas who have expressed an interest in working with me to write/edit/get their books published.

The only thing holding me back is a lack of experience as an intern with an agency. I suspect that's going to be a bit of a hurdle. I do have a background in sales and marketing, though.

Considering the enormous changes to the industry in the last few years (months... weeks...), is it possible to write my own story (figurative, not literal) here and become an editor/agent? Does such a thing exist? Is there a reason why it shouldn't?

Old Hack
02-21-2012, 11:29 AM
There's nothign to stop you doing this, but you don't have the experience, knowledge of publishing, contacts, or any of the other many qualities that a good agent or editor has.

And I don't think it's fair for you to use other writers' work in order to learn all of this.

I'm sorry to sound so harsh but when people set up shop without any of the experience etc. that is required, the people who suffer are the authors they represent. If you want to be an agent do your training: get an internship, work in publishing for five or more years, and then you can consider it.

jclarkdawe
02-21-2012, 05:26 PM
Editing is just a small part of the agent's job. For example:


I'm willing to pay an agent 15% to get me in front of the top publishers at the big six. How many of them do you know and how many of them will read a manuscript you send them?
How well do you understand royalty statements? What's a holdback? Who owns the books in a bookstore? What percentage of a print run needs to be sold for a publisher to consider a book successful? What's the average shelf life of a hard copy? I want an agent who can look at a royalty statement and tell when I'm being screwed and knows how well I'm doing. Because I want someone who understands that the publisher shipping 100k books ultimately doesn't really mean a god damn thing.
How well do you understand publishing contracts? What bundle of rights do I want to give a publisher? Why would I want to give up the copyright to the publisher? Exactly what do I have to do legally to include a line from a song? I get an offer for "All Commonwealth rights" from an English publisher. What does that mean?

An agent is much more than an editor. They should be the person you go to for your writing career to develop and thrive. Do you know how to do that?


Best of luck,


Jim Clark-Dawe

czig
02-21-2012, 07:31 PM
Not harsh at all. This is exactly why I was asking.

I have been building up contacts in publishing over the past year, so at least that's a beginning. Most are with magazines and a few are publishers who have retired, but I do know several people who work in books as well. I'll tap into those contacts this spring and see what's what.

It's not so much that I felt driven to be an agent so much as I became aware that I was leaning towards doing that quite by accident. This is a toe-dip in the water so I can get a sense of what I need to do first.

Terie
02-21-2012, 07:53 PM
Contacts are only one -- albeit important -- piece of the picture.

Do you have the contract knowledge to help someone negotiate a contract? Agents don't need to be accredited lawyers, but they still have to have quite a lot of knowledge about publishing law.

If you don't have that, you don't have any business being an agent. And pretty much the only way to get it is to intern with an agency.

If you want to be an agent, you should pursue Old Hack's action plan.

czig
02-21-2012, 08:19 PM
Hm. I'm not even sure being an agent is what I want. I love editing, though, so no question there.

Five years ago when friends told me I should be an editor I said I'd never do it because I didn't have the background for it, but now I have 2+ years of experience and can't think of anything I'd rather be doing. I haven't really looked into being an agent until now, and I'm in the same position I was five years ago. I don't think I'd want to deal with all the legal stuff and I have no experience, but that can change.

Like I said, just dipping my toe. Not putting out a shingle or anything.

Terie
02-21-2012, 08:26 PM
Hm. I'm not even sure being an agent is what I want. I love editing, though, so no question there.

Five years ago when friends told me I should be an editor I said I'd never do it because I didn't have the background for it, but now I have 2+ years of experience and can't think of anything I'd rather be doing. I haven't really looked into being an agent until now, and I'm in the same position I was five years ago. I don't think I'd want to deal with all the legal stuff and I have no experience, but that can change.

Like I said, just dipping my toe. Not putting out a shingle or anything.

If you love editing, I'd think you should be able to do fine at that, especially since you've already got some experience. There's allegedly a huge demand, especially from self-publishers, for freelance editing services. If I were in your shoes, editing is probably where I'd focus my efforts. :)

Old Hack
02-21-2012, 08:48 PM
I have been building up contacts in publishing over the past year, so at least that's a beginning. Most are with magazines and a few are publishers who have retired, but I do know several people who work in books as well. I'll tap into those contacts this spring and see what's what.

Contacts with magazines aren't going to help you much if you want to be an agent--it's books you will need to sell primarily, not FBSR (or the equivalent in non-UK territories). Agents can't make a living by selling magazine articles alone. And people who have retired from publishing aren't in a position to sign up the writers you will represent if you start agenting.


I haven't really looked into being an agent until now, and I'm in the same position I was five years ago. I don't think I'd want to deal with all the legal stuff and I have no experience, but that can change.

Agents don't negotiate contracts alone, you know: they negotiate them with editors. So whether you want to be an agent or an editor (for a book publisher) you're going to have to get involved with "all the legal stuff".

If, however, you're planning on offering freelance editing to writers who want to self-publish then you've got a bit more of a chance: but I always advise writers who are looking for an editor to make sure they're appropriately qualified. A good editor has worked on successful books, books you've heard of.

I think you're doing the right thing by investigating this before you set up shop: but you don't yet have the appropriate experience to become an agent.

Editing, however, might be a good choice for you. Where have you edited so far? What sort of editing have you done? How have those books performed?

czig
02-21-2012, 09:06 PM
If, however, you're planning on offering freelance editing to writers who want to self-publish then you've got a bit more of a chance: but I always advise writers who are looking for an editor to make sure they're appropriately qualified. A good editor has worked on successful books, books you've heard of.

I think you're doing the right thing by investigating this before you set up shop: but you don't yet have the appropriate experience to become an agent.

Editing, however, might be a good choice for you. Where have you edited so far? What sort of editing have you done? How have those books performed?

I've been on staff (interviewing, writing, copy editing, proofreading) with a regional magazine for about 2 years. I am finishing (today!) my first non-fiction book line editing/proofreading project, and I've had three other authors contact me about writing and/or editing their books. I did not solicit these people, they came to me, which makes me rather chuffed. :)

Siri Kirpal
02-21-2012, 11:02 PM
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Sounds like editing is a better match for your talents and experience than agenting.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal