View Full Version : Lesson 7: The Great Agent Search

March 23rd, 2007, 09:41 AM
This is the last lesson in our workshop, but I'll still be here until April 1 at the very least for questions (and I believe the workshop will stay up through April). So please, if you've been saving them up, hit me! Here is the final lesson:

Lesson 7: But What If I Don't WANT An Agent?

So you've read all this stuff, thought about it, talked about it and you've decided this is not the time for you to get an agent. Or you've tried to get one and you can't find the one that's right for you. What now?

Can I sell my book without an agent?
The short answer is yes. Of course you can sell without an agent. It has and does happen every day. But I won't lie to you. The current market is really tough. The 'midlist' is shrinking. Publishers are getting more and more concerned with the bottom line (like all businesses), they worry about taking risks on unknown entities (such as unpublished, untried authors). But if you present a good pitch and a good story to the right editor at the right moment, you can still get that magic 'call' and hear that magic 'yes'.

So How Do I Do That?
Use that toolbox again. Make sure you have a kickin' query letter and a strong synopsis. There are many houses that no longer accept unsolicited partials and full manuscripts, but most will still take a query letter or query and synopsis for review. If that is the case, those tools have to be as strong as your book. Take your time writing them, get advice and critique on them.

Another great way to burst into the line of an editor's vision without an agent is through local conferences. Many Romance Writers of America chapters host conferences (and for many, you don't have to be a member) and the National organization hosts a yearly National Conference. Nearly all these conferences include opportunities to take appointments with editors (and agents). If that editor asks for your MS after your pitch, you will have a leg up. To learn more about pitching you manuscript at an editor appointment, try this link:

http://www.susannac<WBR>arr.com/articles<WBR>/editor-agent.<WBR>htm (http://www.susannacarr.com/articles/editor-agent.htm)

Susanna Carr was the QUEEN of appointments and has some great tips!

Finally, you may want to think about entering writing contests, also hosted through many local RWA chapters. I never found them to be a very valuable tool, but if you get the hang of the system and final, your work will often be ranked by an editor. This can result in a request and another jump over the slush pile.

Educate Yourself
If you are going to attack the world of publishing on your own, though, make sure you're prepared. Do your research on publishing houses, editors and contracts. Keep up on who is buying what and from whom. There are a lot of great resources out there that can help. Here are a few:

1. The Passionate Pen http://www.passiona<WBR>tepen.com (http://www.passionatepen.com/)
2. Brenda Hiatt's "Show Me The Money" http://www.karenafo<WBR>x.com/money.<WBR>htm (http://www.karenafox.com/money.htm)
<WBR><WBR>3. Charlotte Dillon's Resources http://www.charlott<WBR>edillon.com (http://www.charlottedillon.com/)
4. Preditors and Editors http://www.anothere<WBR>alm.com/prededit<WBR>ors/ (http://www.anotherealm.com/prededitors/)
5. Lunch Weekly http://www.caderboo<WBR>ks.com/ (http://www.caderbooks.com/)
6. "How To Be Your Own Literary Agent" by Richard Curtis (a book)

Don't jump blind and realize you have no parachute. Treat the business like a business and you'll have much more success on your own or with an agent.

That's it! I hope you enjoyed the class and got some good information out of it. :) Please feel free to ask any questions about the information I covered... or if there was something you wanted to know and I didn't cover it, speak up! I'll do my best to answer!

March 24th, 2007, 09:53 PM
Thanks for the great workshop and all the work you put into it, Jenna. Just one question that you may have covered, but I may have missed. Can it be difficult for an author, especially an unpublished author, to be accepted by an agent? When I wasn't happy with my agent and went looking for another, I found it extremely difficult. I realize it could have been that particular manuscript I was working with, but it did seem like it was a tight road to nab a good agent.

March 25th, 2007, 12:55 PM
I won't lie. It's very hard to get an agent. Or, at least, a good agent. But then, what about this industry is easy? Not a lot. Anything worth having is something you have to fight for. :)

So, no, it might not be an easy task. But it's something to keep at. Keep trying and researching. And if you make a sale on your own, go back and talk to the agents you respect most and ask them to help you negotiate the contract.

Honestly, the most important tool I have (aside from the books I write) is my agent. She's more than worth her 15%.