Everything you wanted to know about literary agents...

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Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

Drachen Jager

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Agents really only seem to care if it's an advance paying publisher, or if you DID publish a previous work and it sold really well. Otherwise, not even worth mentioning.
 

Panican

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

rainsmom

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

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

Miss Plum

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

Panican

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There are a limited number of potential publishers in a particular genre. If your friend submits to a number of them, that's cutting the number that an agent has open to him.

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

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

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

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

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

Terie

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There are a limited number of potential publishers in a particular genre. If your friend submits to a number of them, that's cutting the number that an agent has open to him.

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

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

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

Panican

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

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

Terie

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

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

rainsmom

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

Barbara R.

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

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

Tiarnan_Ceinders

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I actually blogged about impatience and the waiting game just now. I'll post a snippet here, because I think this is an important discussion:

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


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


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

Old Hack

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

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

Panican

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There's a second form of Premature Submission: it happens when a writer submits to agents and/or publishers without checking them out properly first.

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

Treesha

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Thanks for the info. I bookmarked many of the links.