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Pushingfordream
12-21-2013, 06:19 AM
I was wondering how much literary agents care about your previous achievements? Do agents care about your previous awards and publications? Or are they only taking into your manuscript?

Do liteary agents not like it when you have previously self-published a book on amazon?

Thanks

Undercover
12-21-2013, 06:26 AM
Writing credits are good. Building up your platform, even better. But what's best is the writing. If you can get them to fall in love with that, (have your writing speak for itself) that's all that really matters.

Kerosene
12-21-2013, 06:39 AM
If you have awards, and serious publications, yes. It shows you have good potential--kinda, there's variables.

But, still, the proof is in the pudding. Agents/editors won't take you in if the work you're pushing towards them doesn't reflect your achievements.

Pushingfordream
12-21-2013, 06:41 AM
How about if you previously self-published something?

thothguard51
12-21-2013, 06:49 AM
Unless you sold tens of thousands of a self published book, agents will not care about your self publishing credentials.

Unless awards are well recognised, think Booker, then agent are not going to care about some award no one has ever heard of.

What agents do care about is the quality of the writing and if the story is fresh and original.

Kerosene
12-21-2013, 06:50 AM
If you a high rate of sales in your self-publishing venture, then they might be interested. Depends on the agent/editor, and if you're pitching what you found in success in or not. But, I'm not sure if you should include this on a query or not. It can be a factor in submissions. But, I don't know exactly--someone more knowledgeable can direct you better here.

You have to think: The majority of self-published authors don't find success. Just because you've published yourself, doesn't make it a good credential, per say.

Pushingfordream
12-21-2013, 07:44 AM
I think it is a bad idea to self-pubish anything before getting an agent.

Undercover
12-21-2013, 08:03 AM
I think it is a bad idea to self-pubish anything before getting an agent.

There's many different options to publish these days. And if you knew what you were doing, you'll get pretty far doing it. That includes self-publishing too. Some people earn a very good living selling their self-published books. So don't knock it before you try it.

You might get an offer from a traditional publisher and think it's all that and you find out it's not. It's horrible actually. You need to do your research and on options and take what's best for you.

Everyone has their own unique journey of writing. You might find out after publishing with a bunch of small presses you want to branch off and self-publish. To be close-minded or close your options down before you can really understand the process of it and all that entails is burning bridges at both ends.

Kerosene
12-21-2013, 08:42 AM
I think it is a bad idea to self-pubish anything before getting an agent.

I would agree that it's a bad idea to self-publish the work that you plan to query. But, things can go different if you self-publish a separate work before you query another. Who knows? You can self-publish and trade publish at the same time without problems.


Undercover, it's trade publishing, not traditional. And there's nothing horrible about trade publishing if you do your research and think smart about what you're doing.

Undercover
12-21-2013, 09:10 AM
There's nothing wrong with research, I'm ALL for that. If anyone gets anything out of what I'm saying here, it's research. Please do your research before anything. The P&E and the Bewares forums here will help. And to go further, I would suggest to Google that specific agent or publisher and see what comes up too.

If you were planning to query agents first, you wouldn't be looking into self-publishing would you? No, you'd try that route first, if that's what you want to start out with. But after all those queries get you nowhere, then what? Give up? Naturally it would be to seek publication elsewhere, am I right? You can try submitting your work directly to the bigger publishers, but that might not work either, then what? What if you still want to publish but your book just does NOT fit in with the publisher's mission? Maybe you fought really hard to get where you want to get with your writing. Or maybe your work just sucks, who knows. (that was generally speaking.)

All I am saying is, don't discount self-publishing or any other way of publishing before you really truly look into it. The only type of publishing to steer absolutely clear away from is vanity publishers looking for money. Money should always flow to the writer first and foremost, then you're in business.

And those publishers that call themselves "traditional" or "trade" or whatever they'd like to call themselves, some of those aren't all cake and ice cream either. Nothing horrible about a trade publisher? How bout a trade publisher not paying you anymore or going out of business? Then what? I don't think you'd be thinking that if you ever experienced it or have seen someone go through it.

Kerosene
12-21-2013, 09:30 AM
If you were planning to query agents first, you wouldn't be looking into self-publishing would you?
I've seen impatient people self-publish and then query thinking it'll be alright. Not every writer, especially newbies, has the knowledge and experience to know what is wrong and what is right.


And those publishers that call themselves "traditional" or "trade" or whatever they'd like to call themselves, some of those aren't all cake and ice cream either. Nothing horrible about a trade publisher? How bout a trade publisher not paying you anymore or going out of business? Then what?
That's why you do research, get a good agent who'll know how to work with the contract (or a publishing attorney), and make sure you can get your rights back and have very little problems if that publisher goes under.

blacbird
12-21-2013, 09:43 AM
They absolutely do. If they didn't, they wouldn't ask you to cite such things on query letters.

That said, it doesn't mean that's all they care about. But it most certainly can make the difference between getting a submission attended to sooner, rather than later, or even the difference between it being considered and rejected.

In a query I wouldn't mention anything self-published before the sun grows big and red and fries the Earth to a smoking cinder.

And the cinder has time to grow colder than Pluto.

caw

Ken
12-21-2013, 08:52 PM
... who is to say for sure ? None of us are agents. For all we know, they may choose manuscripts to represent by means of flipping a coin or saying "eeny, meeny, miny, moe." What fellow AWers upstream have stated seems sensible enough though. So I'd tend to their views. My own is similar to Undercover's. Good writing trumps all. Send agents a good ms and they'll offer you representation even if you are a no one without a single publishing credential to your name other than that letter you got pub'd in the Timbuktu Times.

triceretops
12-21-2013, 09:27 PM
They absolutely do. If they didn't, they wouldn't ask you to cite such things on query letters.

That said, it doesn't mean that's all they care about. But it most certainly can make the difference between getting a submission attended to sooner, rather than later, or even the difference between it being considered and rejected.

In a query I wouldn't mention anything self-published before the sun grows big and red and fries the Earth to a smoking cinder.

And the cinder has time to grow colder than Pluto.

caw

Agree with this. Awards and past publications have some relevance and might tip the issue in your favor. It's not essential or the end all. I've always suspected that some of my offers were the result of my credit history and the very long time spent writing--decades, in just about every category, genre and format.

tri

gingerwoman
12-22-2013, 03:51 AM
That's funny I kind of suspected that my writing credits really didn't have much to do with anything and that it was mostly about the quality of the piece I was submitting, but maybe if you can't name any publications that doesn't look great. I've only been acquired by editors though, I haven't tried the agent thing yet.

I've seen this question before regarding mentioning self published work. I would only mention it if you have sold an impressive number of copies of your book. Because while I know many people making a success of self publishing, and doing really well, the fact remains that I could put a bunch of random alphabet letters my 3 year old wrote out up on Amazon and then claim he had experience being published....you know?

If however you'd sold an impressive number of copies of your self published work-- you could say that it has basically gone through the "gate keepers" of public opinion, and succeeded so I guess then it could be used as a credit.

blacbird
12-22-2013, 08:56 AM
I've only been acquired by agents though I haven't tried the agent thing yet.

Dear God, please explain to us benighted souls what this sentence means. Thank you.

Amen.

caw

gingerwoman
12-22-2013, 10:34 AM
Sorry I was quite distracted by children interrupting me while posting (school holidays here). I meant to type "I've only been acquired by editors." I've only tried submitting directly to publishers so far, and have yet to try querying agents on a manuscript.

hikarinotsubasa
12-22-2013, 04:59 PM
I think it depends on the agent.

Here's an interview with Sara Megibow where she talks about it. She seems pretty anti-self-pubbing in general (although she uses very diplomatic language to say so), and some agents are more enthusiastic about it. But anyway, here's one agent's take on it: http://romanceuniversity.org/2012/03/14/sara-megibow-sells-romance-3/

Undercover
12-22-2013, 05:49 PM
I know this is about agents, but ultimately you'll be dealing with the publisher. So if you connect on an agent, or a publisher, check in their guidelines or FAQs page and see if they're heavily into the author marketing themselves. Or the publishers asking about your platform, social media skills (Facebook, Twitter, blogs. etc) and want to know about all your connections to the public, I would be leary of, because those are the type of publishers that are relying on your fan base as an extra boost in sales.

Any publisher you deal with, if they have good distribution and marketing and all that stuff that should come with the package, they'll be confident in selling your work, regardless if you have a fan base/platform already or not.

Also be careful of agents trying to send your work to places you can submit to yourself. You want an agent that is going to get you into a place you can't get into yourself. Another warning sign the agent doesn't have all the right connections on their end.

Make sure to watch for those too. To me, it holds up a pink flag (maybe not red so much) but some gut feeling that, maybe this one isn't so good.

Now some agents, like agent Elizabeth Kracht from Kimberley Cameron & Assoc. (now this is just an example of what I'm saying) There's been a few of her sales from Diversion Books. Diversion Books has an open door policy of unagented writers, which means you can submit directly.

I'm not saying she's a bad agent. But if you don't see the agent making "big" sales either, then what's the point of giving 15% to an agent (have your money filter to the agency first, then you) knowing in your heart you could have maybe done it yourself?

So someone with that mentality can come along and say, agents aren't necessarily the best way to go either. It all depends. To me, if you don't have a really good agent vs. an okay agent or worse, a bad agent (cause bad agents are worse than no agents, believe me) then what's the point?

You need to taylor the road you want to take. There's a billion other things in the agent world. Like for instance...what if you start to have bad communication with the agent and this agent is very reputable? So you'll want to have good communication too. Not just say, they're the best. They might be the best, but not the best for you.

gingerwoman
12-23-2013, 05:11 AM
I think it depends on the agent.

Here's an interview with Sara Megibow where she talks about it. She seems pretty anti-self-pubbing in general (although she uses very diplomatic language to say so),
I don't think Sara is expressing anti self publishing sentiment in that article. That agency has been a forerunner in being willing to consider self-published books from what I've read. (No I can't remember the links) but from that article I gather they are now being inundated with queries from self published authors. The word has got out that they are willing to consider these books, and they have become overloaded with queries that don't interest them. This is not surprising.

J.Reid
12-23-2013, 06:51 AM
... who is to say for sure ? None of us are agents. For all we know, they may choose manuscripts to represent by means of flipping a coin or saying "eeny, meeny, miny, moe." What fellow AWers upstream have stated seems sensible enough though. So I'd tend to their views. My own is similar to Undercover's. Good writing trumps all. Send agents a good ms and they'll offer you representation even if you are a no one without a single publishing credential to your name other than that letter you got pub'd in the Timbuktu Times.

I AM an agent.
And this is correct.

CrastersBabies
12-23-2013, 07:15 AM
Probably depends on the contest. You get a Pushcart nomination, for example, that will get attention.

The contest that Buddy from down the street ran and published on his website dedicated to cat memes? Fail.

As for publishing credits--if you can buy it at Barnes and Noble? Thumbs up.

If you had Eddie from your basket-weaving class print 4 copies on his laserjet and leave them for free on coffee house tables? Probably not.

Online is more negotiable, I think. There are some solid online 'zines out there, but again, for every one that publishes solid work and has steam, there are 100 that last 6 months or less or publishes everything that comes along--even if it sucks the pie.

The trick is being on the better end of these spectrums.

I would think that self-publishing is not something you want on a query letter, unless you've sold 10,000 copies or more. I attended a panel where one agent stated that if she sees "Self-published" anywhere in the query letter, she tosses it. If they're self-published and have been a commercial success, she would have already heard of them through the literary grapevine.