OK, I may be painting a target on my ass, but here goes...

Every agent's blog or website or article that I come across seems to be geared toward knocking the wind out of a writer's sails. I find myself thinking dark thoughts about agents, and am interested in hearing peoples' experiences with them.


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If your goal is to be published with a major publisher, you need an agent - not just because agents are gatekeepers, though they do serve that function, but because publishing at that level is so complex. The author needs someone looking out for their interests when it comes to contracts, foreign rights sales, negotiating the advance, and a myriad of other details.

If you're aiming for a smaller publisher or a university press, you can do just fine without an agent (though having an entertainment lawyer look over the contract is always a good idea).
Wow, thanks. I really have heard that vaguely before, but its a good reminder.
You would need that packaged with at least one or two other stories. Who's that guy...there's a precedent...I mean you could pack that with one to three other stories and get a solid book. Call back and ask if they do any collections or anthologies that...Harlan Ellison is that guy's name...that you could get your story into, or if they would like you to write anything specific...etc...Keep on keepin' on however it goes.

Don't worry about attitude...LOL, I'm starting to relax enough to tell me how many of the chips have been knocked off my shoulders over the first 20 years as a grown woman.
Today I was told by an older woman that the purpose of agents is to make it so that editors do not have to deal with the author's emotional connection to their own novels etc.. That makes it easier for the editors to insist on market specific changes....Its almost like using a nanny...You know...so while you're busy the kids are just sort "taken care of" but of course they're still your kids...Oh, it was Jacqueline Lichtenberg not someone I met on the street who had no idea what he or she might be talking about.
Way to get us started!
Consider this: there are millions of writers and less than 10,000 agents. Mostly, they are overwhelmed. Even if you have excellent material, if they are over-worked, they won't even attempt to read your material. Usually, you'll get a form letter or a postcard, if anything, stating that they cannot take you at this time.

My wife and I tried for three years with no luck. Many readers, editors and scholarly teachers of literature have read my wife's excellent work and loved it. But agents would look at it, except for one: she loved it but she was over-booked.

It is the hardest work of the business. Writing the book was a breeze compared with looking for an agent, then a good self-publishing company.

We're not concerned about using a self-publishing company. Ben Franklin, Thomas Payne, Edgar Allen Poe, John Grisham and Dan Brown, amongst many others, started their careers by self-publishing. Once they established their successful marketing, the big name publishers scrambled to acquire them.

Hang in there!
Nice comment. The other feature is the idea of "making luck". I suffer from bizarre pangs of guilt when I see that half the trouble is that I didn't marry a more experienced author or professional editor or make sure my beaux/husband would double as something like my literary agent. There is more to success.

At the same time, it is true that some people just write and submit their stuff and they get lucky at the other end: an editor realizes it is good and they pick it up.

I think we should take care not to be cynical nor would I say that success at any price is ok since if you were to kill off the opposition that would be effective but terribly immoral.
At the private writers discussion group I oversee, I recently took an informal poll asking members how they found their agent. Of those who responded,

5 got their agent through a referral
5 got their agent by meeting them at a conference
5 got their agent via "other" means, and
40 got their agent via a cold query.

I'm not talking marginal agents, either, these are legitimate, successful agents who make their living by regularly selling books to major publishers. The idea that in publishing it's who you know that makes a difference is a fallacy. It might get your work looked at sooner, but that's the only advantage - your writing and your story still have to measure up.
"You're talking here of only the writers who've secured the services of good agents,"

Well, sure. The title of this thread is, after all, "Agents." Just sharing what I know!
Presently I do not have a husband. He is married to someone else instead. I still need him but the two of made mistakes and had attitudes that caused things to come to this. I am offended that I have not having a better time as a single woman but mainly I blame myself.

It is too easy to lose perspective while in a relationship. I think that really has something to do with it. I have felt neglected ever since I was either married or had a very helpful boyfriend. It isn't exactly addictive, but its a strongly preferable lifestyle. It has been nice to have space but I have too much space instead of nowhere nearly enough space....and the cost of the lack of daily help and companionship and cuddles and "the nookie" is...it is a terribly high price to pay.

I'm not sure why I shared that here....If you are writing a novel please view it as high quality true information that you can use for building true-to-life situations in your fiction.
That doesn't surprize me. Sorry if I'm acting like I'm in the bar when I'm not. Here I have a real question for you folks.

Describe the main differences between crime fiction and an action adventure story.
Geez, Dan, make up your mind: either there is a plethora of writing geniuses out there suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or they're all idiots who can't edit their own books. I'm getting schizophrenic over here with the jumps from one to the other.


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