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Kate Nepveu
01-13-2005, 12:33 AM
... all in one handy post on Neil Gaiman's blog (http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2005/01/everything-you-wanted-to-know-about.asp), which reprints a lengthy e-mail (with links) from Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

aka eraser
01-13-2005, 01:23 AM
Great link Kate. It's a keeper. Thanks.

Would you mind repeating the post on the top, stickied thread on this board? It's the one headed: "General tips..." etc. That way it won't get lost as this thread sinks.

Thanks again.

HollyB
01-13-2005, 04:09 AM
Thanks for the great link, Kate.

I had a question about this quote:

"If you're writing fiction, the True Secret Answer is 'get an
offer.' If you've got an offer, you can get an agent. If you don't have an offer, you don't want the kind of agent you're likely to get."

Does THN mean that you should skip submitting to agents if you're unpublished? Ack!

maestrowork
01-13-2005, 04:27 AM
It does seem easier to get an agent when you're "published." So many authors go the independent/small publishers route first...

It doesn't mean it's impossible for an "unpublished" author to get an agent. Only much harder (you really MUST have a book that would blow them away).

HapiSofi
01-13-2005, 08:42 AM
Thanks, Kate.

Kate Nepveu
01-13-2005, 09:49 AM
Notice it said "_likely_ to get."

I know at least two currently unpublished (in novels) authors with agents. I also know that they're really talented and have already written a lot of good, albeit non-commercially-publishable, novel-length fiction.

Kate Nepveu
01-13-2005, 09:52 AM
De nada, HapiSofi. I was surprised it hadn't been posted already, actually. It seems to be making considerable rounds on LiveJournal.

CaoPaux
08-05-2005, 12:36 AM
You HAVE read this, haven't you? :poke:

lostlore
12-21-2006, 02:26 AM
Notice it said "_likely_ to get."

I know at least two currently unpublished (in novels) authors with agents. I also know that they're really talented and have already written a lot of good, albeit non-commercially-publishable, novel-length fiction.
Kate,

If you don't mind telling me, what's wrong with these 2(+?) authors' novel-length fiction that it can't be published, if it's good stuff and they're talented?

(This is my bogeyman: can such a thing as great-but-unpublishable writing exist?)

CaoPaux
12-21-2006, 03:17 AM
I haven't seen Kate around for a while, so I'll dare answer: The market could be saturated with the stories they've written (in which case they'd need to be GREAT writers, not just good), or not yet ready for them (there's New & Different, then there's Books That Make You Go 'Huh?').

janetbellinger
12-21-2006, 03:40 AM
... all in one handy post on Neil Gaiman's blog (http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2005/01/everything-you-wanted-to-know-about.asp), which reprints a lengthy e-mail (with links) from Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Thanks, Kate.:)

airforceauthor
07-04-2007, 10:34 PM
Good link, Kate, thanks!

JamieFord
07-05-2007, 05:30 AM
Bomb diggity. Thanks Kate!

BaldEagle
10-09-2011, 08:16 PM
In Neil Gaiman's Journal he states:
1. If you're writing fiction, the True Secret Answer is "get an offer." If you've got an offer, you can get an agent. If you don't have an offer, you don't want the kind of agent you're likely to get.

I'm confused - a not unusual circumstance I'll admit. Is he being cleaver, Joseph Heller style? What offer is he referring to? An offer of representation by an agent? Or, is her referring to an offer from a publisher? This answer doesn't help me get one or the other.

(This answer also brings up the whole discussion of "If I have an offer of publication do I need an agent?" I would think thats a 'maybe, maybe not' - it sort of depends upon my personal needs, goals, situation, etc. Not germane here but a thought...)

Bottom line, this seems like a classic non-answer answer. Clearly I'm missing something or have misread what he wrote. Can someone clearly articulate his intended argument please?

Filigree
10-09-2011, 08:36 PM
Because he is correct. An offer is almost always foolproof enticement to get the agent you want. While they also love books, agents are in the business to make money. A publisher's offer indicates the probability of money.

However, Neil wrote that a few years ago, and things do change. I've seen many writers get their dream agent off a query and sample materials.

And here's another issue: if you get an agent based solely off your publisher's offer, is that agent going have the same emotional investment in your work that you do?

In a roundabout way, I think Neil's underlying point is that you have to turn in the best work possible, to get consideration from either a great agent or publisher. And until you reach that stage in writing, the agents you can get are not going to be the best.

priceless1
10-09-2011, 08:53 PM
What offer is he referring to? An offer of representation by an agent? Or, is her referring to an offer from a publisher?
He's talking about the un-agented author who gets a contract offer from a publisher. It may seem odd to get an agent after an author is offered a contract, but agents are more adept at negotiating contracts and getting the best deal for their clients.

Here's an example: A friend of mine called me to say that she'd been offered a contract from a good publisher, and she was screeching for an agent to interpret the contract. I contacted an agent friend of mine and put the two of them together.

My agent friend was able to negotiate a better deal for my writer friend. Furthermore, my writer friend still has her agent and is now working on another book deal.

Giant Baby
10-10-2011, 06:00 AM
The OP is over 6-1/2 years old. If either Mr. Gaiman or Ms. Nielsen Hayden want to stand by their advice then, as considered in today's market, that would be an interesting conversation. But that would be unfair to ask. Absent that, I see this as advice given in a time gone by.

(There is still a place for this in unusual circumstances with the bigs, and with some small/independent presses, yes. But I'm just covering myself here. That's not what the OP's link was referring to. It's not the norm.)

tbrosz
10-10-2011, 06:17 AM
He's talking about the un-agented author who gets a contract offer from a publisher. It may seem odd to get an agent after an author is offered a contract, but agents are more adept at negotiating contracts and getting the best deal for their clients. ...



Of course, there's the Catch-22 of getting an offer from a publisher when a large number of them won't look at un-agented manuscripts in the first place.

Filigree
10-10-2011, 06:41 AM
Now, they don't look at unagented manuscripts. As little as five years ago, more publishers did. There are so many more queries now, that the agencies have become more of the gatekeepers than the publishers' slushpiles.

BaldEagle
10-11-2011, 04:18 AM
These last three posts make a lot of sense. Thanks folks!

Filigree
10-11-2011, 06:39 AM
The industry changes fast. That's why it's so important for newer writers to research as widely as possible, with current sources. Advice that might have been perfectly reasonable just a few years ago, could stall a writer now. Not to say they wouldn't get published, if the work is good enough. But it might take much longer.

Prophetsnake
03-19-2012, 04:25 AM
So, would it be a good or bad idea to include an offer made by one of the smaller publishers in your query to an agent, or would this be more likely to get you rejected?

Giant Baby
03-19-2012, 04:53 AM
So, would it be a good or bad idea to include an offer made by one of the smaller publishers in your query to an agent, or would this be more likely to get you rejected?

Depends. What's your definition of "small publisher"? Not big six, but Soho or Kensington level? POD? e-book only?

I think, if you got an offer of a real advance (meaning not a PubliSHAMerica $1 advance), it MAY be worth mentioning. This is tough, though, because some houses wtih good reps don't offer advances, but do offer excellent royalties and have distribution, while others offer small advances and then nothing happens. Truth is, you have to check out each publisher individually. If they're a reputable pub who takes care of their authors, include it. If not, don't.

Sorry not to offer more. Just remember that an agent makes 15% of what you do. If you've been offered $100 for a book upfront, with no appreciable marketing or distribution, is the agent going to be interested in that $15? Maybe, but they'd have to see a whole hell of a lot in your work to inspire faith in future money. Because so far, that money's not working out. And they've gotta keep the lights on.

Filigree
03-19-2012, 04:56 AM
If the offer is from a legitimate publisher, I'd say include it. Be aware that if it's from an e-pub who doesn't offer advances, some agents may not touch the project anyway (advances help pay them, too!

Prophetsnake
03-19-2012, 09:40 AM
OK, that all makes sense. Up til now I have been holding out on these offers hoping to get a decent agent. I haven't queried all that many agents yet, maybe twenty or so, so i haven't given up.
The sort of small ones I'm talking about are all e pub/POD.Well the ones I have been interested in, anyhow. Some are obviously crap and not worth going to for a variety of reasons, bu there are a few who have a happy bunch of authors, even if they are making less than a grand a year from their novels. You probably know the sort of crowd I mean.
You both seem to be saying that having my book with one of those is likely to make it less attractive rather than more, unless it's exceptional.
Point taken. Another for the "go agent if possible" side.

Drachen Jager
03-19-2012, 09:44 AM
Agents really only seem to care if it's an advance paying publisher, or if you DID publish a previous work and it sold really well. Otherwise, not even worth mentioning.

Panican
06-19-2012, 05:58 PM
A friend of a friend is now querying agents and publishers of the Ace-Pyr level. He figures that if an agent bites first there will be a better contract, and if a publisher bites first - this will help get a good agent for his future works. Makes sense to me.

rainsmom
06-19-2012, 08:04 PM
Querying agents and publishers at the same time is a risky proposition. There are a limited number of potential publishers in a particular genre. If your friend submits to a number of them, that's cutting the number that an agent has open to him.

Query agents first. If you don't get an agent, then try subbing directly to publishers. But don't shoot your prospective agent in the foot before he even gets started.

Miss Plum
06-19-2012, 09:12 PM
I've got to weigh in on this notion that the publishing industry has that catch-22. It simply isn't so. There are tons of big-selling agents who are seeking new talent and continuing to build their lists. Yes, there are also some who are busy up to their eyeballs and who are only considering new clients on referral. But it isn't that hard. The Ask the Agent and yes even the Rejection and Dejection threads here are full of evidence that agents are requesting materials from new writers who send them intriguing, well-written pitches.

Panican
06-20-2012, 10:15 AM
There are a limited number of potential publishers in a particular genre. If your friend submits to a number of them, that's cutting the number that an agent has open to him.


For speculative adventure there's a limited number of huge publishers, who only communicate with agents - he can't cut their number even if he wants to.

Of those accepting non-agented stuff, about half a dozen are relatively big ones who do accept queries and submissions (Tor, Ace, Baen, Edge, Daw, Pyr, Angry Robot); a few smaller advance paying ones like Delirium, Medallion, Zharmae; a few royalty based big epubs like Samhain, Carina, Necro, Blood Bound; then a huge list of mid-list small publishers; then an endless list of tiny-tiny publishers.

Naturally I wish my friend of a friend all the best in managing to secure a deal within the field of advance paying or mature royalty-based publishers, but best of all would be of course to get a good agent and penetrate the bigger fortresses.

Anyway, he said Ace ask for people to not query other publishers until they've replied, so that certainly also cuts down on the cutting down of potential agented queries. Also, I've heard plenty examples of the same publisher turning down an unagented sub and then acce3pting it when it's agented.

In essence, rainsmom, you are very right - one should'nt use up all of one's options at once, it's just I think today there are more options than ever to use up.

Terie
06-20-2012, 12:20 PM
There are a limited number of potential publishers in a particular genre. If your friend submits to a number of them, that's cutting the number that an agent has open to him.

For speculative adventure there's a limited number of huge publishers, who only communicate with agents - he can't cut their number even if he wants to.

That's not what Rainsmom meant. If your friend-of-a-friend submits to the publishers that don't require agents and then later gets an agent, the agent won't be able to submit to the publishers to which the manuscript has already been submitted.

Since agents can typically negotiate a much better deal than an unagented author can, it's better to start with agents, and only start submitting directly to pubishers if one doesn't secure representation.

Panican
06-20-2012, 06:05 PM
Since agents can typically negotiate a much better deal than an unagented author can, it's better to start with agents, and only start submitting directly to pubishers if one doesn't secure representation.

Ah, that only works for rational and patient people. Some want it all and they want it now and they rush trying to do everything at once.

Terie
06-20-2012, 06:22 PM
Ah, that only works for rational and patient people. Some want it all and they want it now and they rush trying to do everything at once.

Yeah. That impatience thing is a real problem for folks who want to break into the publishing industry, which moves at glacial speed. :)

rainsmom
06-20-2012, 06:49 PM
Ah, that only works for rational and patient people. Some want it all and they want it now and they rush trying to do everything at once.
He'll be very bummed out if an agent shows interest and then decides not to offer because the manuscript has already been out.

Barbara R.
06-20-2012, 06:55 PM
Yeah. That impatience thing is a real problem for folks who want to break into the publishing industry, which moves at glacial speed. :)

True. Impatience is also the main cause for that unfortunate writers' malady I call Premature Submission: sending a book out to market one or two drafts too soon.

Tiarnan_Ceinders
06-20-2012, 07:46 PM
I actually blogged about impatience and the waiting game just now. I'll post a snippet here, because I think this is an important discussion:

Realize that writing isn’t your job. Not just yet. Most likely, you are a high-school teacher, a stay-at-home mom, or any number of things. But writing books isn’t your primary source of income. You are a writer, yes, and may define yourself as such. But most likely you are not making a living as a writer and author. When I had lunch with my editor the other day, he said that there were a couple of things he liked about working with me. I’m always pleasant, I turn my work in early, and I don’t act as if my entire life is depending on the book.


I think that can be one of the most stressful things for an agent, editor or publisher: when your client is so desperate to achieve their dream that it becomes hard to give them constructive criticism, or to say “hey, we’re going to have to delay the release of your book” or any number of things that can break their hearts.


You have to work hard to achieve your dream, but the waiting game is sometimes very much like the dating game – act desperately and you’ll turn your date off. You need to be interested, professional and passionate. But you also need to keep in the back of your head that this is going to take time and you can’t let it get to you.

Old Hack
06-20-2012, 08:59 PM
True. Impatience is also the main cause for that unfortunate writers' malady I call Premature Submission: sending a book out to market one or two drafts too soon.

Indeed. There's a second form of Premature Submission: it happens when a writer submits to agents and/or publishers without checking them out properly first. It's just as regrettable as the other kind, and the two forms often coexist.

Panican
06-21-2012, 02:40 PM
There's a second form of Premature Submission: it happens when a writer submits to agents and/or publishers without checking them out properly first.

There's also a third folly in the middle: X writes a book, sends it out to the big boys before it's ready, it gets rejected by one and all. Then, when the book is finally ready, and is a quality product, or can be - once polished by professionals - X has already accepted inwardly that it's not good enough, and sends it to minor people who don't know how to recognize or handle a good book and how to make it successful. The post-premature submission desperation second submission, or something :)

Barbara R.
06-24-2012, 01:07 AM
Indeed. There's a second form of Premature Submission: it happens when a writer submits to agents and/or publishers without checking them out properly first. It's just as regrettable as the other kind, and the two forms often coexist.

For more on Premature Submission (http://barbararogan.com/blog/?p=65)...

Treesha
08-09-2012, 06:59 AM
Thanks for the info. I bookmarked many of the links.