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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Stop and Smell the Roses Blog Bouquet

Welcome to TWRP's fist "Stop and Smell the Roses Blog Bouquet"--several of my fellow TWRP authors will be posting blogs today. The list of those participating can be found at the end of this blog. All who leave a comment today will be put into a drawing to win an e-copy of my TWRP release "The Model Man." Check back tomorrow to find out the winner's name!

Happy blogging fellow roses!

Onto today's blog topic...

To agent or not to agent? That is a question I’ve pondered many times in recent years. I’ve heard of so many people who have gotten burned, so many people who had their hopes raised only to see nothing happen to move their careers forward. That, added to the 15 or 20 percent that comes right off the top, and my take on the subject was pretty much “who needs ‘em?”

Well despite what my kids would tell you, I’m not totally inflexible. *G* I attended a workshop recently entitled “Do You Need an Agent?” I went in a solid “no way” and came out a “maybe I do!”

The agent who spoke to our group was approachable, informative and professional—not the “Danny DeVito in a brown polyester suit” I’d pictured in my mind, LOL. I really enjoyed listening to the responses she gave to the many, many questions our group asked her, and since we’re a widely varied group of writers, the questions all covered different areas of writing.

She started off by mentioning the Association of Author Representatives. A quote from the homepage: The AAR's objectives include keeping agents informed about conditions in publishing, the theater, the motion picture and television industries, and related fields; encouraging cooperation among literary organizations; and assisting agents in representing their author-clients' interests.
To qualify for membership in the AAR, an agent must meet professional standards specified in the organization's bylaws and agree to subscribe to its Canon of Ethics.

That definitely sounds like a good place to start when looking for an agent. The website also contains lists of questions you would want to ask before signing with an agent. Some of them were real eye openers. Click here to read the full list.

She also went on to say that as the publishing industry gets busier and busier, there are few NY publishers left these days who take unagented submissions. Unless you’re lucky enough to get a foot in the door with a contest entry, your work may never make it to the desk of your dream editor without an agent’s help. Having an agent, after all, tells an editor that your work is “worthy” of her time and attention.

The main focus of an agent is a sales person –it’s her job to sell your work. It’s her goal to see you published and published well. An editor’s primary responsibility is to her publisher; an agent’s serves only you.
Many agents will also offer editorial suggestions, but some don’t. It’s a good idea to ask if there are fees involved for those who do.

The agent’s role is to serve as a buffer between author and editor. While an author who has been working with a certain editor for a while may not feel comfortable asking for a bigger advance or larger percentage of the royalties—an agent won’t. The author may not even know if she’s entitled to more, again, it’s an agent’s job negotiate better advances, royalty rates, etc.
An agent will also take care of the business end of things—chasing down contracts and royalty payments.

So it sounds as though an agent’s role is to take care of the business end of things—those areas we writers all hate—so that we can focus on the creative end of things. I’d say that’s worth the 15-20% fee.

Some helpful tips from the agent I spoke to:

*Make sure the agent you query represents what you write.

* Don’t take it to heart if an agent passes on your work. This is a subjective business—an agent’s opinion is just that—her opinion.

*Persevere. Never give up.

*Don’t write to market trends. By the time you finish the story and it gets published, the trend will be passed.

*Write what you know and love. No matter what you write, if it’s wonderful, someone is going to buy it.

A lot to think about, but I definitely came away a believer! Don’t forget to stop by my fellow Stop and Smell the Roses blog bouquet authors’ blogs today. And don't forget to leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of The Model Man!

Here’s the list of those participating in today’s bouquet:


Sarah Simas said...

Hi Nicole!

Thank you shedding some light on a very hot topic. You definitely answered some of the questions I had been harboring about whether or not to query an agent.

How fun to attend such a great workshop. Thanks for sharing!

Nicole McCaffrey said...

Hi Sarah!

Thanks for stopping by and checking it out!

Skhye said...

Mornin', Nicole. Love that cat picture. My two 3-month old cats sound like a herd of elephants running through the house right now. I doubt they'll stop and smell the roses. LOL. Have a good one!

Unknown said...

Mornin! Thanks for the post today, it was very informative. I love to read about stuff like that in hopes that one day I myself might be an author. I have finally figured out how to take everyones opinion into consideration instead of taking the hard road toward my dreams.


Donna Michaels said...

Morning Nicole,

Super informative post. I've heard the 'yay' and 'nay' stories of having an agent, too.

Thanks for the links. I'm going to check into it.

Have a great day,,


Mona Risk said...

Great post, Nicole. I never thought I would need an agent but... BTW I love the book cover of Model Man. I am glad I'm working my way down these blogs, smelling the roses and meeting authors and their books. My sweet and spicy medical romance, BABIES IN THE BARGAIN,a sort of Grey's Anatomy, is coming in two weeks to TWRP.

Isabel Roman said...

Nic! You live! I love it. Great blog, Dean Wesley Smith recently posted about Life After Agents. Just another view, that's all. I enjoyed reading both your blog and his on this.

I already have a copy of The Model Man. :) It was a WONDERFUL read!

Ann Whitaker said...

Congratualations on your release of MODEL MAN. I liked the advice from agents. It reminded me of why I write about dogs and Texas. Two things I know and love.

Helen Hardt said...

Great information! The irony is, it's sometimes harder to find an agent than a publisher.

I already have a copy of The Model Man on my keeper shelf, so you don't need to enter me in the drawing ;).

Erotic Horizon said...

Lots of good info to know...

Loving the kitty....


Nicole McCaffrey said...

Wow, this is fun--thanks everyone for stopping by today! So glad I took the time to "stop and smell the roses"!

Lauri said...

GREAT post, Nic! THANKS! I was one of those who really got burnt by an agent in my 'early' years. Thanks for sharing this info!

AND how did you come up with that cat picture? It's priceless!

Tanya Hanson said...

Hi Nicole, great info. And I love that silhouette!


Susan Macatee said...

Hi, Nicole!

I've already got my copy of the Model Man, so you can leave me out of the drawing, but I just wanted to say Hi.

Great post and something to think about.

Paty Jager said...

Good luck on the agent hunt!

Cate Masters said...

Hi Nicole, love your pic! Very Roses-appropriate.
I tried years ago, before epresses came into play, to "land" an agent and sat through a few horrific 5-minute pitch sessions. I promised myself never again! And have made out fairly well on my own. For now, an agent would be more of a complication than a bonus!

Debra St. John said...

I waver on the whole agent thing, too. Right now I don't have one, but every once in a while I think, should I? Thanks for the tips, too!

KyAnn said...

What is it about the silhouette of cowboy that is so hot!?

okay, what was I thinking..oh yes,
I've had both good and bad experiences with agents. Right now I'm flying solo for the most part, but I do think a good agent is worth every cent they take.

Linda Banche said...

Hi Nicole. Good information.

I'd like to have an agent. I'm sure she could get me a better contract that I could get myself. So far, I pitched my magnum opus to an agent at the local RWA conference. She asked for the partial, but passed on it. Oh, well, try, try again.

I love your cat picture!

Babyblue22 said...

Hey Nicole!
I'm just stopping by to smell the roses, Just like the kitty at the top of the post.
Great post! I think it's great of you to pass on the info you have on agents to other authors.
I also love the cover of The Model Man!!


I don't need an agent but I learn something today.

SiNn said...

Hi Nichole i agree withw hat everyone else is syaing i havent finshed what i been working on but knowing different things helps in the long run so ty for that

Jennette Green said...

Excellent article! Thanks for posting. :)

L M Gonzalez said...

Thanks for the info on agents. Very interesting.


Kytaira said...

Very informative post. I'm not an author and would never try and push my terrible writing anyone else! I do love learning about the publishing process though.

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