publishing / writing

The Day Literary Agents Go Extinct…

…is the day I am in Big Trouble.

So there was an alarming post in Galley Cat yesterday—and I was happy to wake up this morning and see my agency’s response here on their blog.

I like this especially:

At the risk of sounding self-serving, every serious author needs an agent. Not just any agent, of course. You need a good agent. One who is an advocate, who is willing to fight for you and who is able to tell you when you’re being unreasonable and doing your career more harm than good. You need someone who’ll tell you they believe in you when you think you’re the biggest literary fraud since James Frey (who is actually a very good writer despite his questionable morals). You need someone who asks about your ailing grandmother and vets your contracts. You need someone who will look at your royalty statements and make sure that the publisher isn’t holding a 75% reserve for returns. You need someone who is willing to try to place foreign rights to a book that is so hopelessly American that no one outside of the 50 states would want to read it. You need someone who will do battle with your publishing team and make sure they still like you despite the fact that you aren’t always discreet about them in your Facebook posts. You need someone who’ll see you through the process from idea to publication to the inevitable disappointment when the publicity for your book is done with before you noticed it had started. And, you need an agent because in these trying times, we’re sometimes the only people who offer continuity and stability in what everyone hopes is a long career. [see here for the whole post]

Um—blushing furiously over mistakes I know I’ve made—yeah, I sure need mine.

As a writer who started out without an agent and sold that first book without one, which may make it seem like you don’t need an agent, all I’ll say is I’ve had it both ways and I know what I need to make a career out of this: a good agent. I’m hoping to keep mine for the whole of my career; he’s done so much more for me than just negotiating a contract—which he did amazingly, btw. Just add me in as one more writer grateful for the time, attention, expertise, support, honesty, and imagination my agent has given me so far.

I know how this reads, when you don’t have an agent. Yeah-yeah-yeah they’re helpful and they’re pretty awesome and you’re so happy and just rub my face in it why don’t you. I’ve been there, so how do you go about getting one in the first place? Here’s some query advice, not from me, from someone who knows what he’s talking about.

All this is pretty timely because literary agents are on my mind today. Not for me, for a friend. A talented writer I’ve known for years is sending out his queries today. I hope he finds the absolute best agent for him and his book. All my good publishing vibes are in his corner. C’mon, agents, snatch him up quick!

(More on Galley Cat today: Literary Agents React!)

2 thoughts on “The Day Literary Agents Go Extinct…

  1. Nova!

    I read that article and, even in my newbie mind, it seemed a bit short-sighted. If anything, the idea of having somebody invested (in many ways) with my writing is an advantage. Who wouldn’t want that? There are so many people who’ve read stuff I’ve written and said, “Oh, great! Don’t change a thing!” And I’m thinking, “Really? You either didn’t read it, or you’re lying to me….”

    Basically, I want my agent (Lord, is it sad how much I still enjoy saying that?) to be able to say: “This is great” as comfortably as he would say: “You can do better.”

    Not sure if that makes any sense…I needed a break from revising.


    • Happy to distract! (Um… I mean, don’t let me distract you. Keep revising.)

      Oh and I still like saying “my agent” — it’s been about seven months and the words still sound so nice. I wonder if I’ll get it out of my system after Year 1?

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