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CreativityWorks
07-27-2007, 03:25 AM
Hi Everyone! I am a new writer and have been reading some of the threads from Absolute Write from time to time and decided to sign up. I just finished my first non fiction book and have been shopping for an agent. I am a professional musician and thought auditions were rough until I discovered what it's like to try and find a literary agent. What a total nightmare.

I am shocked by how poorly the process works and even more shocked by what I consider the lack of professionalism of agents.

I have been blessed with a fair amount of interest from my query letter and after WEEKS/MONTHS of silence was asked for book proposals and again for the manuscript by several. I have one agent on the hook who is an A+ agent and the rest were not even considerate enough to offer some constructive criticism or in some cases even a reply. I don't understand this behavior...They only accept like 3% of submissions and when they actually ask to read your writing don't even feel responsible for offering a response?

At least when you take a music audition they ask you to play it again if it is not quite right and offer suggestions to try it this way or that way. If they pass on you, you can go and play for the conductor or the person who auditioned you and learn why they did not like what you did or how to improve based on their insight. Why are agents not offering the same thing?

While I realize the only purpose of an agent is to sell your work, if they took the time to bother to read a lot of it in the first place, which they all claim they rarely do, then why will they not give you some feedback?

I specifically asked for it in 2 instances after hearing nothing and neither bothered to even respond after having requested all my material. It has been 2.5 months. The one agent who is very interested has asked me to redo my book proposal to meet her formatting guidelines and then supposedly will represent me. We have discussed her selling the book in the fall and her only other concern was the title of the book which I changed and she now loves. While she is the PERFECT agent, if I get her in the end, I was really hoping to learn something from this process and instead feel nothing but frustration.

How do you all put up with this horrible process? I have a thick skin and all- after all I am a professional clarinetist- but it is rather ironic that this is how it works considering it's the writing profession we are talking about...

Anyone have anything to add?? I am happy to have found this board. It feels good to vent to you guys who I know will understand this new experience for me...

Dawno
07-27-2007, 05:11 AM
Hi CreativityWorks! I've moved this to our AW Roundtable forum where I think it'll get a bit more response. Newbies isn't quite the right place for it.

Please feel free to go back to Newbies and post a "hello I'm new" thread - tell us a little about yourself and sit back while our friendly folk all welcome you.

Danger Jane
07-27-2007, 05:37 AM
hey man

I think they don't spend the time on offering suggestions in most cases simply because they have a LOT of manuscripts to read. Way too many manuscripts to send a personal reply to every writer. They are not beta readers. They're looking for a (mostly) polished, finished product, and there just aren't enough hours in the day to offer everyone a few words.

Ziljon
07-27-2007, 05:38 AM
Hi creativity,

I agree with much of what you wrote--and I'm a musician too. But I think you must not be aware of the sheer numbers of writers out there.

Playing the clarinet at professional level is a very highly specialized talent. Probably only a small portion of the people you've gone to school with can even make a sound come out of the clarinet, let alone a beautiful glowing tone. Whereas EVERY SINGLE PERSON you went to school with can write.

You can't compare a haggard lit agent to a conductor or orchestra manager. The lit agent is more like a screener for "America's Got Talent."

But still, they could be a little more organized...

Harper K
07-27-2007, 06:00 AM
Oddly enough, literary agent Nathan Bransford (who's been answering questions here at AW's Ask The Agent forum) discussed this very topic on his blog today:

http://nathanbransford.blogspot.com/2007/07/what-does-prospective-agent-owe-you.html

Read the comments, too. Some of them make the same points as you have, CreativityWorks.

I agree that it's lousy for an agent to request a full manuscript (or full proposal and chapters, in a nonfiction author's case) and then never even bother to say yes or no. I haven't begun submitting to agents yet, but I can imagine how off-putting it would be to get nothing in response to a full manuscript, or nothing but a form letter. That's the life of a would-be published author, though. When agents are giving feedback on rejections, they're not doing anything toward helping their current clients, or selling new projects.

A thick skin is key, and good for you for going into the submissions process prepared with one. Good luck with the current maybe-agent (!), and hope you stick around the boards here.

blacbird
07-27-2007, 06:45 AM
A thick skin is key,

A large-caliber handgun helps, too.

caw

CreativityWorks
07-27-2007, 07:00 AM
Thanks for your comment but you would be SHOCKED how many musicians are entering music schools and earning a performance degree. Its a bigger number than you might expect. However if agents are only accepting 3% of submissions that means that at least 70-80% of what they receive is immediately tossed, right? I am sure they skim a lot of material.. the process just seems to be really out of date with the times I guess.....

At least as a newbie this is what I see. I am sure I will become hardened and jaded as time passes. (smile)

CreativityWorks
07-27-2007, 07:02 AM
Thanks for your link. I found Nathan's blog post interesting and commented on it.

Birol
07-27-2007, 07:10 AM
How do you see it as being out-of-date with the times, Creativity?

CreativityWorks
07-27-2007, 07:18 AM
Technology offers so many ways to communicate and improve communication. Emails are easier than making a call or mailing a letter. Yet the world of agents and publishing seems to have a list of reasons why it is acceptable to not communicate. The written word, next to the sound of the human voice, is as intimate a process of communicating as it gets.

Don't you find it a bit ironic that the process is so provincial? Maybe I am simply not jaded and hardened to it yet but frankly I hope that does not happen to me. I tend to be the kind of person who wants to find a better way...

blacbird
07-27-2007, 07:20 AM
I am sure they skim a lot of material.. the process just seems to be really out of date with the times I guess.....

It is.

So . . . what are you going to do to change it?

caw

CreativityWorks
07-27-2007, 07:33 AM
Well caw, in general, this problem is the reason I wrote my book Build A Blue Bike: Ride Your Artistic Blues to Creative and Financial Freedom. So I guess for starters, I am going to do the best I can to get my material into the market to try and help. The creative industry needs an overhaul in general. New ways to create market share need to emerge in all kinds of creative disciplines including writing.

I am a believer in creativity and its power. I built a business from my dorm room that lasted 20 years in the music industry. Through that experience and teaching creative career development to artists at DePaul University, I had the privilege to teach, train, advise and observe thousands of creative types and their trials and tribulations to thrive and survive.

I truthfully feel that creative types, which include writers, are being short changed. Sorry if this was more than you wanted... no easy short way to answer your question.

blacbird
07-27-2007, 08:05 AM
Best of luck. Let us know how it turns out.

caw

Birol
07-27-2007, 08:07 AM
Don't you find it a bit ironic that the process is so provincial?

This question presumes that I find it provincial. In order to facilitate communication, don't you think it better to ask someone their thoughts and opinions rather than make presumptions? Wouldn't you find out more about the industry by asking questions before you answered them?


Maybe I am simply not jaded and hardened to it yet but frankly I hope that does not happen to me. I tend to be the kind of person who wants to find a better way...

Being informed and seeking to understand others who have different priorities and perceptions than your own is not the same thing as being jaded and hardened. What you are doing is implying that anyone who does not agree with you does not want to find a better way because they are jaded and hardened. It's attempting to create an us vs. them dichotomy that is irrelevant to this industry and this conversation.

Mac H.
07-27-2007, 08:50 AM
Why are agents not offering the same thing?
I'm not sure why you are surprised. Why should they offer services to people who aren't their clients?

Imagine that a telemarketer calls you and tries to sell you some office furniture. It sounds interesting and you ask them to send you a brochure.

You read the brochure, and decide that the office furniture isn't for you.

Are you seriously going to write back to the furniture company and explain why their colours don't match your decor? Are you going to offer constructive advice on how they could improve their products? After all, you only request 3% of brochures ... don't you feel responsible for offering them some feedback?

And remember - in this analogy you are receiving 20-30 letters/emails/cold calls EVERY DAY trying to sell you office furniture. Even if you don't send personalised replies to each of these, are you obliged to give feedback for the brochures you do request?

Good luck,

Mac

aruna
07-27-2007, 09:07 AM
Welcome, CreativityWorks. I agree with Birol and Mac. Agents do not OWE us feedback. Querying writers are not their clients. Their time belongs to those writers they do represent.
Though I agree that it is impolite not to at least say "no" to a rejected ms that was requested, I really can't say that the majority of agents behave in that way. In just about every case in which I sent in a full or partial manuscript I also got an official rejection - up till the time I got an acceptance!
Yes, it takes time and patience but it is a buyers market and the world is flooded with manuscripts. But even when I get a rejection, it would be crazy on my part to expect a critique on just WHY the agent didn't want/like it.
Good luck to you!

aruna
07-27-2007, 09:13 AM
Thanks for your comment but you would be SHOCKED how many musicians are entering music schools and earning a performance degree. Its a bigger number than you might expect. However if agents are only accepting 3% of submissions that means that at least 70-80% of what they receive is immediately tossed, right? I am sure they skim a lot of material.. the process just seems to be really out of date with the times I guess.....



And you'd be shocked at the quality of 95% of submissions to literary agents. It really does not take much more than a quick skim of most of them to tell they are not up even halfway up to scratch. Just as I would only have to play three notes on the clarinet for you to tell I am not up to scratch.
Only thing, there are far more wannabe authors than wannabe clarinet players!

Linda Adams
07-27-2007, 02:43 PM
Many agents who did comment have discontinued the practice because of bad behavior from writers. Imagine taking the time to write some comments, sending them out, and then getting an angry response back explaining to you why your comments are wrong. Unfortunately, it's rather routine for agents to receive comments like that. Often, instead of looking at the book to see what needs to be worked on, some writers blame the agent for not seeing their "vision." Judging from the agent blogs, even the form query letter, which is carefully worded to avoid problems, gets nasty responses.

CreativityWorks
07-27-2007, 03:17 PM
All I was trying to say is that there is a universal acceptance that agents need not offer anything more of a reply and writers have no choice but accept it. That process hardens you. How can't it? Is that good? Perhaps my motives are too pure. I would like to see every writer and artist find a niche they can profitably serve. While I do believe in survival of the fittest there are a lot of fit artists.

If you look at all the creative arts they all have the same issues. I have taught creative career development to artists for most of the past 20 years. This is in fact a big problem in the arts in general, mostly for artists that reach or approach a professional level. The competition for the same piece of pie is enormous and I simply believe that there might be new ways to make more pie by teaching artists how to get out from under the "system". I don't have all the answers but I have seen many climb mountains in less than traditional ways and I believe in original ideas.

Julie Worth
07-27-2007, 03:28 PM
At least when you take a music audition they ask you to play it again if it is not quite right and offer suggestions to try it this way or that way. If they pass on you, you can go and play for the conductor or the person who auditioned you and learn why they did not like what you did or how to improve based on their insight. Why are agents not offering the same thing?

Literary submissions and musical auditions aren't analogous. Most people can't play a musical instrument, but everyone (so it seems) thinks they can write. Auditions are generally in person, while queries are in writing. It's harder to reject someone instantly if they've shown up and performed, so you say try it again, or try it this way, then you reject them. Finally, everything takes more time in the literary world. Stacks of manuscripts are ahead of yours, and you can't read one in five minutes. It could take days, in your free time. So 2.5 months is nothing. I've had a publisher sitting on an MS for 8 months, and before that, they sat on a partial for another 8 months! So you're doing good. Take this agent seriously, and don't blow her off. If you're expecting to learn from agent rejections, it generally won't happen. I've received a couple of lengthy appraisals accompanying requests for rewrites, but my god, it's so much more productive to find good beta readers!

aruna
07-27-2007, 03:43 PM
That process hardens you. How can't it? Is that good? .

It toughens you but that's a good thing. It means you develop the stamina to go on to write a better manuscript. That is good. You don't sit nursing your grief that "Agent X rejected my WONDERFUL manuscript!"

larocca
07-27-2007, 03:49 PM
Whenever an agent or an editor (hi!) personalizes a rejection letter, there's a risk that the author is in the 1% who, rather than accept constructive criticism, wants to piss and moan "You don't understand me." That ungrateful author's not a mythical being, because I used to be him.

Plus, some of us are going all-out reading and evaluating, and then pitching or editing, like maniacs. It might take longer to explain the reasons for the rejection than to just say "screw this" and read something else. And there's always something else to read. A big ole pile of something else calling. I've got 10 notes on the white board above my computer screen that I'm ignoring to type this.

Plus, well, if an agent doesn't want to represent you, and doesn't bother to tell you, what are you going to do about it? Your complaints won't cost him/her any customers. Authors tend not to dump agents because they're damn hard to get. I don't have an agent, but if I did, would I dump him because he hurt your feelings? Nah...

Having said all that, I think it's damn rude not to just send the rejection letter so the author can submit elsewhere. That's all. Don't leave it pending. I'm an author myself. I hate that. Didn't your mamma raise you better?

I don't think it'd kill an agent to give you a prompt yes/no with a one-sentence reason in case of "no." But really, that's not his job. He gets paid a percentage of sales. The rest is just common courtesy, and some people don't have it. Do a greater percentage of them become agents than, oh, say, IRS auditors or hit men? That might be a topic for another thread! :-)

JJ Cooper
07-27-2007, 04:12 PM
You have handled yourself well CreativityWorks. I don't have enough experience in this area to comment but I just wanted to let you know that you have come across calm and logical. I hope you stick with us.

JJ

Jamesaritchie
07-27-2007, 04:56 PM
Not to throw stones, but it's you attitude that isn't professional, not that of agents. This isn't the music business, and there's no way on earth agents have the time to give feedback to every would-be writer who comes along. It simply isn't possible.

Agents do not claim to read every word you send. An agent reads only until you give that agent a reason to stop reading, and most of the time, this happens in the first few pages. Often on page one.

And as often as not, the only feedback an agent could give would be, "It just didn't hold my interest."

But here's the deal. It is not an agent's job to give you feedback. It is not an agent's job to tell you what you're doing wrong, how to fix this or that, or to do anything else for you. An agent's job is simple. Her job is to find writers who are good enough to sell. That's it.

An agent usually will give feedback IF what you send her is good enough, professional enough, and close enough to being right. She does this because it's in her best interest, not because she owes it to you.

If you have an agent willing to represent you, then hush up and let her do her job. Two and a half months is nothing. Let her do her job, and you do yours, which is to learn without having your hand held by an agent.

Enraptured
07-27-2007, 05:14 PM
The problem is that agents recieve such a large volume of queries. And in addition to reading queries, they also have to focus on their current clients' books. There just isn't enough time in the day for them to offer a personal response to every query, or even a fast response (personal or not).

Julie Worth
07-27-2007, 05:15 PM
I don't have all the answers but I have seen many climb mountains in less than traditional ways and I believe in original ideas.


There is a way around the query rat race. Like in any business, personal contacts can make the difference. Go to conferences and workshops, meet agents and editors. At the last workshop I attended, the author/instructor took my book with her, saying she would read it, and if she liked it she would pass it to her agent. This agent doesn't consider work from the unpublished, so I hadn't bothered to query her.

aruna
07-27-2007, 05:26 PM
However, the best answer to everything is: Write a rejection-proof book. I promise you, if you do that agents and editors and acquisition boards will fall at your feet! I'm still trying...
It's a business, folks, not a charity.

Julie Worth
07-27-2007, 05:29 PM
However, the best answer to everything is: Write a rejection-proof book. I promise you, if you do that agents and editors and acquisition boards will fall at your feet! I'm still trying...
It's a business, folks, not a charity.

And excellent title: HOW TO WRITE A REJECTION-PROOF BOOK. Of course, you need a platform, or this will be rejected.

CreativityWorks
07-27-2007, 05:30 PM
It toughens you but that's a good thing. It means you develop the stamina to go on to write a better manuscript. That is good. You don't sit nursing your grief that "Agent X rejected my WONDERFUL manuscript!"
Perhaps you need for some period of time hardening in this area. I respect the power of that but what if you don't? What if you already have the stamina and are willing to do whatever it takes and even have some skill, which many of the writers here do?

The eye of the beholder, in this case the agent, has something to offer to create a new angle or perhaps even a new larger readership, from their wisdom and insight. Would it not serve both the agent and writer better if say for a fee the agent would offer to provide feedback in a consulting capacity?

Agents are as frustrated as writers when there time is wasted by a 'close but not quite there' manuscript. I just got one of those kind of responses and I wish I knew what this particular reputable agent felt was missing. She represents a specific kind of audience based on the books she sells, very close but not exactly my core market, which makes feedback worth a lot. This agent's feedback essentially could possibly increase the size of my market.

But this process, like other creative disciplines, is a subjective process of evaluation. And it is not one sided. Writers are questioning the value, making judgements and determing the worth of agents too...

But my point is that potentially that writer with the 'close but not quite there' manuscript might just turn out to be an agent's next big meal ticket with their next revision or next new submission. A system to offer feedback for a fee is a worthy consideration. The price paid for the value of a service determines its worth to the buyer. No harm to either side if offered and not taken.

No editor or writing class can replace the critical eye of an agent with experience selling in a specific market who has just read your material. In the business world we hire consultants to help us so why can't agents offered something similiar?

Julie Worth
07-27-2007, 05:37 PM
But my point is that potentially that writer with the 'close but not quite there' manuscript might just turn out to be an agent's next big meal ticket with their next revision or next new submission. A system to offer feedback for a fee is a worthy consideration. The price paid for the value of a service determines its worth to the buyer. No harm to either side if offered and not taken.

This is so often subject to abuse that the AAR guidelines prohibits it.

From the Canon of Ethics (http://www.aar-online.org/mc/page.do?sitePageId=10337&orgId=aar):

The AAR believes that the practice of literary agents charging clients or potential clients for reading and evaluating literary works (including outlines, proposals, and partial or complete manuscripts) is subject to serious abuse that reflects adversely on our profession. For that reason, members may not charge clients or potential clients for reading and evaluating literary works...

CreativityWorks
07-27-2007, 05:42 PM
This is so often subject to abuse that the AAR guidelines prohibits it.

From the Canon of Ethics (http://www.aar-online.org/mc/page.do?sitePageId=10337&orgId=aar):

The AAR believes that the practice of literary agents charging clients or potential clients for reading and evaluating literary works (including outlines, proposals, and partial or complete manuscripts) is subject to serious abuse that reflects adversely on our profession. For that reason, members may not charge clients or potential clients for reading and evaluating literary works...
AH.. but of course a rule that needs to be revisted by establishing clear guidelines that will offer it sturdy professional economic legs for both agent and writer...

aruna
07-27-2007, 05:43 PM
The eye of the beholder, in this case the agent, has something to offer to create a new angle or perhaps even a new larger readership, from their wisdom and insight. Would it not serve both the agent and writer better if say for a fee the agent would offer to provide feedback in a consulting capacity?


But my point is that potentially that writer with the 'close but not quite there' manuscript might just turn out to be an agent's next big meal ticket with their next revision or next new submission. A system to offer feedback for a fee is a worthy consideration. The price paid for the value of a service determines its worth to the buyer. No harm to either side if offered and not taken.

No editor or writing class can replace the critical eye of an agent with experience selling in a specific market who has just read your material. In the business world we hire consultants to help us so why can't agents offered something similiar?

If you have a manuscript which is nearly there but not quite, an agent with a sharp eye will take it on and help you revise it - for free.
It's up to you to get it to that "nearly there" point, though. Sometimes, with a consultant; I for instance have used a good paid consultant for my first novel. For other writers, beta readers are enough. But up to a certain point of "readyness" it just is not the agent's job.

Julie Worth
07-27-2007, 05:45 PM
AH.. but of course a rule that needs to be revisted by establishing clear guidelines that will offer it sturdy professional economic legs for both agent and writer...

If you want to spend money, hire a book doctor.

CreativityWorks
07-27-2007, 05:45 PM
Look, I'VE BEEN THERE. I've been through it. I've even been on best-seller lists. And I have started the process all over again, but for that I need to be BETTER.
In this business there's no room for complacency; there is always room for improvement.
If you already have stamina, then why are you complaining?
The purpose of my thread was to open up a discussion. I am grateful I have. In the process, as a newbie to writing and to the board, I am pleased to meet you and learn about your ideas and thoughts on the business of writing.

CreativityWorks
07-27-2007, 05:55 PM
Don't you find it ironic that the Canon of Ethics won't allow an agent to offer this service when you are not a client? What conflict is there? The agent reads your material for free and declines to represent you, at which point they should be free to offer consulting services because they will never represent you. No one says you have to take them up on it if it was offered.

aruna
07-27-2007, 06:10 PM
Good agents are usually far too busy to be interested in such work. Book doctoring is a different profession altogether.

grommet
07-27-2007, 06:44 PM
Amen, Aruna.

The problem is that there are unscrupulous agents out there who will reject everyone and refer them to their book doctoring services. People agree to use these services because they're operating under the (optimistic) assumption that if they use the service and improve their book, they'll have an in with the agent who rejected them.

By only making their money off the work they sell, there's an implicit understanding that an agent is going to try that much harder to sell your work.

And, frankly, agents don't have time to be offering this kind of service on top of what they already do. I would much rather my agent be concentrating on selling my books then improving manuscripts that they've already rejected and have no intention of representing. If that's cold, then so be it.

grommet (http://www.kathrynmillerhaines.com)

ccarver30
07-27-2007, 06:58 PM
Um, yeah it totally sucks ass. I think that sums it up. :)

Birol
07-27-2007, 07:14 PM
I think it's always good to revisit these links from time-to-time:

It Came From the Slush Pile (http://www.intergalacticmedicineshow.com/cgi-bin/mag.cgi?do=columns&vol=carol_pinchefsky&article=003)

SlushKiller (http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/004641.html)

Tor Slush Pic #1 (http://www.sfrevu.com/ISSUES/2002/0208/Event%20-%20Tor/20020416%20Tor-NYC%20050.jpg)

Tor Slush Pic #2 (http://www.sfrevu.com/ISSUES/2002/0208/Event%20-%20Tor/20020416%20Tor-NYC%20059.jpg)

Tor Slush Pic #3 (http://www.sfrevu.com/ISSUES/2002/0208/Event%20-%20Tor/20020416%20Tor-NYC%20053.jpg)


CreativityWorks, these pictures and articles are from editors and a publisher that accepts unagented submissions, but it representative of the other side of the process that you are criticizing.

Nathan Bransford
07-27-2007, 07:37 PM
Interesting points, everyone! And thanks for linking to my blog post. And Birol, those pictures are amazing! I wish I could take a screen capture of my inbox when I come back from vacation.

I really respect CreativityWorks' idealism and I think we're cut from the same cloth. I wish I could give more feedback to people to help them on the way, but there just isn't enough time in the day. That's why I decided to start my blog -- so that I could provide collective feedback and hopefully help people out without the time burden of trying to help every single one of the 8,000-10,000 writers who query me every year.

There just isn't enough time. And ultimately, as I said in my blog post yesterday, my responsibility is to my clients. Any personalization or above-and-beyond help you receive from an agent who is not YOUR agent is time that agent took away from their very busy schedule to help you. It's not our job to do it, so I hope people appreciate when they do receive a personalized response rather than treating it like their birthright as an author.

Anyway, I found this discussion interesting, and good points all around.

Another
08-02-2007, 04:01 AM
When I saw the thread title, I thought it might deal with, well, “overhauling” the process. In that spirit, I harked back to old econ courses and asked self, “What does a market do when supply exceeds demand?” Where the market is private, price is used to “clear” the market so long queues don’t develop of the sort sitting on agent’s desks and e boxes. In the public sphere, e.g. roadways, we allocate scarce space without such market clearing prices and the result, as with agents desks, is congestion (though some cities -- e.g. London, Stockholm, Singapore -- are now pricing road use to match peaks and valleys of demand and thereby tame congestion).

And so, CreativityWorks may be on to something. The question stands: what might be submission pricing options to clear the market in agent query process so long response delays and curt responses are reduced? Of course there are potential ethical and abuse implications, as with any service pricing system, but is it impossible to imagine those might be managed as they are in so much of the private service sphere? If not, what is it that is so unique to the agent process as to prevent consideration of a pricing system? Want your ms reviewed in 30 days? That will be $X. 60 days? Y$. And for an extra $Z, get a one page response.

Thoughts?

Cathy C
08-02-2007, 04:31 AM
Two things:

First, it's important to remember that not EVERY agent doesn't respond to each query. It's easy to generalize an entire industry through the actions of a rude few. Just like it's easy to say that all Motor Vehicle Department employees are rude, when they're not. Of course there are some, just like there are some worthless doctors, dentists and such. After all, there are plenty of professional in business today who squeaked by getting a degree by scoring one point above failing. Just sayin...

Next, I liken the agent business to the legal industry in the U.S. Everybody is entitled to legal representation. Unfortunately, though, not everybody has a case. Ethical attorneys are required to turn down as clients people who want to sue someone when they don't have the elements that would make it stand up in court. They use words like "frivolous" and "groundless," but the reason is the same. Your reasons aren't good enough and I'll get slapped down by those I answer to. Agents, too, know what elements are required by publishers and tend to refuse those people who "don't have a case."

Now, whether the individual agent takes the time to tell the person WHY they're being refused . . . well, that's sort of up to the agent to choose, IMO. I worked for an attorney who wouldn't say why the case wouldn't hold water when he refused a client. He knew he wasn't the ONLY attorney in town, nor the font of knowledge on the entire of law in the state. Some other attorney might find a case where he didn't see one. Why tell the person outright all the elements and give a course on law when the next guy might see it differently?

JMHO, of course. But I absolutely see why some agents give form rejection slips without info. Sometimes, it's not because it's easy. Sometimes, it's because it's more ethical. :)

CreativityWorks
08-02-2007, 07:03 PM
I am a newbie writer but one who built a business that I started in college in the music industry. My business catered to several hundred thousand musicians annually and we were able find time to offer advice and communicate with our customers and potential clients.

I struggle to accept the system (or lack of it) that agents use. I found the pictures Birol offered to be evidence that the process is broken. How can anyone do a quality job evaluating proposals let alone responding to any of them when they are diluged with inquiries? Do you really taste how sweet a piece of chocolate is if it's your 200th bite in one week? To create and recognize value you need some space.

My business grew from a couple of hundred thousand in sales to almost 12 million in 15 years. I employed 50 full time creative types. I can tell you it was a huge challenge, on many fronts, but especially finding procedural ways to be able to keep a clear head and have the time to work ON the business not IN it, was always my #1 issue and focus.

Agents, by all appearances, are not in control of their operations. Agents are running a business - a matchmaking business really. The right manuscript matched to the right publisher with an appetite for it. Catering to customers and finding potential new customers IS their business.

Agents are prospecting using writers hungry appetites and often unmet needs to be published to get the numbers of query's they need to score their sales. For the agent, it is a numbers game. It takes X number of query's to land X number of books sold. But yet they do not appear to have set up a system to manage this process....

While I absolutely accept that many submissions are way below an acceptable level to spark any interest by either a quality agent or publisher, why would an agent be the first person to even read an incoming query?? Given the voracious interest in writing and reading by so many, as evident by Absolute Write, you are telling me that agents cannot devise a system- a process- to weed before they bother to read?

In my business we hired interns who might be master's students or unemployed professionals who would work part time following quidelines to accomplish volumes of work that was then passed up as needed.

With all due respect to Nathan Bransford, agents are skilled salesmen. While Nathan and others may reach out to market there services in a benevolent way, is it really to be helpful or to appear to be helpful to continue to get lots of inquires? (isn't that called good marketing?)

If the agent was really interested in improving their job and making sure they have a clear head to do that job, why would they NOT create a very structured process that would allow the masses to query them but also offer them the time they need to properly offer a reply when they have requested, read and now will decline a full manuscript? Or to communicate with a potential future client and offer some advice?

I have 20 years of experience as a consultant to many in the arts who are/were trying to develop good business practices. I can assure you that what I most often find in the arts are business's lacking in good procedures to serve current and potential clients, and most being run by a high degree of emotionally driven decision making ( mostly because the business is run by artists). While I too am an artist, I have worked very hard to become a blend of both the business world and the creative world.

Don't you think we all deserve to have agents consider the process needs an overhaul? Instead of defending them and accepting the status quo, think about how much better it could be if they did more to help more of us get published.

If you always do what you have always done you always get what you have always gotten.

Don't you think that is infact the problem today in the creative world? Isn't it time we adapted and changed our thinking about the business of art and actually made it more user friendly so that more of us could prosper?

swvaughn
08-02-2007, 07:13 PM
I think the only way to overhaul the process would be A) more agents, or B) less writers. Numbers don't lie, and querying is a numbers game.

Soccer Mom
08-02-2007, 07:47 PM
My .02.



I struggle to accept the system (or lack of it) that agents use. I found the pictures Birol offered to be evidence that the process is broken. How can anyone do a quality job evaluating proposals let alone responding to any of them when they are diluged with inquiries? Do you really taste how sweet a piece of chocolate is if it's your 200th bite in one week? To create and recognize value you need some space.

The only way to alleviate the reality of too many submissions is to limit submissions. This is done by many large houses by simply not accepting unagented submissions.

Agents, by all appearances, are not in control of their operations. Agents are running a business - a matchmaking business really. The right manuscript matched to the right publisher with an appetite for it. Catering to customers and finding potential new customers IS their business. No. Finding new customers is not there business. The writer is a client. Not a customer. A good agent helps you get your ms in publishable form. They sell your book to the right publisher for the right price. The publisher then sells it to the public.

Agents are prospecting using writers hungry appetites and often unmet needs to be published to get the numbers of query's they need to score their sales. For the agent, it is a numbers game. It takes X number of query's to land X number of books sold. But yet they do not appear to have set up a system to manage this process....

Any agent will tell you that there is not a magic numbers game. Not all agents need to grow their list and they sell plenty of books from their existing list of writers. If they are looking to grow their list, then they accept queries.

While I absolutely accept that many submissions are way below an acceptable level to spark any interest by either a quality agent or publisher, why would an agent be the first person to even read an incoming query?? Given the voracious interest in writing and reading by so many, as evident by Absolute Write, you are telling me that agents cannot devise a system- a process- to weed before they bother to read?

The process for weeding out unwanted submissions IS the query. Why is this so difficult to understand? How do you weed out queries without having someone read them?

In my business we hired interns who might be master's students or unemployed professionals who would work part time following quidelines to accomplish volumes of work that was then passed up as needed.

Most agencies have interns.

With all due respect to Nathan Bransford, agents are skilled salesmen. While Nathan and others may reach out to market there services in a benevolent way, is it really to be helpful or to appear to be helpful to continue to get lots of inquires? (isn't that called good marketing?)

Good agents don't have to troll for queries. As noted above, they get plenty. But if they educate newer writers how to properly prepare submissions for maximum efficiency, the agent gets better queries and submissions. This is good. And believe it or not (Shhhh, big secret here) most agents I've dealt with actually like reading and they like authors. They want to help good authors along.

*snip*

Don't you think we all deserve to have agents consider the process needs an overhaul? Instead of defending them and accepting the status quo, think about how much better it could be if they did more to help more of us get published.

No. I don't deserve anything from the agents simply because I exist and write. It isn't their job to help "more of us" get published. Their job is to find worthwhile ms and sell them. Not to make sure that lots and lots of people get to see their ms get into print. Sorry.

Will Lavender
08-02-2007, 08:13 PM
I struggle to accept the system (or lack of it) that agents use. I found the pictures Birol offered to be evidence that the process is broken.

It's not broken. Write a good book and agents will want it. It's really that simple. Happens every day.

Tracy
08-02-2007, 09:36 PM
I think the only way to overhaul the process would be A) more agents, or B) less writers. Numbers don't lie, and querying is a numbers game.

More agents wouldn't work, because then the bottleneck would just happen further up the process, i.e. with the publishers. What we need is more readers or fewer writers.

So, which of you is going to be among the writers who'll give up writing to make room the market for the few? I'd offer to do that myself but I can't, because, because ... hang on and I'll think of a reason ...

Irysangel
08-02-2007, 09:42 PM
If the agent was really interested in improving their job and making sure they have a clear head to do that job, why would they NOT create a very structured process that would allow the masses to query them but also offer them the time they need to properly offer a reply when they have requested, read and now will decline a full manuscript? Or to communicate with a potential future client and offer some advice?


But you're assuming that the status quo isn't working for agents because you don't like the way it's set up or it's not working for you. I disagree - I think if it wasn't working for agents, they would change it. Look at how many agents have moved to electronic subs in the past five years alone.

I think, if anything, the agents would prefer that the system weed out those that can't be 'bothered' to follow the rules or dislike the system. Less work for them, and there are always enough books to sell. With computers and word-processing now, the number of viable manuscripts out there has multiplied tenfold, which means that much more work for agents. If you don't like the way they do business, there is someone else that will always be willing to accept their rules and take your slot.

Harsh, but I'm afraid it's true. It's the same for Hollywood and the music industry.

blacbird
08-02-2007, 10:12 PM
if it wasn't working for agents, they would change it.

Exactly the point. It is working, as far as they're concerned, and like it or not, a writer, especially a beginning writer, has as much chance changing that system as a manatee has of self-powered flight.

caw

CreativityWorks
08-02-2007, 11:10 PM
But you're assuming that the status quo isn't working for agents because you don't like the way it's set up or it's not working for you. I disagree - I think if it wasn't working for agents, they would change it. Look at how many agents have moved to electronic subs in the past five years alone.

I think, if anything, the agents would prefer that the system weed out those that can't be 'bothered' to follow the rules or dislike the system. Less work for them, and there are always enough books to sell. With computers and word-processing now, the number of viable manuscripts out there has multiplied tenfold, which means that much more work for agents. If you don't like the way they do business, there is someone else that will always be willing to accept their rules and take your slot.

Harsh, but I'm afraid it's true. It's the same for Hollywood and the music industry.
No, I am afraid you don't have it quite right. It has worked for me. I have an A+ agent, in my genre, who is interested in representing me. And I do believe in following rules and I also believe in the financial benefit to improving how business is done. What I find interesting is how consistent artists are in being followers.... not leaders...

If your not the lead dog in the pack the view is always the same...

CreativityWorks
08-02-2007, 11:15 PM
Exactly the point. It is working, as far as they're concerned, and like it or not, a writer, especially a beginning writer, has as much chance changing that system as a manatee has of self-powered flight.

caw
I beg to differ with you. I am more than just a new writer and my suggestions are intended to open up one's thought process. Being curious about another's point of view is interesting. My only issue with some of the views I read on AW is that they seem lacking in business knowledge and narrow minded. Given that this is a business, at the end of the day, one would think it would be of benefit to think a little more about the "box" all of you reside in and how it can be improved. I guess I am not one that likes boxes much, but that does not mean I cannot play the game...

Bubastes
08-02-2007, 11:19 PM
Why not ask the agents these questions instead of the writers? It's the agents' business practices you appear to be questioning, so asking them seems to make more sense. I'm curious to hear what your own agent has to say.

CreativityWorks
08-02-2007, 11:22 PM
But you're assuming that the status quo isn't working for agents because you don't like the way it's set up or it's not working for you. I disagree - I think if it wasn't working for agents, they would change it. Look at how many agents have moved to electronic subs in the past five years alone.

I think, if anything, the agents would prefer that the system weed out those that can't be 'bothered' to follow the rules or dislike the system. Less work for them, and there are always enough books to sell. With computers and word-processing now, the number of viable manuscripts out there has multiplied tenfold, which means that much more work for agents. If you don't like the way they do business, there is someone else that will always be willing to accept their rules and take your slot.

Harsh, but I'm afraid it's true. It's the same for Hollywood and the music industry.
I also have to add that as a consultant to arts organizations for 20 years that just because it is the way it has always been done, does not mean the business or in this case agent
a) Has really thought a lot about changing it
b) Is innovative
c) Has the skills to change it

I have been fortunate to witness many different kinds of arts organizations with these problems and your assuming a lot.

CreativityWorks
08-02-2007, 11:27 PM
Why not ask the agents these questions instead of the writers? It's the agents' business practices you appear to be questioning, so asking them seems to make more sense. I'm curious to hear what your own agent has to say.
Good idea! Thanks for the suggestion. Aside from my own, who I will eventually ask, the rest of them are too busy to reply, remember?
My purpose initially in starting this thread was to find out what all of you think since the agents are not able or willing to provide feedback. Except of course for the occasional benevolent reply from Nathan Bransford in a public forum.

blacbird
08-02-2007, 11:35 PM
I beg to differ with you. I am more than just a new writer and my suggestions are intended to open up one's thought process. Being curious about another's point of view is interesting. My only issue with some of the views I read on AW is that they seem lacking in business knowledge and narrow minded. Given that this is a business, at the end of the day, one would think it would be of benefit to think a little more about the "box" all of you reside in and how it can be improved. I guess I am not one that likes boxes much, but that does not mean I cannot play the game...

Let us know how it turns out.

caw

bethany
08-02-2007, 11:41 PM
I guess I just don't get what's not working for you. I quite enjoyed the excitement of the querying process. There were some definite ups and downs, but it was exciting, kept me glued to my inbox, that's for sure.

I'm not even sure what exactly your complaint is, that some agents don't respond? that they don't give you a thorough critique?

I'm an English teacher, and believe me, I know how hard it is to critique work, and how subjective. The amount of time it would take for agents to critique every work they request would be staggering and brain numbing.

Also, some writers take any response as an invitation to revise and send the work back. The agent didn't think the ending was strong enough, they tweak the ending and send it back. And it goes on and on.

CreativityWorks
08-02-2007, 11:42 PM
My purpose in getting involved in AW is not really to tell you about what happens to me, but instead to try and understand why this segment of the arts community, like others I have seen, enjoy complaining about a lack of money earned but are so unwilling to embrace change.. Could someone please tell me why writers, the one's who write the great novels and create the works that sell, are being treated like 2nd class citizens? Perhaps its because we allow it to happen to us by accepting things as they are and not speaking up. Perhaps its because we are so addicted to writing that whatever crumbs we are fed we accept. Change is not something that happens over night.... but the arts are in serious trouble as a whole. What are the writers on this board going to do to improve their working conditions and enviornment? How many of you are making so much money writing that you don't care to or don't want to?

There are as many bad books in the book store that are published. Why can't yours or mine be there too?

As Artists we accept too quickly that it is ALWAYS about the quality of our work. OF COURSE it can always be better. How quickly and easily we accept how we are treated by others who profit from US and our creative output.

Bubastes
08-02-2007, 11:53 PM
My purpose in getting involved in AW is not really to tell you about what happens to me, but instead to try and understand why this segment of the arts community, like others I have seen, enjoy complaining about a lack of money earned but are so unwilling to embrace change.. Could someone please tell me why writers, the one's who write the great novels and create the works that sell, are being treated like 2nd class citizens? Perhaps its because we allow it to happen to us by accepting things as they are and not speaking up. Perhaps its because we are so addicted to writing that whatever crumbs we are fed we accept. Change is not something that happens over night but the arts are in serious trouble. What are the writers on this board going to do to improve their working conditions and enviornment? How many of you are making so much money writing that you don't care to or don't want to?


Just speaking for myself:

1. I've never been treated like a 2nd class citizen by anyone in publishing. I personally think it works just fine, even with its flaws.

2. The lack of money won't go away as long as there are writers who are willing write for free or peanuts. Supply and demand, as always. As long as supply outstrips demand, most writers will make little money. Even many of the greats had (or still have) day jobs.

3. I wouldn't be so quick to lump "this segment of the arts community" together in one group, especially because writers' backgrounds vary more widely than, say, musicians.

Siddow
08-02-2007, 11:58 PM
My purpose in getting involved in AW is not really to tell you about what happens to me, but instead to try and understand why this segment of the arts community, like others I have seen, is so unwilling to embrace change.. Could someone please tell me where artist, the one's who write the great novels and create the works that sell, are being treated like 2nd class citizens? Perhaps its because we allow it to happen to us by accepting things as they are and not speaking up. Change is not something that happens over night but the arts are in serious trouble. What are the writers on this board going to do to improve their working conditions and enviornment? How many of you are making so much money writing that you don't care to or don't want to?

There are as many bad books in the book store that are published. Why can't yours are mine be there too?

As Artists we accept too quickly that it is ALWAYS about the quality of our work. OF COURSE it can always be better. How quickly and easily we accept how we are treated by others who profit from US and our creative output.

My reactions to the bolded text:

1. What? I've read that question four times and can't figure out what the heck you're trying to ask. My guess: Why do best-selling novelists get treated better than you. My answer: For the same reason rookie cops catch crap from 20-year veterans of the force; you haven't proven yourself yet.

2. Three words: Shiny New Pencils. My work environment is my home. I guess I could paint, perhaps vacuum, too. I did buy new blinds for the windows.

3. Why would you want your bad book in a bookstore? And, another very confusing sentence/question from you.

CreativityWorks
08-02-2007, 11:59 PM
I think we share in common earning an income not at writing, correct? While I am THRILLED as a new writer to find an agent, I have few worries if nothing happens. I earn a living selling clarinets and playing music and I assume you earn yours as a teacher?

But as a business person and one who has been inside many arts organizations, my eye is quick to look at "process" and potential outcomes from that process. I am deeply passionate about seeing artists of all genres thrive and my work over the next 20 years is about trying to make that happen.

However from having taught a number of courses to artists in career development, what I have also learned is that by and large artists have very few if any business skills- many of which would tremendously help them. Most of the time they are not developed because artists are emotionally based and have not been taught how to use them given their emotive foundation.

They frequently follow rules and rarely think of a way to get up the mountain a new way until challenged to- but when offered the opportunity to find a new way and given permission to they do quite well. By and large if you are creative you are SMART but you simply don't know how to be entrepreneurial with your creativity.

And lastly, when artists do know how to be innovative with their craft they make great entrepreneurs and profit enormously...

bethany
08-02-2007, 11:59 PM
I've read over this thread a couple of times, because as I said before, thinking you might explain, I'm not getting what you are saying.

I hear a bunch of 'think outside the box' (this is a cliche' that means nothing to me), the arts community has problems (huh?), agents are unprofessional (again, how?), but you are offering no concrete examples and no explanations. To me, this all reads very generally, somewhat abstractly, and a little bit insultingly.

CreativityWorks
08-03-2007, 12:01 AM
I have been inside dance, theater, higher education, and music organizations. My experience continues to grow but it is not just focused on music and shockingly the results are all the same. The same problems exist in all...

Bubastes
08-03-2007, 12:02 AM
However from having taught a number of courses to artists in career development, what I have also learned is that by and large artists have very few if any business skills- many of which would tremendously help them. Most of the time they are not developed because artists are emotionally based and have not been taught how to use them given their emotive foundation.


Like I said before, be careful what you assume. There may be other reasons why we don't see the problems that you do. I wouldn't automatically chalk it up to a lack of business skills, especially since more writers have day jobs outside of the arts than musicians, dancers, etc., and in a wider variety of fields.

Irysangel
08-03-2007, 12:06 AM
No, I am afraid you don't have it quite right. It has worked for me. I have an A+ agent, in my genre, who is interested in representing me. And I do believe in following rules and I also believe in the financial benefit to improving how business is done. What I find interesting is how consistent artists are in being followers.... not leaders...

If your not the lead dog in the pack the view is always the same...

I think you're mistaking 'follower' as 'plays by the rules'. The two are not necessarily the same thing.

Think of the vast majority of writers on this board. Yourself included (and I'm including myself here). When you query an agent, you are auditioning your stuff. You are asking if you are a good enough risk for this person to warrant spending a LOT of time on you with the chance of no money coming in the door. And it could be years before the agent sees any sort of payoff on your book.

I like to think of it as business courtesy, not 'thinking inside the box'. I've already put my work in on my book. Now I'm asking you to put in some time and money on your side to help me sell it. I would think that common courtesy would dictate that I would at least be kind enough to follow your instructions.

I'm sure the big names (King, Roberts, Grisham) or people with a nice, fat deal in hand have more leverage as to how they want the system to work for them. But they are also a guaranteed sale, and Joe Writer off the street is not.

Literary agenting is (in my mind) a lot more like a law practice. You can bring your case to them and hope they take it on, but if there's not a shot in heck of a dollar to be made, you can bet that any smart lawyer will turn it away.

Irysangel
08-03-2007, 12:10 AM
They frequently follow rules and rarely think of a way to get up the mountain a new way until challenged to- but when offered the opportunity to find a new way and given permission to they do quite well. By and large if you are creative you are SMART but you simply don't know how to be entrepreneurial with your creativity.

And lastly, when artists do know how to be innovative with their craft they make great entrepreneurs and profit enormously...

So basically, you are stating that authors do not have enough business savvy to be able to manage themselves because we are 'emotional' creatures. And if we knew how to manage ourselves, we could make a lot of money.

Considering that this is a thread about agents, I find this a circular argument. To follow your line of thinking, writers that are 'great entrepreneurs' and able to manage themselves, would not require an agent. Thus making this a moot point?

Siddow
08-03-2007, 12:11 AM
Could someone please tell me why writers, the one's who write the great novels and create the works that sell, are being treated like 2nd class citizens?

Could you please tell me, how are these writers being treated like second-class citizens?

CreativityWorks
08-03-2007, 12:11 AM
I think you're mistaking 'follower' as 'plays by the rules'. The two are not necessarily the same thing.

Think of the vast majority of writers on this board. Yourself included (and I'm including myself here). When you query an agent, you are auditioning your stuff. You are asking if you are a good enough risk for this person to warrant spending a LOT of time on you with the chance of no money coming in the door. And it could be years before the agent sees any sort of payoff on your book.

I like to think of it as business courtesy, not 'thinking inside the box'. I've already put my work in on my book. Now I'm asking you to put in some time and money on your side to help me sell it. I would think that common courtesy would dictate that I would at least be kind enough to follow your instructions.

I'm sure the big names (King, Roberts, Grisham) or people with a nice, fat deal in hand have more leverage as to how they want the system to work for them. But they are also a guaranteed sale, and Joe Writer off the street is not.

Literary agenting is (in my mind) a lot more like a law practice. You can bring your case to them and hope they take it on, but if there's not a shot in heck of a dollar to be made, you can bet that any smart lawyer will turn it away.
I agree. The trick is to use your skills reseaching agents and find the most likely agent who will...

CreativityWorks
08-03-2007, 12:14 AM
Could you please tell me, how are these writers being treated like second-class citizens?
Unless you are a super big name, without an agent your work cannot usually be sold. The agent holds all the cards....they have the power. The only defense is to think of your work like running a business and make sure it gets sold. I have seen some pretty bad writers get published by being really good business people... I am NOT advocating that but the truth is if you are even a half way decent writer, you need to be published to go through the process and get better... My point was that creativity requires research and entreprenurial skills to advance and be in control of our destiny...otherwise, in my opinion, the process strips us of our value and places it in the hands of those selling our work.

Bubastes
08-03-2007, 12:18 AM
I have seen some pretty bad writers get published by being really good business people...

I still don't get your point. Britney Spears is a really bad singer, but she's still better than most of the American Idol wannabes, so she's successful.

Maybe the real reason that bad writers are published is because it's still better than 97% of the slush.

CreativityWorks
08-03-2007, 12:18 AM
Like I said before, be careful what you assume. There may be other reasons why we don't see the problems that you do. I wouldn't automatically chalk it up to a lack of business skills, especially since more writers have day jobs outside of the arts than musicians, dancers, etc., and in a wider variety of fields.
AH EXACTLY my point... I would LOVE to see all of you having jobs INSIDE the arts and not having to have those day jobs to pay the bills....

Soccer Mom
08-03-2007, 12:20 AM
Um.....okay. New tactic.

You keep talking about overhauling, about change, about....what?

What specifically is your idea? What is it that you want to change. I'm asking for a concrete "My plan is to do Y instead of X." Not "I want to liberate the opressed masses."

ETA: And I like my day job. I did seven years of education to get it. I'm damn good at it. And it pays me a hell of a lot of money. But thanks.

CreativityWorks
08-03-2007, 12:22 AM
I still don't get your point. Britney Spears is a really bad singer, but she's still better than most of the American Idol wannabes, so she's successful.

Maybe the real reason that bad writers are published is because it's still better than 97% of the slush.
I AGREE that there is A LOT OF JUNK in every creative segment. A LOT of BAD OUTPUT. But what about all the rest that is above average to great? I think that business skills, research and entreprenurial talent has a lot more to do with who gets published and by whom and how than you think... I know this is true in the markets I have worked closely in and would bet it is very similiar. Making contacts at conventions, good marketing, pitching to the right agent the right concept because you know what they published last year who bought it and see a "hole" to fill matters....

Bubastes
08-03-2007, 12:24 AM
AH EXACTLY my point... I would LOVE to see all of you having jobs INSIDE the arts and not having to have those day jobs to pay the bills....

I'd rather keep my day job. Being around writers or by myself all day would drive me bonkers. Plus, the well of ideas would dry up, and then I'd end up being one of those insufferable writers whose main characters are also writers. Ugh.

There's a book called "Some Writers Deserve to Starve" by Elaura Niles. Another is "78 Reasons Your Book May Never Be Published" by Pat Walsh. If you haven't read them already, I'd recommend taking a look for some insights as to why things work the way they do.

Siddow
08-03-2007, 12:25 AM
Unless you are a super big name, without an agent your work cannot usually be sold. The agent holds all the cards....they have the power. The only defense is to think of your work like running a business and make sure it gets sold. I have seen some pretty bad writers get published by being really good business people... I am NOT advocating that but the truth is if you are even a half way decent writer, you need to be published to go through the process and get better... My point was that creativity requires research and entreprenurial skills to advance and be in control of our destiny...otherwise, in my opinion, the process strips us of our value and places it in the hands of those selling our work.

Um, let's see...if I don't have mad entreprenurial skilz, I can't be a writer? Thats just stoopid.

And nobody, not even the evil gatekeepers (who you think should charge for critique of your rejected work) can take away my value. If they can take away yours, then it's a 'you' problem, not a 'them'.

CreativityWorks
08-03-2007, 12:26 AM
Um.....okay. New tactic.

You keep talking about overhauling, about change, about....what?

What specifically is your idea? What is it that you want to change. I'm asking for a concrete "My plan is to do Y instead of X." Not "I want to liberate the opressed masses."

ETA: And I like my day job. I did seven years of education to get it. I'm damn good at it. And it pays me a hell of a lot of money. But thanks.
But I don't have rules to share with you to follow. If you love your day job than you are not ready or interested in what I am talking about. I am talking about taking the needed risks using logic, planning, research and entrepreurial talent to make a living doing that which you love. Now your job might fill all of those qualities but for most artists they would much prefer to be doing their art all day and earning a good living at it.. That requires understanding who you are, what you need, what you can do and how you can overcome the obstacles to get there. Artists by and large are not taught this stuff so they have often in frustration asked for rules...

This is what I mean by " out of the box"- finding a way to get where you want to go legally, ethically, happily and profitably...but independently of the controls and limitations placed on you by others.

CreativityWorks
08-03-2007, 12:28 AM
Um, let's see...if I don't have mad entreprenurial skilz, I can't be a writer? Thats just stoopid.

And nobody, not even the evil gatekeepers (who you think should charge for critique of your rejected work) can take away my value. If they can take away yours, then it's a 'you' problem, not a 'them'.
I like your attitude. You might be a mountain climber. It's what you do when you are rejected that matters... sounds like you would do more to identify where to get it sold or placed..because you recognize your worth...

Soccer Mom
08-03-2007, 12:31 AM
Okay, so you don't have any real suggestions, just that we revolt? I don't follow what it is you want us to do.

I understand who I am, what I need, what I can do and how I can overcome the obstacles.

I'm a writer. I need to have a finished project. I can make query agents and find one who will represent me and sell my project. That's what I'm doing.

I can think outside the box all day long. I can climb outside the box and dance around in circles. It won't take me to the heart of success any faster than the well travelled route. Sometimes a road is the way less travelled because it's a path to nowhere.

Siddow
08-03-2007, 12:33 AM
I like your attitude. You might be a mountain climber. It's what you do when you are rejected that matters... sounds like you would do more to identify where to get it sold or placed..because you recognize your worth...

Actually, every writer I've met on this board does research where to sell their work. It's quite common.

Bubastes
08-03-2007, 12:33 AM
I can think outside the box all day long. I can climb outside the box and dance around in circles. It won't take me to the heart of success any faster than the well travelled route. Sometimes a road is the way less travelled because it's a path to nowhere.

:D And my attitude is "What box? I don't see no stinkin' box!"

Siddow
08-03-2007, 12:39 AM
Maybe we should just cover our box with tinfoil.

CreativityWorks
08-03-2007, 12:40 AM
Okay, so you don't have any real suggestions, just that we revolt? I don't follow what it is you want us to do.

I understand who I am, what I need, what I can do and how I can overcome the obstacles.

I'm a writer. I need to have a finished project. I can make query agents and find one who will represent me and sell my project. That's what I'm doing.

I can think outside the box all day long. I can climb outside the box and dance around in circles. It won't take me to the heart of success any faster than the well travelled route. Sometimes a road is the way less travelled because it's a path to nowhere.
Do you make your living as a writer? If so then you have already figured out how to get outside the box and are doing it. Good for you. If you don't then don't make fun of me until you can. I make all my money using my creative talent every day... Nowhere is a pretty nice town by the way and a few people make some real money there.

CreativityWorks
08-03-2007, 12:40 AM
Maybe we should just cover our box with tinfoil.
You are funny. Are the books you write funny?

CreativityWorks
08-03-2007, 12:44 AM
:D And my attitude is "What box? I don't see no stinkin' box!"
Way to go... you obviously understand what I am saying...

CreativityWorks
08-03-2007, 12:45 AM
Actually, every writer I've met on this board does research where to sell their work. It's quite common.
Happy to know that cause I have read more posts about those who don't ... just shot gun blasts...Good news!

Siddow
08-03-2007, 12:50 AM
You are funny. Are the books you write funny?

I write horror. So yes, they're funny. :)

Before you ask: None of them are published (yet). I have been published in short fiction, and some non-fic, too. I haven't failed to be published in novel-length. I just haven't tried yet.

Soccer Mom
08-03-2007, 12:52 AM
Do you make your living as a writer? If so then you have already figured out how to get outside the box and are doing it. Good for you. If you don't then don't make fun of me until you can. I make all my money using my creative talent every day... Nowhere is a pretty nice town by the way and a few people make some real money there.

I'm not trying to make fun of anyone. I just don't understand what it is you are arguing against. You say you have an agent, but the rest of us are supposed to break free of the limitations of the process and...do what?

This is where you lose me. What limitations and restrictions are we supposed to free ourselves from?


The title of your thread is "Overhauling the Agent Process." You have yet to explain what part of the system you are proposing to change.

ETA: At the moment, there are 83 people perusing the Background Checks and Bewares forum. Those are people doing research.

CreativityWorks
08-03-2007, 01:01 AM
I'm not trying to make fun of anyone. I just don't understand what it is you are arguing against. You say you have an agent, but the rest of us are supposed to break free of the limitations of the process and...do what?

This is where you lose me. What limitations and restrictions are we supposed to free ourselves from?


The title of your thread is "Overhauling the Agent Process." You have yet to explain what part of the system you are proposing to change.

ETA: At the moment, there are 83 people perusing the Background Checks and Bewares forum. Those are people doing research.
If an agent does not accept your query your work is likely to not be sold. Is it acceptable to simply give up and put the manuscript on a shelf to collect dust? Not in my book. The agent is one possible avenue..there are many others. Self-publish, teach workshops on the material if its non fiction, teach a writing class it improves your craft, make your fanatasy book into a play and sell the book after each performance... use your imagination but don't let the agent control your destiny.

At the same time I have questioned if agents are really doing their jobs as well as they could be to allow for a better line of communciation to be available to writers and those who can sell what they write; agents. If the agent was more open, accessible, interested and able there would be increased opportunity for those that fall into the better to excellent category surely...

It's a 2 sided coin. What can the writer do with or without the agent and what could the agent do better... But from this entire thread the impression I have gotten is that it really does not matter to agents if they do better, yet I have not heard anyone tell me they are making so much money to not question the process to see if it could yield a better result.

CreativityWorks
08-03-2007, 01:03 AM
If an agent does not accept your query your work will not be sold. Is it acceptable to simply give up and put the manuscript on a shelf to collect dust? Not in my book. The agent is one possible avenue..there are many others. Self-publish, teach workshops on the material if its non fiction, make your fnatasy book into a play and sell the book after each performance... use your imagination but don't let the agent control your destiny.

At the same time I have questioned if agents are really doing their jobs as well as they could be to allow for a better line of communciation to be available to writers and those who can sell what they write; agents. If the agent was more open accessible interested and able there would be increased opportunity for those that fall into the better to excellent category surely...

It's a 2 sided coin. What can the writer do with or without the agent and what could the agent do better... But from this entire thread the impression I have gotten is that it really does not matter to agents if they do better, yet I have not heard anyone tell me they are making so much money to not question the process to see if it could yield a better result.
I will check out the background and beware threads next... thanks for that...

CreativityWorks
08-03-2007, 01:05 AM
I write horror. So yes, they're funny. :)

Before you ask: None of them are published (yet). I have been published in short fiction, and some non-fic, too. I haven't failed to be published in novel-length. I just haven't tried yet.
Would love to read something you have written.. when and where can it be found?

Soccer Mom
08-03-2007, 01:22 AM
At the same time I have questioned if agents are really doing their jobs as well as they could be to allow for a better line of communciation to be available to writers and those who can sell what they write; agents.
Most agents are excellent at communicating with their clients. They owe no duty to those who aren't their clients.

If the agent was more open, accessible, interested and able there would be increased opportunity for those that fall into the better to excellent category surely... Interested? Of course they are. That is how they make their living and for most of them, it's their passion. They have a method for evaluating the work of potential clients. You query them. They really do respond. Honest.

It's a 2 sided coin. What can the writer do with or without the agent and what could the agent do better... But from this entire thread the impression I have gotten is that it really does not matter to agents if they do better, yet I have not heard anyone tell me they are making so much money to not question the process to see if it could yield a better result.

Okay, one last time and then I think we are just going to have to agree to disagree. I don't think the system is broke. Agents make their money from selling books. The more the writer makes, the more the agent makes.

And as I said, you'll discover that for most of the good agents, books are their passion. They want to hear from wonderful new writers. They are thrilled to discover one and build a career.

What more is it you desire from agents?

Birol
08-03-2007, 01:23 AM
Do you make your living as a writer? If so then you have already figured out how to get outside the box and are doing it. Good for you. If you don't then don't make fun of me until you can. I make all my money using my creative talent every day... Nowhere is a pretty nice town by the way and a few people make some real money there.

Based on what you've said on this board, you do not make your living as an artist (musician or writer) as you would have the members of this community believe. Instead, you make your living as a consultant and as a seminar instructor trying to convince writers and artists and musicians that you have the magic, get rich quick, solution to all their desires and dreams.

I'm really starting to suspect that this thread is less about your ideas of improving the industry and more of an infomercial, attempting to convince the members here that if they only send you three easy payments of $19.95 (or if they just buy your book), they, too can millions while working part-time and living the Great American Dream. If they act now, you might even throw in some Ginsu knives.


I also have to add that as a consultant to arts organizations for 20 years

In other words, you've been making your living as a consultant.


I earn a living selling clarinets and playing music and I assume you earn yours as a teacher?

And as a salesman.


However from having taught a number of courses to artists in career development, what I have also learned is that by and large artists have very few if any business skills- many of which would tremendously help them.

And you've been paid to conduct seminars.



It seems to me that your income as a musician has been secondary to your other sources of income. I suspect your current gig as a writer is more about promoting and expanding your public speaking and consultant services to another group of individuals than about anything else. Are we part of the platform you pitched when you were sending your book proposal out to prospective agents?

CreativityWorks
08-03-2007, 01:26 AM
Based on what you've said on this board, you do not make your living as an artist (musician or writer) as you would have the members of this community believe. Instead, you make your living as a consultant and as a seminar instructor trying to convince writers and artists and musicians that you have the magic, get rich quick, solution to all their desires and dreams.

I'm really starting to suspect that this thread is less about your ideas of improving the industry and more of an infomercial, attempting to convince the members here that if they only send you three easy payments of $19.95 (or if they just buy your book), they, too can millions while working part-time and living the Great American Dream. If they act now, you might even throw in some Ginsu knives.



In other words, you've been making your living as a consultant.



And as a salesman.



And you've been paid to conduct seminars.



It seems to me that your income as a musician has been secondary to your other sources of income. I suspect your current gig as a writer is more about promoting and expanding your public speaking and consultant services to another group of individuals than about anything else. Are we part of the platform you pitched when you were sending your book proposal out to prospective agents?
WOW. Amazing how you can come to all kinds of conclusions and not ask any questions... I would be very careful attacking someone's character as boldly as you have. What if its not true??

Look, it might be hard for someone like you to fathom that I could have many talents and be paid for most of them but I do, sorry. I am leaving for Italy on Saturday to perform as a paid soloist with a small wind ensemble. I have started several business's that have allowed me to play clarinet for hours each day hand selecting instrument for people and earned great money while still playing. I have taught at several universities and served on a number of boards trying to improve how artists work and live because I care deeply about it. I have been paid to speak and to consult because I was asked to and as a result figured out I was good at it and offer services for it now. The book I have written is about the creative process and I frankly don't care if it sells. I care about helping artists do better. I earn enough money as it is right now. But most importantly I have CREATIVELY figured out how to not work a day job and earn really fantastic money doing things I love to do... and what about YOU??

Birol
08-03-2007, 01:31 AM
If an agent does not accept your query your work is likely to not be sold. Is it acceptable to simply give up and put the manuscript on a shelf to collect dust? Not in my book. The agent is one possible avenue..there are many others. Self-publish, teach workshops on the material if its non fiction, teach a writing class it improves your craft, make your fanatasy book into a play and sell the book after each performance... use your imagination but don't let the agent control your destiny.

Frequent writing forums and other venues where "creative" types hang out. Convince them that the system is broken and offer to sell them a book that explains how to "fix" it.


What more is it you desire from agents?


She's not really desiring anything more from agents. What she wants is for us to buy her book. She's building her platform.

Cathy C
08-03-2007, 01:32 AM
Unless you are a super big name, without an agent your work cannot usually be sold. The agent holds all the cards....they have the power.

I'm sorry, but do you really believe this? Agents don't have the power. Neither do publishers. The READERS have the power. They make or break a publisher with every book they buy (or don't buy.) Today they want paranormal (in my genre.) Tomorrow that'll bore them and they'll want mystery . . . or WWI foxhole stories . . . or futuristic wars set in a galaxy far, far away. The point is that agents are 1/2 businesspeople and 1/2 seer. They watch the numbers on the shelf and look for what's selling. Then they look for more of it to sell to the same publishers.

Why?

To make a living---or try to. Not every eager, fresh-faced agent makes a living, any more than every eager, fresh-faced writer does. The truth is that publishers would be more than happy to buy thousands of stories from writers directly if: a) there weren't so many of them versus the number of books the distributors/wholesalers and bookstores are willing to buy; b) if more of them were closer to publishing-ready; and c) if more people in the world were interested in buying a book versus playing a video game, watching the latest sitcom or engaging in (gasp!) sports and relationships.

15%---that's what most agents in NY make from the writer's work. To look at my own sad example, we made $20K per book in this latest contract. Yes, I do this for a full-time living. Or try to anyway. Our agent worked for MONTHS to make this deal, to get us that money because she (and we) believe our sales justify it. The first part of our advance was $18K, of which the agent made $2,700. Just considering the time that WE spent in meetings with her working through the details---and knowing how much time she spent meeting in person with the editor, and the publisher and her staff spent changing language in the contract and haggling on the phone, I estimate that over the course of 8 months, she and her people probably spent three weeks JUST on our deal. That's 160 hours, but over 8 months it's not much. And we're not her only clients. The deals she does are BIG, so there's lots involved. We're small potatoes in her line-up. But think about it. 160 hours into $2,700. She made a whopping $17 per hour, to pay the rent, her salary, the staff salary, etc., etc. Yes, there'll be more coming, but not for MONTHS. That's all there is for now. If it wasn't a large firm, with money coming in from multiple clients, I can't imagine how she'd do it. Some days I wonder how I do it.

But please don't pick on agents anymore. They're not all-powerful. They're not the bad guys. All of the ones I know LOVE writers. They LOVE books. They're in the business because their primary goal is to see good books get to the readers. They search frantically for those good books . . . to try to give the publisher something they can get to the public FAST. Fast means well written from the moment it arrives. Fast means letting the editor do the hundred other things that their job requires (actual editing is only a tiny part of what they do every day, and is usually done in their personal time, not on the clock.) Many editors I've talked to spend their time on the subway editing. They edit while they're cooking dinner, or after the kids are in bed. There's little time in the 8-5 to edit, much less read new submissions. But at least with an agent sending the book, there's a SLIM chance that it'll be ready to slide into a slot without too much fuss. There's no stripping an author of power. There's no intent to hold anyone back from getting published.

Reading over your various posts, the only thing that keeps coming to me over and over is that you're trying to sell something. If you well and truly want to change the system---want to make it possible for more authors to sell to publishers, then you need to spend your time increasing LITERACY. Get the word to the buying public to BUY MORE BOOKS! Get them to fork out enough money that there aren't 40-50% of the books shipped that get returned, unsold. Do that, and publishers will buy more stories. They'll make money hand over fist doing it. Agents won't be required in so many cases because the publisher will have the staff available to read manuscripts and work with the author to perfect them.

Okay, off my :Soapbox: now. Back to your regular discussion. :)

Soccer Mom
08-03-2007, 01:33 AM
Actually, Birol quoted your words back at you. How is that an attack?

Sounds more like a reality check.

You don't work a day job? You work a LOT more jobs than I do.


Look, it might be hard for someone like you to fathom that I could have many talents and be paid for most of them but I do, sorry. I am leaving for Italy on Saturday to perform as a soloist with a small wind ensemble. I have started several business's that have allowed me to play clarinet for hours each day hand selecting instrument for people and earned great money while still playing. I have taught at several universities and served on a number of boards trying to improve the how artists work and live because I care. I have been paid to speak and to consult because I was asked to and as a result figured out I was good at it and offer services for it. I have CREATIVELY figured out how to not work a day job and earn really fantastic money... and YOU??

Enjoy Italy.

Siddow
08-03-2007, 01:34 AM
WOW. Amazing how you can come to all kinds of conclusions and not ask any questions... I would be very careful attacking someone's character as boldly as you have. What if its not true??

Look, it might be hard for someone like you to fathom that I could have many talents and be paid for most of them but I do, sorry. I am leaving for Italy on Saturday to perform as a soloist with a small wind ensemble. I have started several business's that have allowed me to play clarinet for hours each day hand selecting instrument for people and earned great money while still playing. I have taught at several universities and served on a number of boards trying to improve the how artists work and live because I care. I have been paid to speak and to consult because I was asked to and as a result figured out I was good at it and offer services for it. I have CREATIVELY figured out how to not work a day job and earn really fantastic money... and YOU??
:popcorn:

Birol
08-03-2007, 01:35 AM
You've also written a book (http://www.entrepreneurthearts.com/) that you're actively promoting that alleges to answer the questions that you've been asking in this thread.

CreativityWorks
08-03-2007, 01:39 AM
You've also written a book (http://www.entrepreneurthearts.com/) that you're actively promoting that alleges to answer the questions that you've been asking in this thread.
No actually I have not. The book is about artistic depression and the root causes of artistic failure which has nothing to do with overhauling the agent process. But you have simply avoided my question now haven't you? What do you do Birol during the day to earn a living?

CreativityWorks
08-03-2007, 01:40 AM
:popcorn:
Can you send some popcorn my way???

CreativityWorks
08-03-2007, 01:48 AM
I'm sorry, but do you really believe this? Agents don't have the power. Neither do publishers. The READERS have the power. They make or break a publisher with every book they buy (or don't buy.) Today they want paranormal (in my genre.) Tomorrow that'll bore them and they'll want mystery . . . or WWI foxhole stories . . . or futuristic wars set in a galaxy far, far away. The point is that agents are 1/2 businesspeople and 1/2 seer. They watch the numbers on the shelf and look for what's selling. Then they look for more of it to sell to the same publishers.

Why?

To make a living---or try to. Not every eager, fresh-faced agent makes a living, any more than every eager, fresh-faced writer does. The truth is that publishers would be more than happy to buy thousands of stories from writers directly if: a) there weren't so many of them versus the number of books the distributors/wholesalers and bookstores are willing to buy; b) if more of them were closer to publishing-ready; and c) if more people in the world were interested in buying a book versus playing a video game, watching the latest sitcom or engaging in (gasp!) sports and relationships.

15%---that's what most agents in NY make from the writer's work. To look at my own sad example, we made $20K per book in this latest contract. Yes, I do this for a full-time living. Or try to anyway. Our agent worked for MONTHS to make this deal, to get us that money because she (and we) believe our sales justify it. The first part of our advance was $18K, of which the agent made $2,700. Just considering the time that WE spent in meetings with her working through the details---and knowing how much time she spent meeting in person with the editor, and the publisher and her staff spent changing language in the contract and haggling on the phone, I estimate that over the course of 8 months, she and her people probably spent three weeks JUST on our deal. That's 160 hours, but over 8 months it's not much. And we're not her only clients. The deals she does are BIG, so there's lots involved. We're small potatoes in her line-up. But think about it. 160 hours into $2,700. She made a whopping $17 per hour, to pay the rent, her salary, the staff salary, etc., etc. Yes, there'll be more coming, but not for MONTHS. That's all there is for now. If it wasn't a large firm, with money coming in from multiple clients, I can't imagine how she'd do it. Some days I wonder how I do it.

But please don't pick on agents anymore. They're not all-powerful. They're not the bad guys. All of the ones I know LOVE writers. They LOVE books. They're in the business because their primary goal is to see good books get to the readers. They search frantically for those good books . . . to try to give the publisher something they can get to the public FAST. Fast means well written from the moment it arrives. Fast means letting the editor do the hundred other things that their job requires (actual editing is only a tiny part of what they do every day, and is usually done in their personal time, not on the clock.) Many editors I've talked to spend their time on the subway editing. They edit while they're cooking dinner, or after the kids are in bed. There's little time in the 8-5 to edit, much less read new submissions. But at least with an agent sending the book, there's a SLIM chance that it'll be ready to slide into a slot without too much fuss. There's no stripping an author of power. There's no intent to hold anyone back from getting published.

Reading over your various posts, the only thing that keeps coming to me over and over is that you're trying to sell something. If you well and truly want to change the system---want to make it possible for more authors to sell to publishers, then you need to spend your time increasing LITERACY. Get the word to the buying public to BUY MORE BOOKS! Get them to fork out enough money that there aren't 40-50% of the books shipped that get returned, unsold. Do that, and publishers will buy more stories. They'll make money hand over fist doing it. Agents won't be required in so many cases because the publisher will have the staff available to read manuscripts and work with the author to perfect them.

Okay, off my :Soapbox: now. Back to your regular discussion. :)
Actually I agree with everything you said. How can writers help more books be sold? The only thing I am "selling" is trying to get more people involved in the business of their craft becaue it is the ONLY way to make the world change. By that I mean exacly what you said- what can writers do to establish credibility and build audiences? Several writers and editors I know have told me that most writers ( not all and obviously not you) lack the willingness to do what they promise in the marketing of their material in their queries and as a result they are not taken seriously which makes a few cause a lot to suffer...

How can the average writer get more of their material sold and interest built..that is where the core of my message lies. Its about making money doing something you like to do so that you don't have to do anything else...

CreativityWorks
08-03-2007, 01:51 AM
Actually, Birol quoted your words back at you. How is that an attack?

Sounds more like a reality check.

You don't work a day job? You work a LOT more jobs than I do.



Enjoy Italy.
I work 25 hours a week... I do a lot of different things that I enjoy but none the less 25 hours a week supporting myself and being the bread winner for my family. I am really proud of what I have accomplished doing things I love and Birol made me look like something I am not. Sorry if I reacted to it...but it seems that this is the kind of venue for heated debates and attacks and I do have a thick skin.

aadams73
08-03-2007, 01:51 AM
So basically this individual is spamming us?

Cathy C
08-03-2007, 02:00 AM
No, the writers are already involved in their craft. Ask any of the dozens of people here at AW who have sold in the past year. (There are a BUNCH of them.) We do everything in our power to build hype. The publishers do what they can to sell the book---not to the public, but to the BOOKSTORES. That's their customer. That's who buys from Random, and Pocket and Dell and Tor. But readers aren't coming to shop. Or, at least, they aren't buying in the quantities that they used to.

I'd like to see schools make required reading lists of CURRENT books, rather than just classics. I'd like to see more than just Oprah getting people excited about books. I'd like to see genre books being discussed in a positive, thoughtful manner. But it all comes down to money.

But don't worry about the authors. Those who are prolific are selling just fine. I have a friend who pubbed her first book in 2004, the month before my first was released. Since then, I've (along with my co-author) written and sold ten 100K novels. In that same time, she's written and sold EIGHTEEN. And she doesn't have an agent. She's sold to five publishers just on the strength of her writing---to publishers who require agented submissions. Yeah, it can be done.

I can't imagine ANYTHING that an author could promise in a query that they couldn't accomplish . . . unless it's finishing the book. That happens a lot, sad to say. But if you finish the book, and make it good, nothing else is required. Readers will either like it or not. If they like it, you can make a living. If they don't like it, no matter how good it is, or how hard the publisher works, or the agent works, or the author works, you won't. :Shrug:

Readers are subjective, and picky. There's no changing that to the point that it'll change the "system."

CreativityWorks
08-03-2007, 02:08 AM
No, the writers are already involved in their craft. Ask any of the dozens of people here at AW who have sold in the past year. (There are a BUNCH of them.) We do everything in our power to build hype. The publishers do what they can to sell the book---not to the public, but to the BOOKSTORES. That's their customer. That's who buys from Random, and Pocket and Dell and Tor. But readers aren't coming to shop. Or, at least, they aren't buying in the quantities that they used to.

I'd like to see schools make required reading lists of CURRENT books, rather than just classics. I'd like to see more than just Oprah getting people excited about books. I'd like to see genre books being discussed in a positive, thoughtful manner. But it all comes down to money.

But don't worry about the authors. Those who are prolific are selling just fine. I have a friend who pubbed her first book in 2004, the month before my first was released. Since then, I've (along with my co-author) written and sold ten 100K novels. In that same time, she's written and sold EIGHTEEN. And she doesn't have an agent. She's sold to five publishers just on the strength of her writing---to publishers who require agented submissions. Yeah, it can be done.

I can't imagine ANYTHING that an author could promise in a query that they couldn't accomplish . . . unless it's finishing the book. That happens a lot, sad to say. But if you finish the book, and make it good, nothing else is required. Readers will either like it or not. If they like it, you can make a living. If they don't like it, no matter how good it is, or how hard the publisher works, or the agent works, or the author works, you won't. :Shrug:

Readers are subjective, and picky. There's no changing that to the point that it'll change the "system."
Great insights and again I agree with everything you wrote. But as a professional writer and having the inside track because you have been at this longer than I, you are explaining some of the things that can and need to be done to encourage market share. I know a lot of artists who do not know how to promote themselves very well and who were not taught how to. You can create a certain amount of market share to help encourage interest. Do you think writers are doing enough to cultivate readers on their level if not Oprah's?

I see that as being part of changing the system.. the though process of how to become well known.. marketing is certainly AFTER A WELL WRITTEN BOOK a very important part of the process. It is the marketing I was talking about that is often let go by writers from those I have spoken to which I think is a signifcant piece to not embrace...

CreativityWorks
08-03-2007, 02:15 AM
So basically this individual is spamming us?
Right.. that's me.. a spammer... there is always a first for everything. Anyone got some popcorn?

CreativityWorks
08-03-2007, 02:16 AM
Can you send some popcorn my way???
Siddow- great note.. thanks. Would love to read what you write about...

aadams73
08-03-2007, 02:20 AM
Right.. that's me.. a spammer... there is always a first for everything. Anyone got some popcorn?

Well it seems that way since your agenda here is to push your book and build your platform.

There's not much wrong with the agent process. Perhaps you just need to write something they can sell.

CreativityWorks
08-03-2007, 02:29 AM
Actually not really.. I like to engage in this conversation. I am obsessed about helping artists. Ask my husband- he gets sick of how much I talk about it. But I am glad to know you have me figured out... (Could it even remotely be possible that I simply am deeply passionate and care about the world of artists?) From your reply, I guess that answer would be no. I have an agenda. I feel sorry for you that your thinking is so small...

Anyway, what kind of books do you write? It appears you have a lot of things in the works...

Birol
08-03-2007, 02:36 AM
WOW. Amazing how you can come to all kinds of conclusions and not ask any questions... I would be very careful attacking someone's character as boldly as you have. What if its not true??

I did not attack your character. Why do you believe I have? I listened to what you said and I provided my perspective on it.


No actually I have not. The book is about artistic depression and the root causes of artistic failure which has nothing to do with overhauling the agent process.

This isn't what your website indicates. The pitch you have listed there says nothing about depression. Instead, it talks about bridging the gap between business and the arts and helping "creative types understand all of the components they need to creatively develop to produce the seeds of a sustainable creative venture." This is almost exactly what you've been touting in this thread.


But you have simply avoided my question now haven't you? What do you do Birol during the day to earn a living?

No. Not avoiding it. I just didn't find it relevant to the discussion. I'm not as up on the terminology surrounding debate tactics as I should be, but there is a term that explains when one party throws out a question meant to distract attention from the point of the discussion.

You're also ignoring the fact that you've been avoiding answering questions about topics that you yourself have brought up for the greater part of this thread. You state that the process is broken, that writers don't have business sense, that people need to think outside the box, but when individuals ask you for examples of what is broken or why you believe it is broken or specifics about what you are proposing to change, you simply repeat your qualifications and your past experiences, without actually answering their questions.

You're very good at the no response response, by the way. I have been greatly impressed.


How can the average writer get more of their material sold and interest built..that is where the core of my message lies. Its about making money doing something you like to do so that you don't have to do anything else...

And where might the participants of this thread find the specifics and details of that message? Everything you've said and done in this thread indicates to me that you're working to build a platform for the book you have written.


So basically this individual is spamming us?

Not exactly. CreativityWorks is actively participating in this forum, albeit in topics and threads of her choosing. (Don't we all only participate in the threads we choose to participate in?). I just don't think she's being honest about her intentions in coming here and starting this topic.

Developing a platform is not only a tried and true method of marketing a non-fiction book, explaining your platform is even part of the non-fiction book proposal. I know there's discussions about how to do it in the Non-fiction forum. Honestly, study what she's doing and how she's doing it, because she's good and worthy of emulation. She's targeted her audience, engaged them in a subject matter that's of an interest to them, spun it back to the topic of her book, and kept them interacting with her while she's doing it.

CreativityWorks
08-03-2007, 02:52 AM
Well, I had fun on this thread and I learned a lot from many. Thanks. I certainly know how to jump in head first now don't I as a newbie? But my time with you all must come to an end now. I have to change hats and cross the pond to Italy. So needless to say, I will not be offering another post. I know some of you will miss my failure to launch a clear direction from this thread... Oh well. Forge on and I am sure I will learn a lot reading it later. (I assume it is stored?)

Anyway, I think AW is great and there is a lot as a writer I can learn from many of you. Thanks for letting me share my opinions in a world I am just starting to embrace. Afterall this site is for that right?

Life is an adventure and risk taking is fun. I consider the arts and writing a huge personal risk because they are simply hard to excel at. While life is super good to me now I spent 20 years working 80-100 hours a week to be in this fine spot today. It was because of my own creative experiences, hiring so many talented people and performing with and teaching so many others, that I have been spirtually and emotionally pulled towards wanting to see all of you thrive.

Oh but by saying that am I writing with an agenda? How absurd.. how about passion.. pure uncontrollable passion that I just let all hang out in front of you to see. You might think I am wierd for caring so much, but its my thing man. Can't say why I feel this way but it has driven most everything in life I have done and will do.... and it happens to pay well. Is that a coincidence?


Be well-

CreativityWorks
08-03-2007, 02:59 AM
I did not attack your character. Why do you believe I have? I listened to what you said and I provided my perspective on it.



This isn't what your website indicates. The pitch you have listed there says nothing about depression. Instead, it talks about bridging the gap between business and the arts and helping "creative types understand all of the components they need to creatively develop to produce the seeds of a sustainable creative venture." This is almost exactly what you've been touting in this thread.



No. Not avoiding it. I just didn't find it relevant to the discussion. I'm not as up on the terminology surrounding debate tactics as I should be, but there is a term that explains when one party throws out a question meant to distract attention from the point of the discussion.

You're also ignoring the fact that you've been avoiding answering questions about topics that you yourself have brought up for the greater part of this thread. You state that the process is broken, that writers don't have business sense, that people need to think outside the box, but when individuals ask you for examples of what is broken or why you believe it is broken or specifics about what you are proposing to change, you simply repeat your qualifications and your past experiences, without actually answering their questions.

You're very good at the no response response, by the way. I have been greatly impressed.



And where might the participants of this thread find the specifics and details of that message? Everything you've said and done in this thread indicates to me that you're working to build a platform for the book you have written.



Not exactly. CreativityWorks is actively participating in this forum, albeit in topics and threads of her choosing. (Don't we all only participate in the threads we choose to participate in?). I just don't think she's being honest about her intentions in coming here and starting this topic.

Developing a platform is not only a tried and true method of marketing a non-fiction book, explaining your platform is even part of the non-fiction book proposal. I know there's discussions about how to do it in the Non-fiction forum. Honestly, study what she's doing and how she's doing it, because she's good and worthy of emulation. She's targeted her audience, engaged them in a subject matter that's of an interest to them, spun it back to the topic of her book, and kept them interacting with her while she's doing it.

I hope she sticks around.
Can I hire you? Honestly, we all write about things that interest us and give me a break about not getting on other forums. I have signed up to be a beta reader for a woman who wrote a book about a bike trip and have chimed in on several other threads about agents. I suppose you can go and look for yourself what I have replied to... I have not been around all that long.

As for building a platform, who here does not have there last book or current word count under their name? I am sure if I start clicking under most everyone will learn a lot about another AW writer and view what they write differently as a result.

The getting to know you process takes time.... Birol. At least I am starting to feel some love...

Oh and the depressions thing.. who is going to put in their "pitch" that their book is written to help depressed artists? The title of my book as it stands right now is Build a Blue Bike: Ride Your Artistic Blues To Creative and Financial Freedom. Overcoming artistic depression is the bridge I speak about.

Siddow
08-03-2007, 03:01 AM
Siddow- great note.. thanks. Would love to read what you write about...

Yes, okay, I tried to keep it private, but you apparently have no respect for that.

So, folks, here's what I wrote in my PM:

I'm here anonymously. Please don't ask me any more identifying questions. If I wished for folks to know who I am, I would have a link to my site in my signature line.

I only answered your initial question because I thought that not doing so would be rude. I knew what the follow-up question would be, so I answered it.

I do not feel comfortable enough with you to reveal my identity. Sorry.

I will tell you that I've been writing for two and a half years, have a pile of rejection slips and a fistfull of paychecks, and my support comes from my husband's job, but that doesn't make me a full-time writer. I have four small children at home, very little time to write, and I feel like a success.

I really wish you'd post the changes you'd like to see in the agent query process. Your posts are vague and seem to come right from a marketing manual. Which is great if you're trying to sell something, but not so great when you're trying to enlist very smart people in a cause you can't explain.

Siddow
08-03-2007, 03:05 AM
And now I see she's flounced.

Siddow
08-03-2007, 03:05 AM
Can I use a bad word?

lostgirl
08-03-2007, 03:08 AM
*peeks in* sure. I like bad words. :D

EDIT: But I'm not a MOD *smiles big and innocently at Birol*

Birol
08-03-2007, 03:08 AM
Can I use a bad word?

Depends.

Siddow
08-03-2007, 03:11 AM
Depends.

Oh, I don't need a diaper for this one.

CreativityWorks
08-03-2007, 03:11 AM
Yes, okay, I tried to keep it private, but you apparently have no respect for that.

So, folks, here's what I wrote in my PM:

I'm here anonymously. Please don't ask me any more identifying questions. If I wished for folks to know who I am, I would have a link to my site in my signature line.

I only answered your initial question because I thought that not doing so would be rude. I knew what the follow-up question would be, so I answered it.

I do not feel comfortable enough with you to reveal my identity. Sorry.

I will tell you that I've been writing for two and a half years, have a pile of rejection slips and a fistfull of paychecks, and my support comes from my husband's job, but that doesn't make me a full-time writer. I have four small children at home, very little time to write, and I feel like a success.

I really wish you'd post the changes you'd like to see in the agent query process. Your posts are vague and seem to come right from a marketing manual. Which is great if you're trying to sell something, but not so great when you're trying to enlist very smart people in a cause you can't explain.
Siddow- lighten up. I was trying to let you know I apprecaited what you sent but I could not reply. I am sorry you find my behavior rude. I actually have a lot of compassion for you and what you are trying to accomplish and was sincerly interested in knowing more about you... sorry that was so hard for you to see.

Bubastes
08-03-2007, 03:11 AM
Oh, I don't need a diaper for this one.

:roll:

lostgirl
08-03-2007, 03:14 AM
You'd think I'd learn about peeking in places. I get in more trouble that way. :wag:

Siddow
08-03-2007, 03:16 AM
Siddow- lighten up. I was trying to let you know I apprecaited what you sent but I could not reply. I am sorry you find my behavior rude. I actually have a lot of compassion for you and what you are trying to accomplish and was sincerly interested in knowing more about you... sorry that was hard to see for you.


I don't need or desire your 'compassion for what I am trying to accomplish'.

And oh lawd, would you PLEASE rewrite this:



sorry that was hard to see for you


I feel really bad that you can't see the big fat REPLY button on your PMs.

Birol
08-03-2007, 03:20 AM
:e2hammer:

I know when you goofballs have me outnumbered.

Bubastes
08-03-2007, 03:23 AM
:e2hammer:

I know when you goofballs have me outnumbered.

:e2dance: :e2dance:

Soccer Mom
08-03-2007, 03:34 AM
Oh but by saying that am I writing with an agenda? How absurd.. how about passion.. pure uncontrollable passion that I just let all hang out in front of you to see. You might think I am wierd for caring so much, but its my thing man. Can't say why I feel this way but it has driven most everything in life I have done and will do.... and it happens to pay well. Is that a coincidence?
-


Could it be the book (http://entrepreneurthearts.wordpress.com/2007/06/20/i-need-50-buyers/)you are selling? Sorry if I seem jaded, but your entire business (http://www.entrepreneurthearts.com/index.html)seems dedicated to making money off of artist's insecurities. You offer books for them to buy, workshops and speaking engagements which they may attend (for a fee), "Creative Career Development Services" for which they may engage you (for a fee). I don't begrudge you your business, but it would be disingenuous to suggest that you do not have a financial stake in the topic which you have suggested.

tjwriter
08-03-2007, 05:07 AM
Wow

:eek:

:Wha:

:gone:

mscelina
08-03-2007, 07:35 AM
hmm....interesting thread. Very interesting.

As a professional artist who has been involved in multiple artistic genres (Equity and SAG actor, director, technical designer, musician, and now author--I don't count the married to an 'artiste painter' phaze--I outgrew it) I have to say that anyone who has been involved in the arts professionally shouldn't have the provincial point of view I've seen displayed in this thread. In writing, as in acting for example, you have ONE SHOT to impress the person who controls your immediate financial future. As an actor--perform your monologue--nail it--make the casting director believe it. Then cold read--take that script COLD and make it your own. Breathe life into the character--make it walk across the stage and force the audience to completely buy into what you have created and make them want more.
Make them care.

In writing, much the same way. Write a great query letter--NAIL it--make the agent/editor believe in the story you're proposing. Then the manuscript--make it technically perfect, make it sing to the reader so that they are transported into the world or the mind you have created and make them want more. Make them care.

See, in the arts, it's all about taking your creation and making her people care about it enough to give you a chance. It doesn't matter if you play the souzaphone or sculpt in metal. Inspire the audience, seduce the audience, draw in the audience and you will find your way.

Every agent query is an audition. If you screw up an audition on Broadway, they don't give you feedback (trust me.) They say "thank you!" and the stage manager shoos you off the stage. If you're almost right, but not quite, you might get a direction. "Try it with more anger." "Try it with more regret." "Try it without raising your voice." Then, and only then, do you have a chance to rectify your mistake. Those auditions are rare. Very rare. For the most part, you have 10-30 seconds to make your impression and it had better damn well be a good one.

Agents look for work they represent--work that will benefit from the connections they have in the publishing industry and the areas of expertise they possess. I noticed somewhere in this behemoth thread that one of the agents who hadn't responded to your query represented "almost your genre."


She represents a specific kind of audience based on the books she sells, very close but not exactly my core market, which makes feedback worth a lot. This agent's feedback essentially could possibly increase the size of my market.

If it's "almost" it probably isn't close enough. As a writer who is only querying agents at this point, it may be a bit premature to worry about increasing the size of your market. That shouldn't be your focus. If you want to concern yourself with sales, worry more about selling the manuscript before you entertain thoughts of selling to a wider swath of humanity.

You see, what gets me is the sense of entitlement. I had enough of that as a director to last me a lifetime. An actor (or writer) who feels entitled to praise from someone who is judging their work is unlikely to gain that person's good opinion. They don't have to say a darn thing other than NO, and nine times of ten they don't have to say that.

Agents don't have to give feedback. That's not their job. They owe nothing to a writer they don't represent. If you, the author, did not snag their interest with your query or first three chapters or full manuscript that should be all the feedback you need. For that agent YOUR WORK WAS NOT RIGHT. I can't even begin to tell you how many times I dismissed an actor at an audition only to be met with "What's your problem? I was good!" Maybe you were; maybe you weren't. The fact of the matter was that you weren't right for MY SHOW. MY SHOW. Not YOUR show. MY SHOW. I made the decisions. I was the one who had to work with the cast. I was the one who had a specific need to fill. If an actor didn't fit it, it wasn't MY fault at all. I was not required to meet an actor's specific agenda. And, in the end, Shakespeare was invariably correct.

The lady doth protest too much, methinks. -- Hamlet III, ii

Anthony Ravenscroft
08-03-2007, 08:40 AM
Thank you all for your responses to the "call to action" that curiously lacked for any hints as to action.

So, here's some.

Join a union or guild. Or two or three. Be active.

Start a credible publishing company.

Take a job in a legit house.

Become an accredited agent.

Problem is, they all require work & effort, possibly a few thousand bucks, & likely years of work.

The system sucks? Yuh; always has. And water's wet.

Play the game, or don't. Other than that, try the previous stuff.

mscelina
08-03-2007, 09:37 AM
*hands Anthony a martini*

Succinct, to the point, and honest. I give the last post two thumbs up.

aruna
08-03-2007, 09:49 AM
Do you make your living as a writer? If so then you have already figured out how to get outside the box and are doing it. Good for you. If you don't then don't make fun of me until you can. I make all my money using my creative talent every day... Nowhere is a pretty nice town by the way and a few people make some real money there.

I'm a bit late to the party you all had last night but I wanted to say this:

Almost ten years ago I wrote a book that both agents and publishers wanted. I was a complete newbie in the writing world; I had no business sense and no idea how publishing works. But I had written a book that agents and publishers thought readers would love.

That was all it took.

I made a good living from that book and its follow ups. Among other things, I made a down-payment on a nice home and I put my two kids through expensive private schools, which was my goal in the first place. I also donated a five-figure amount to a charity in India, money that went into a hospital for disabled children where my son is right now doing some volunteer work (YAY!!!)

After a few years things went wrong, due in part to mistakes I made myself. Three books cannot keep a writer going indefinitely, unless you are a mega-bestseller. I have written a couple of new books but not yet found a publisher for them.

This is nobody's "fault" but my own. While those two books make the rounds I shall write another book, and one day I hope to get back into the game, enough to live from it for the rest of my life. I think it's possible; but it's up to me, (not agents!) and my ability to write a book that readers will love.

That is the ONLY thing I have to do. I think if I recapture the magic agents and publishers will be right there at my feet side. It's not their fault if it hasn't worked yet.





The truth is that publishers would be more than happy to buy thousands of stories from writers directly if: a) there weren't so many of them versus the number of books the distributors/wholesalers and bookstores are willing to buy; b) if more of them were closer to publishing-ready; and c) if more people in the world were interested in buying a book versus playing a video game, watching the latest sitcom or engaging in (gasp!) sports and relationships.



Exactly. And the only way to capture that market is write a truly fantastic book. That is my job, my responsibility. My goal.

I do not have a right to be published.

Cathy C
08-03-2007, 05:58 PM
:Clap: Bravo, mscelina. :Clap: Bravo, Anthony and :Clap: Bravo, aruna. You spoke what I was trying to say eloquently, logically and with passion. :)

mscelina
08-03-2007, 08:20 PM
*curtsies*

Thanks, Cathy. The whole entitlement thing really grinds my oats. Sorry but it HAD to be said.

DeadlyAccurate
08-03-2007, 08:44 PM
Finally finished this entire thread. Around page two, I started thinking the OP was trying for a full card of business buzzword bingo. By the last post she made pre-flounce, I was convinced she was trying to build platform.

Vague statements of "think outside the box" without specific ideas to back them up are worthless. I can spout buzzwords all day long, too. That's not communication; it's projectile vomiting with words.

RRK
08-03-2007, 09:56 PM
This is quite an interesting thread to read...

Like everyone else, I'm confused about what exactly the OP was seeking. It seems to me that the criticism changed from agents not providing feedback to authors not making enough money. These are two very different arguments in my mind.


My purpose in getting involved in AW is not really to tell you about what happens to me, but instead to try and understand why this segment of the arts community, like others I have seen, enjoy complaining about a lack of money earned but are so unwilling to embrace change.

I'm reminded of a scene from the now-deceased TV show Dark Angel. The Bad Guy We Love To Hate goes to an AA meeting, stands in front of the crowd, and says (something like), "You are all weak because you whine all the time. I come here to remind myself what I don't want to become." Which is, you know, maybe a semi-valid point--but why purposefully antagonize people by saying it?

The way I see it, authors are some of the biggest addicts there is. We're desperate for our next fix, in whatever form it takes: thinking of the perfect way to end a sentence; realizing that a character isn't who we thought they were going to be at all; or, dear lord, perhaps even acceptance by a magazine/agent/publisher. It's a hard life, whether we have a day job or not, and we live with the constant knowledge that we may fail--and, worse, we have the niggling doubt in the back of our minds that perhaps we should fail, because maybe, just maybe, the classic we've been writing for XX years isn't really a classic at all.

We know how the system works (or we're here at AW to find out), and we trust it because, as so many people on this thread have said, it's not a system designed by agents to hurt writers--it's a system created by publishers, agents, and writers, and driven solely by the power of readership.