I need some advice on this. I'm currently finishing up my first full-length manuscript. I think i have a good shot at getting published, and even if i dont, i can afford to keep writing on a part-time/full-time basis. Instead of killing myself with doing my own agent work, i was thinking of just biting the bullet and hiring one to get to work trying to get me published. What do you think? Advice would be appreciated, or if anyone could recommend a good agent in this area, that'd be wonderful too. Thanks.
October 31st, 2005, 09:07 AM
Okay, first of all, Mike, you can't just go out and hire an agent. They have to decide that they want to come work for you, and since thousands of hopeful authors would like them to represent their work, and since they can only represent a good hundred or so, they're pretty picky. So let's take the issues one by one.
1) Affording to write: Very few people can afford to write full time. For that matter, very few people can afford to take part-time work so that they can write part of the time. Most people write during their "free" time -- nights, weekends, vacations, after their full time job. Many published sff authors still have day jobs, because their publications aren't bringing in that much money. So if you think that getting your book published is going to magically change things, think again. (All you writers in college -- this is your golden time, make the most of it.)
2) SFF is a field that was open and is still partially open to unagented writers. So yes, you can go and be your own agent, but the less you know about what you are doing, the more publishers will take advantage of it. Given that it's hard to get an agent, though, submitting to publishers makes sense as a course of action for many writers. So you don't have to rule it out. But you do probably need to read up on the publishing industry so you understand how it works.
3) If you seek to get an agent, you submit your work to that agent in a similar manner to how you do so to publishers. You'll need to compile a list of agents, find out if they want query letters or query submissions, and contact them according to their guidelines. You can also go to sff conventions where agents do attend and may be willing to listen to you for a few minutes and have you send material. If they like the material, they'll ask to see more of the ms. If they like that, they'll offer to represent you in return for a percentage of your earnings, usually 15%, more for foreign sales.
4) The number of agents who represent sff out of the total number of literary agents is quite small, so it can be difficult. In Canada, there are no sff publishers, and the industry is much smaller than it is in the U.S., but the major publishers do put out sff fiction for the genre market, so there should be a few agents who rep sff. Horror has a slightly wider pool, since it's considered more mainstream. You can also seek out a U.S. agent for U.S. sales.
There have been a number of threads about literary agents in this Forum. Do a search and you'll be able to get some more information.
October 31st, 2005, 08:09 PM
I'm an agent...;)
(Sorry couldn't resist. But good advice there, from KatG)
November 2nd, 2005, 10:46 PM
First off, thanks so much for your help. I appreciate the time you took to give me advice.
I didn't mean to sound like i was going to just go out and "hire" an agent, i'm just confident in my work, lol. I dont think i will be turned away at the agent level. I'm more concerned with finding somebody who knows what they are doing.
I'm only 20 years old, so i actually CAN afford to write full time, lol. I owned and operated a landscaping company this summer so i'm doing fine. Additionally, I am a firm believer in structured writing 8 hours a day every day. At the rate i have been going lately i dont think it will be an issue to pump out 4 solid novels a year. Its my dream, and i am fully prepared to beggar myself to get it.
I guess what i'm looking for is how to even go about finding an agent. Should I search the net? Papers? Are there books of this sort of thing? Let me know.
I just dont wanna get caught by an evil agent (unless your a cute brunette woman who digs younger men :D ).
This link and the whole site is worth reading if you're really serious. Also get the recent copy of the Writer' and Artists' Yearbook.
November 3rd, 2005, 12:16 PM
Well I am a cute brunette who likes younger men, but I'm married. :)
The Prededitors & Editors thing, which SFFWA started ways back, is a good resource. Ralan.com, which gives you nice info on the magazine market, also has some agent material. The Association of Authors Representatives (AAR,) in the U.S., has agent members who agree to ethical guidelines of business, so hit their site and they have lists with what the agents rep. There are also hundreds of sites on the web that compile lists of agents. Check Prededitors & Editors to make sure those you find are not scam artists.
If you live in or near a major U.S. city, hit the reference section of the public library looking for a directory called the Literary Marketplace (LMP.) It may at this point be on CD-Rom. It's a giant directory of book publishing and includes agent listings and what they handle. The agents listed there are legitimate ones. Likewise, if your public or college library carries Publishers Weekly (the industry magazine,) then check out issues for mentions of agents. Locus and some other sff genre news magazines also offer info about agents and deals, and you can subscribe to those in print or on-line.
The Acknowledgement pages of sff novels often refer to agents. While such agents may have a closed stable and be taking no new clients, younger agents in their firms may still be interested, so worth checking out.
SFF conventions that you can get to and afford, the larger ones, usually have at least a few agents running around. They may or may not be keeping an eye out for new talent, but if they attend the convention, they're fair game. Check what the policies of the convention are with regards to approaching and pitching to agents. Even if you can't pitch to them, if you can speak to them for thirty seconds after a panel, you can then send them a query letter later, stating that you met them at the convention, and you have a good shot at getting read if they don't have a closed stable. The same goes for writers conferences, though it's harder to find agents who handle sff at those. But with fantasy so popular and sf and horror getting a lot of movie attention, that may be changing a bit. Comic cons are not something to rule out as agents do hang out at some of the bigger ones of those.
Check out the Writers Resources thread here for possible information. If you're interested in a particular agent, google the agent, see if he has a website, and also ask here in the boards if anybody knows anything about the agent or agency. Chances are, someone does.
Check out interviews on the web with editors at major and lesser houses. Sometimes, they may mention agents they work with, and in any case, it teaches you about the business, though quite often what editors say for print is not accurate. But agent info should be fine.
I'm less knowledgable about British, Canadian and Australian markets, but they should have similar resources to the U.S. Compiling a list of workable agents is relatively easy -- it's the rest of it that's hard. :)
November 3rd, 2005, 09:10 PM
Thank you guys so much, i have a ton of stuff going on right now and you helped me out alot!