RSS

Publishing Institute Post #2: What’s an Agent? Why should you get one?

19 Jul

Golden Gate Bridge

(Warning: the following lesson may not be appropriate for those who want to self-publish or send excerpts and short stories to magazines or publishing books. For everyone else: enjoy.)

So picture this:

Many moons ago you had an idea, nay, an urge to write. For weeks you slaved over details, world building, character creation, and crafting. You’ve received good and bad advice. You’ve struggled with writer’s block. You’ve neglected the dirty dishes in the sink. After an undefined period of time, you’ve finally done it! You’ve written a novel. Now all that’s left is to send it in to a publisher right? After that the big bucks come flowing in… right?

Wait… Why am I not getting any feedback? (I sent it to like… seven Publishing houses)

Why is my story being ignored? (I worked so hard on it. I even bought books on writing)

Why won’t anyone take me seriously? (I swear I showered last night!)

If the above sounds like an exaggerated version of you, do not lose hope. It’s not that your story is bad, or that you’re unlikeable. It’s that you have no representation.

Now you might be wondering: What the heck is this nut talking about? Representation? Isn’t my skill enough?

It’s a fair question, but have you ever heard of Nikolai Tesla? The man was a genius, crafting marvels of scientific wonder and shattering the per-conceived notions of his time. He’s the reason electricity works the way it does, and is partially responsible for the name of an amazing 80’s heavy metal band.

"I'm on the highway to that one place full of bad people." -Heavily paraphrased by me.

“I’m on the highway to that one place full of bad people.”
-Heavily paraphrased by me.

Unfortunately, the man died broke and shamed. It wasn’t that his talent wasn’t enough, but that no one wanted to vouch for his brilliance. In fact, the man had most of his inventions stolen by a dude who crafted the lightbulb. The ones that weren’t stolen were disavowed or made infamous by a man with way more money and influence.

So what went wrong? Well it wasn’t that the man wasn’t talented, that’s for certain. Instead it’s that he wasn’t very well represented in his life. Had he the lauding and background we give him today things might have been different for good ‘ol Tesla.

Fortunately for you, dear writer, you don’t need to pass on to gain representation. The States are a much more forgiving place nowadays, and anyone with an iota of brilliance can gain the representation they need to help make their dreams a reality. How, you ask?

Why, with an Agent of course!

"You called?"

“You called?”

Wrong Agent…

Actually, the kind of agent i’m talking about is a Publishing Agent. Should one choose to go the traditional route, these people are your first step to getting your story published. Paid by commission, these men and women work tirelessly to make your manuscript as perfect a possible. All the while they act as a liaison between you and the Publishing company, ensuring you come out of the bargain with the best possible rewards and rights.

“But wait!” you might say, “What if this agent is no help at all? What if they try to steal my work I so lovingly crafted?”

Again another fair question. As writers we often feel wary with sharing with other people our works. It’s the ultimate paradox really, for we are careful with disclosure, but we want people to see and love our works. Thus I say to you, aspiring writers, if you wish to let others see your work, why not start with one who’s life goal is to help those like you?

See, in a previous article I talked about people who work by commission. Like a freelance editor, an agent works the same way. The difference: rather than be paid up front, the agent is paid when you are paid by the publishing company. In essence their entire livelihood exists solely because writer’s like you need representation. Thus many agents are more than happy to give that, should time or skill permit.

In addition to that, the very word “Agent” has quite the history in and of itself. It’s origin, agere, is the Latin word for “to set in motion, drive, lead, or conduct.” Seems fitting for one who tries to get your work noticed, no? Well wait, it gets better! In the 1550’s, the decade before Shakespeare himself was born, the term had a much more powerful meaning. According to the Online Etymology “Agent” meant “Any natural force or substance which produces a phenomenon,” a fitting definition for one who wishes to help stories succeed. Four decades later it meant “the representative,” again another fitting definition. It wasn’t until the 1910’s that the word became synonymous with “spies,” but I digress.

“Well they sound great and all, but where can I find one?” you may ask. Fortunately the answer is quite simple.

Take a novel you like, preferably one you’re novel resembles in tone or genre, and look at the dedications. Often times authors will acknowledge their agent in the dedications of their books. While this is a good start, there is also no harm in searching for agents online. Agents’ webpages and blogs pepper the internet far and wide. Oftentimes they’ll list what they’ve worked on and what they want to endorse. All it takes is one email.

Or,you could use this website: http://publishersmarketplace.com/

I mean… I guess you could look up your favorite books. Maybe the agent will be listed. I suppose you could pay for the full service, i’m told it might be totally worth it.

Like the picture above, an agent is like a bridge. They serve to connect what is naturally separate, in this case the writer and publishers. In addition they support those who wish to cross, as they will do for your manuscript as it goes to the publisher. If things pan out the bridge will help make it to the other side, and will even support you on the way back. That’s what bridges do, and I feel agents do that just as well.

And if your bridge is bad then you could always find another one.

—-

So that’s my word on bri- I mean agents. I know I said I’d talk about editors this time around but I felt this needed to be said first. I promise the next one will talk about the various kinds of editors that help shape your books to excellence.

In the meantime, does anyone have a personal experience with an agents? Have you ever found a good one? Are there any you find particularly exciting?

If you want, leave a comment below. Until next time.

Advertisements
 
6 Comments

Posted by on July 19, 2013 in Advice, Publishing Institute

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

6 responses to “Publishing Institute Post #2: What’s an Agent? Why should you get one?

  1. gnashteeth

    July 20, 2013 at 2:27 am

    In a so-called writing career of many years (in which I’ve published quite a lot of books) I’ve had no less than eight agents. Only one of them has sold anything of mine. Just one very short book. I’ve sold the rest myself. Consequently – you might not be surprised to hear – I have a low opinion of literary agents. I’ll be writing a blog about my experience of, and with, these people in due course…

     
    • writemindedrazo

      July 20, 2013 at 3:04 am

      I hope I didn’t offend. I wrote this more to get people interested in what Literary Agents can do for their manuscript. Obviously not everyone has a great time/success with their agents, and I’m sorry to hear you had a hard time. Even so I would like to see your upcoming post. It sounds like it’d be a good antithesis to what I’ve written above.

       
  2. muscle building workouts without weights

    July 24, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your site. It’s a very
    easy on the eyes which makes it much more pleasant for me to come here and visit more often.
    Did you hire out a designer to create your theme?
    Excellent work!

     
  3. ayqdanialabmpnbi

    August 18, 2013 at 3:13 am

    Why visitors still use to read news papers when in this technological globe the
    whole thing is available on net?

     
    • writemindedrazo

      August 30, 2013 at 4:37 pm

      You’d be surprised. Believe it or not many people still read the papers due to their content being much more detailed and fulfilling in contrast to the quick blurbs you’d find online.

      It may not be the way some small presses work but the larger presses with big reputations will hold fast. Plus some people just like having a paper in the morning.

       
  4. sangstarkalyebqa

    September 9, 2013 at 8:42 am

    Hello my family member! I want to saay that this post is
    amazing, nice written and include approximately all important infos.
    I’d like to peer more posts like this .

     

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
Tupelo Press

Live from the Loft

EerdWord

the Eerdmans blog

Living In Italy.Moving To Italy. Loving In Italy. Laughing In Italy.

"American Expat In Italy. A Hysterical Struggle With Language, Love, And Culture"-Probably Someone

thebookkahuna

Just another WordPress.com site

allmostrelevant

Want to see what an Instagram with no pictures looks like? @allmostrelevant

TheCoevas official blog

Strumentisti di Parole/Musicians of words

Adult & Teen Fiction

Read on and I will show you another world within this one....

Interesting Literature

A Library of Literary Interestingness

Street Photographer Blog

“I am not an artist. I am an image maker.” – Thomas Hoepker

Valourbörn

Where heroes are born.

bottledworder

easy reading is damn hard writing

Ray Ferrer - Emotion on Canvas

** OFFICIAL Site of Artist Ray Ferrer **

Street of Dreams

A literary blog of poet, playwright and essayist Rachael Stanford

Sophie Bowns

“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.” ― Gloria Steinem

A Journalist's Fantasy

Learning the ropes of the digital age, while staying true to my love of words

C.N. Faust

Writer of Fantasy and Horror

The Favorite Aunt

Feminism in the Family

%d bloggers like this: