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zeprosnepsid
03-02-2005, 02:04 PM
Would anyone mind sharing how they got their first agent, their first deal? Did it happen to anyone rather quickly. I've had a few bites on my query letter to send in proposals and am letting myself hope that I might get picked up right away. Does it really happen?

But whether it happened to you fast or not, a lot of people around here have seemingly published non-fiction work and I'd love to hear how long it took and what kind of process you went through. How long did it take you to write after you got a deal and all that.

Thanks in advance.

Tish Davidson
03-02-2005, 09:22 PM
Did it the traditional way - wrote a book proposal and several chapters. then sent a query letter to agents. First agent called within 2 days of getting the query and asked for the proposal, then asked to represent the book.

triceretops
03-03-2005, 03:31 AM
Good on you, Tish!

I wrote my first non-fiction book back in 1988 on a dare. Someone said you have the most massive garage sales I've ever seen, you ought to write a book on it. How silly, I thought. But once I looked into it, no one had ever covered:liquidations, swap meets, indoor swap meets, auctions, tag sales, yard sales, moving sales and everything else. Only articles on it. So I put together a big outline with a book that would cover setting up a huge sale, and also from the buyer's perspective. I sent it in to Betterway Pubs in Virginia, telling them I wrote the thing on a dare and there was no such book on the market.

They wrote back and said, "You're right, we'll take it!" Along with it came a
check for $1500.00. It took me two months to knock the rest of the book out. It made about 5 or 6 thousand over 1 1/2 years.

This is easy, I thought. So I wrote a book about Auto Repair Shams and Scams. The second publisher I sent it to, bam! They took it. Same or better results.

I just started writing again after 15 years. What am I writing? Another non-fiction book, of course! Non-fiction books are the easiest to sell directly to a publisher. They outsell fiction 3-1.

When I finally got an agent I went hells bells writing novels, and wrote 14 total in three years. Only four were deemed great by my agent but none of them ever sold. One was nearly optioned by Universal Studios for $50,000 but Michael C. and Spielberg beat my *** out with Jurassic Park.

What have agents done for me? Not one frackin' thing. I'll continue to bust down non-fiction doors by myself, until an agent realizes that I AM worth the trouble.

Triceratops

zeprosnepsid
03-03-2005, 06:02 AM
Sounds like it happened fast for you Tish. I keep wondering, because I'm pretty new to the game, if it can actually happen fast.

and interesting thoughts triceretops. I haven't heard a lot of anti-agent types and it gives me something to think about for sure.

Tish Davidson
03-03-2005, 07:03 AM
Someone gave me some note cards with quotes on them about writing. My favorite is by Fay Weldon "Nothing happens and nothing happens and then everything happens." It did happen fast for me, but I had years of experience as a newspaper feature writer and also writing chapters in nursing textbooks and other medical writing so fast is relative.

underthecity
03-03-2005, 08:39 PM
Seems like whenever there's a nonfiction thread, there will invariably be posts by both triceratops and me. Here's mine.

Zepro, since I have been asked questions like yours before, I wrote up a whole FAQ about how my books, The Cincinnati Subway and Cincinnati on the Go came to be. Please see my faq (http://www.allensedge.com/allenfaq.html).

To answer your question in a nutshell:

I've been writing my whole life, and had been researching the business side of writing since the early 1990s. I got interested in the subject of the failed subway in Cincinnati in 1998, and when I looked for information on the subject, I couldn't find anything (nothing on the web about it at that point). Since I had always wanted to write a full-length book, I decided to write a complete history on the subject, try to attack it from every angle. And so I did.

Halfway into the project I started querying publishers: some university presses, some small nonfiction publishers. None were interested. I finished the book in 1998/1999 and put it aside when we bought our house in 2000. (Many other things were happening in my married life at the same time as this, btw.). In 2002 I found the publisher, as explained in the faq.

To answer one of your questions, when I DID locate the "right" publisher, I had my answer in less than a month that they were interested in publishing the subway book.

After signing the contract, with the editor's help, I had to reduce the amount of text in the book and revise and rewrite a lot of it. The end result was a much tighter, much better manuscript. I'm rather glad the original version of the manuscript didn't get published. Some text went to the captions (over 200 images in the book) and some got cut out entirely. Having the right publisher made it into a better book. You can "search inside" the book on amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0738523143) for examples of how it came out.

I did not have an agent, and still don't, but I may try to seek one when I pursue other projects in the future--projects out of the scope of my present publisher.

I'm currently working on my third book for the publisher. It's true what they say, that when you get published the first time, the publisher wants you to write more for them since now you are a "commodity" who has proven to deliver a salable product.

I could go on and on. I should get back to work writing my book (oh, and I should also get back to working at my full-time job, too!)

PS, I have been very happy with my publisher, and other authors who have produced books for the publisher are happy with them too. I hasten to point out that it's not like Publish America's "10,000 happy authors." This publisher doesn't offer an advance (although I think they should), but the royalties have been very nice. Maybe not at the same level of James MacDonald, Victoria Strauss or AC Crispin, but for a first timer with a regional history book, I believe I've done pretty well.

underthecity

Lauri B
03-03-2005, 08:56 PM
I'm currently working on my third book for the publisher. It's true what they say, that when you get published the first time, the publisher wants you to write more for them since now you are a "commodity" who has proven to deliver a salable product.


Hi all,
What Under the city says is certainly the way we view our authors. I would much rather work with someone I've already had a good working experience with and know will come through when it matters. I also know the writer's style, his or her preferences for communication, how he/she works, etc.

As far as success stories go, I was lucky-I was asked to write a couple of books for publishers and once you have a couple of books under your belt, it's a lot easier to get noticed.

muscort
03-04-2005, 11:32 AM
One was nearly optioned by Universal Studios for $50,000 but Michael C. and Spielberg beat my *** out with Jurassic Park.

Hey,Tri. Was your dino-story similar to the premise of Jurassic Park?

triceretops
03-04-2005, 02:53 PM
Muscort

I didn't see the similarity at all. But my agent smelled trouble. Mine was Dinothon, about Robotic (piloted) dinosaurs who fight it out in a dry lake bed for 48 hours straight, until the last machine is standing. The prize is 1 billion and the years is 2055--its a world wide event, kinda gone nuts with a Blade Runner atmoshpere and a Running Man game concept. John Badham (director) and the Cohen brothers (producers) have also been robot crazy (Short Circuit), and when they saw that I'd combined dinos and robots they loved it. That was until JP came on the scene two weeks later. They passed because they said that Michael Crihton (sp) and Speilberg were too big to compete with and my agent ruefully agreed.

Such is life

Tri

zeprosnepsid
03-04-2005, 02:54 PM
i have a friend who writes great high concept but scripts are always beating him out. he gets so angry the poor thing!

muscort
03-04-2005, 05:32 PM
Well, since your concept seemed totally different and all your own, did you ever consider resubmitting? I haven't seen any other dinosaur type movies except for the Jurassic Park series. Maybe your concept would be better received now.

triceretops
03-05-2005, 12:36 AM
Muscort,

Resubmitted through my agent but (shockingly) she never got it picked up, and one year later lost it and 11 other computer/hardcopy novels and assorted non-fiction books, and dozens of short stories in a house fire. Lost six years of work--insurance didn't cover non-comodity items. Quit writing altogether, and just now three months ago, came back to try and burst out again. 15 years ago I did make a substantial splash, thank God for that. Now with this new internet thing and a billion writers out there I'm going "Well, nothing like starting over from scratch again, eh?"

The story of Dinothon is the begining pages of "Ask the Agent" if you want to see what went down. It is the cruelest and most bizarre story of a writer who almost made the big time then fell into obscurity. My story. Incompetance, on the part of my agent caused 90% of this calamity. I'll take 10% blame.

Tri

Medievalist
03-05-2005, 12:45 AM
Resubmitted through my agent but (shockingly) she never got it picked up, and one year later lost it and 11 other computer/hardcopy novels and assorted non-fiction books, and dozens of short stories in a house fire. Lost six years of work--insurance didn't cover non-comodity items.
Tri

Tri, I am so sorry for you; that must have been devastating. And what I'm about to say isn't meant to be specifically directed to you; rather, it's to other writers who have the luxury of using computers, which at the time, you probably didn't.

If it's important, having a local copy on a cd/floppy/external media as a back up to the version on your computer isn't enough.

You need redundant backups.

That means, for a book, at least one hardcopy printout, preferably not at your house.

Multiple digital copies, at least one of which is not even in your state. Make a compilation and send it to mom/dad/brother/sister/best friend and ask them to store it safely, just in case.

Think about using Google's free email accounts, with 1 gig storage, as an alternate backup for your backups. You can .zip a file and email it to yourself. It's stored on Google's servers and they back them up.

If you're storing a file for long term use, save two versions of it; one in html or .rtf, and one in your word processor of choice. Label the disk with the version /name of your word processor.

muscort
03-05-2005, 08:43 AM
I totally understand what you went through, Tri. I went through something similar when I was 18, before I had a chance to make my mark on the world. Now, I'm 31 and have organized my thoughts. I put the last 13 years to good use writing down story ideas. I originally wanted to start my own t-shirt business with my own catchy slogans and humorous pics.(I can't draw. If I could draw, I'd be a millionaire by now.) I recently made a website to teach billiards because that is a hobby of mine that I realized I know how to teach well. I am planning on making a DVD on this and sell it, it's just that it takes some money to get started, which I don't have. I originally wanted to be a writer later on in life after I'd made my fortune. Now I realize it's much cheaper to write. My end goal in life is to be an inventor. That is where I would feel the most comfortable.

Medievalist-That is some great advice. I have been printing copies of my stories every few weeks. You gave me some more things to consider.
Thanks, Erik

Ramsey
03-17-2005, 12:12 AM
Where is "Ask the Agent" ?

Ramsey

triceretops
03-17-2005, 02:55 AM
Ramsey--Ask the Agent in under the Studio "The Book World."tri