Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Why one literary agent quit; an illuminating look at the world of "agenting" (and this does affect authors)

IWritely explains why she quit agenting (working “for” a literary agency).

She describes the process from the viewpoint of the author seeking (trade) publication:  the query, the call, the submission.  If the book is accepted, then there are various editing steps.

Publication of a book with conventional corporate entities takes months to years, which can make the book less timely if it is setting or recent-history dependent.  If your novel has a fictitious virus (mind does), the real one might duplicate what you imagined (on, you were smart and cunning enough to think of it) before you can get the book out.

But what was really interesting his how agents work.  Typically a literary starts as an unpaid intern (reading queries) and has to have a regular job “for the privilege of becoming an agent”.  That observation will shock many authors.  Then you have to compare all that to how the self-publishing and POD world works.

It’s interesting that she says authors are expected to promote their books before publication, by networking and trading blurbs and accolades with other authors.  That may account for sudden tweets and “requests” from other authors to back them up, in social media, which may seem rude or pushy if you weren’t aware of the practice.  This practice (in social media) is also common among independent filmmakers.

She also explained how authors get paid (advances and royalties), and how agents are paid on commission. Authors’ Guild allows membership only to authors who get advances to earn a living (or at least it used to). I had my own experience with a literary agency in NYC (Mark Sullivan) around 1996 when he read my first draft of my first "Do Ask Do Tell" book (1997, self-published).

 I also had submitted a novel in 1988 to Scott Meredith and certainly got an interesting response and analysis. Some agents will give you criticism (reading fee) if you submit some chapters of a novel;  this is more likely with science fiction, spy thrillers and the like. Today, those sorts of novels can become dangerously prescient. 

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