4/15/11

Layman Publication: The Agent Search

I'm in the process of writing a Facebook note detailing the publication process for my non-writer friends, because I've had to answer too many times that a "finished book does not a NYT bestseller make." This is part 3. (But if all the parts are this long, there will definitely be some cutting.)
  • Rejections are usually form rejections. Agents don't have time to tell explain themselves - and they shouldn't have to - so they send you a quick email that says something to the effect of, "This is great, but not for us." (Some authors collect their rejections and then parade them around when they get famous.) But requests...
  • ...are more fun. You send out the requested material and wait. Hopefully you're already working on another story, because you can't spend all your life waiting for a response...
  • ...which is sometimes a rejection. "Thanks for the look, but this isn't for us." But it's not always a rejection. Sometimes it's a...
  • ...request for more. So you send them more! And you wait. And wait. Again, you can get a rejection response...
  • ...or one of two things: revision advice, which means the agent isn't ready to commit but would like you to work on specific revisions and send it back when finished, or work more closely with you on said revisions; or...
  • ...an offer of representation. This is when the agent says, "I want you to be my client, and I'll represent you to publishers." Sometimes, if your book is stellar, you've been undergoing this whole process with multiple agents, and then you contact them all to let them know you've been offered representation (you don't do this if they've already rejected you). You talk to each one, decide who you want to work with, and...
  • ...you sign on the dotted line.
    • But be careful! Some agents aren't really above board, and it's easy to get scammed. Agents should never ask for money up front; they don't get paid until your book sells. Do your research and check with the AAR and Writer Beware to see if they're legit. You can also look at what books they've sold in the past.
Next up: publication

Did I miss anything? What would you add/take-out?

1 comment:

Stina Lindenblatt said...

And even if your agent is legit, you should still listen to your gut. It's too easy to say 'yes' to an agent who wants to rep your book, only to discover later you two aren't good together.

That's happened to a number of my writer friends. Fortunately most when onto finding new agents and eventually landing a contact with a publisher for a new book.