This post from Nathan Bransford has some great stats based on a survey sent to a number of currently working agents. The numbers tell an interesting story but one that I think any writer considering traditional publishing needs to be aware of. Click the link here to head over and give it a read: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2017/05/agent-stats-on-personalization.html.
I came across this great post on Publishing and Other Forms of Insanity. I always like these kind of posts and interestingly enough I often come away with something I hadn’t thought of before. Go take a look: http://publishedtodeath.blogspot.com/2017/04/10-things-we-hate-about-agents-and-10.html
In the past, I’m talking before email, querying agents meant either typing up or printing 30 letters or using some kind of mail merge program to put in the names and addresses. There wasn’t much room to add in any personal remarks. Email has made that process much simpler and as a result many have taken to personalizing their query letter for the agent. Is it helpful? Will it make a difference? Who knows. For myself, I do usually begin my query with a sentence saying why I am sending the letter to that specific agent. But then again why go by what I do? Here is what some professionals in the field think about personalized query letters. In particular here is a blog post from Nathan Bransford replying to a post from Janet Reid, http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2016/11/in-defense-of-personalized-queries-and.html on that very subject.
I came across another excellent post from Janet Reid, http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/2016/04/please-tell-me-you-didnt-pay-money-for.html. I know these are intended to be cautionary tales but sometimes I find some of these humorous. At other times I get infuriated at the hole machine that has popped up to, “assist,” writers. You can waste a lot of money, money that would be better spent on editors, book formatting and cover designers. Just always remember there are no sure things, no corners to cut, and a sucker is born every minute.
I always love visiting Janet Reid’s blog, especially when I’ve reached a point of frustration. It’s always good to know we aren’t alone in our suffering and her advice is some of the best. http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/2016/01/well-that-was-quick.html
This guest post from Ann R. Allen’s blog might give you some food for thought. Agent Laurie McLean from Fuse Entertainment explains why self-published may not need an agent. Or do they? Read the full post here: Why You Don’t Need a Literary Agent ,(But You Might Want One)
I foresee myself working with an agent at some point in the future. Let’s be honest, while independent authors have come a long way and I love what we are doing, the business of writing is still centered on what comes out of the Big 5 houses and that comes through agents and editors. Even many of the success stories of Amazon millionaires that you hear about are authors who originally came from the ranks of the traditionally published. Typically when I complete a manuscript I send out a dozen or so quires to see if there is any interest. Their response or lack of one won’t influence where I go from there but I consider it just one more of my writer’s chops to keep up on.
Independent publishing is not cheap either. A even an exemplary manuscript needs editing, typesetting, eBook formatting and a professional cover design. None of these are free. One take away from this piece was the use of Kickstarter.com to offset some of these costs. I know I’ll be doing some research on that avenue in the future. Let me know what your thoughts are in the comments and we’ll see if we have a consensus on to agent or not to agent.
PS. Congrats to Anne for her blog’s inclusion among Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers.
I enjoyed reading this post from Janet Reid and thought I would share. Just remember it is a query letter. If it costs more than a stamp to send you have it wrong.
I came across this piece by Michael Bourne, “A Right Fit”: Navigating the World of Literary Agents,” in my RSS feed from Nathan Bransford’s Blog. You may have read similar pieces that looked at the world literary agents operate in, but this one is a little different. This one comes from a man who was on the outside and worked his way in, but still has to write that one book that an agent can sell. I liked the comment of the feedback writers typically receive from family and friends versus what one might receive from a total stranger. Not just any stranger but one who looks on your work as a product he or she might have to sell. But why read my synopsis? Head over to the link for the full piece here.
“In my day all writers had agents, it’s how it was done and we liked it.”
“Thank you angry old man on the porch, but this is a new day and a new way.” I used to spend my time writing a story and then pouring through the Writer’s Market for journals to send it to. I never did get very far, though I did place a couple stories in some small labor of loves. As I moved up to novels I followed the same pattern. Working to finish one and then spending months working over a query letter and synopsis. Then onto the Guide to Literary Agents book. Eventually, I realized something. All the time I was spending looking up agents and mailing out 30 to 40 letters and receiving back only half, (mostly thanks but no), was time I could have spent working on my next novel.
E-Books to the rescue. Well, not quite. There always has been an option to self publish, it used to cost much more and there weren’t many channels for distribution. Fortunately that has changed. Since appearing on the scene, (web),Create Space, Lulu.com, Kindle Direct Publishing and B&N Pub It have given everything that a self publishing author needs; the means to publish and a place to sell your work.
The thrill for me is writing. No, I am not some frustrated artist spiting himself to make a point. I enjoy creating stories and giving life to interesting characters. It would be nice to make buckets of money doing it but that is not the reason I do it. If I can get my works out where friends and family can see them, be impressed and hopefully buy them I am happy. I know my sales will never rival the Pattersons and Meyers out there but they don’t need to to satisfy my ego. Once I realized that, I realized I no longer needed an agent and you know what? It is a nice burden to have lifted from my shoulders.
I opened my email today and found the latest reply to my query letter for Undead Heart. It was a sorry not for us. I looked up the next agency on my list and sent a revised letter. I think each one of these brings me closer to snagging an agent. I do get tired of reading the same stale text, “sorry, not for me.” That has to be better than, “this really sucks, don’t quit your day job.” Not by much though. The only consolation is that this is all a part of the process. You can’t get there from here, right? The good thing is sending out a new query is always exciting.