Tuesday, November 16th, 2010
39

Five Writers Explain How They Got, Kept and Fired Agents

Let’s say that after a certain amount of time, probably more than a year (and possibly more than a few), you’ve finished your novel and want to find a publisher; or perhaps at the other extreme, five hours ago you started a high-traffic Tumblr, which people are telling you needs to be made into a printed book. Either way, chances are you’re going to need an agent. Agents are the gatekeepers of publishing, which may seem kind of pointless and inefficient until you understand that these days, agents not only negotiate contracts but often also do the lion’s share of the editorial heavy lifting (leaving actual “editors” more time to manage the marketing and production side of things, which to be fair is a lot of work). A good agent will help a writer to sculpt and shape and refine a manuscript or a proposal, before turning to his or her list of contacts in publishing houses (i.e., the editors who actually shell out the cash to buy). With a thought to offer some insight into what is almost always a murky and stressful process, I asked a handful of writers to explain the experience.

I asked them these questions:

1) How did you find your agent? Have you had more than one? Was there a query letter involved (and if so, would you feel comfortable publishing some or all of it)? How much of the book was actually written when your agent started working with you?

2) How critical was your agent as an “editor” of your book, i.e., helping you to shape it? Somewhat related question: do you show your work-in-progress to your agent? Do you show it to friends/partners etc? Any advice in that regard? Is the agent different than the editor in this respect, and if so, how?

3) What do you think are the most important qualities in an agent?

4) Anything else you'd like to add to writers looking for representation?

And now, on with the case studies.

Alexander Chee: Finding the Right Fit.

My agent, Jin Auh at Andrew Wylie, found me many years ago at a reading at the Asian American Writers' Workshop, an open mike–this was when it was on St. Mark's Place. I'd just read a story I think of as, well, nuts, but she liked it, which is what matters. She just walked up to me, complimented me on it–I recall even apologizing to her for it–and then gave me her card. This is one of those signs that it might work out–if your agent likes the stuff you apologize for, you're all right. She'd just started out then and I was already signed up with my first agent. I didn't need representation and instead just kept her card. This is to say, she wasn't my agent just yet. The agent I had when I met her was referred to me through a friend who offered to set us up.

That agent, let's call her Agent 1, signed me in a running jump: I'd attracted the attention of an editor at Morrow for a manuscript he saw based on the interest of an editor at the New Yorker, who'd passed on a story of mine but liked it, and knowing it was part of a longer book, sent it to this editor. Morrow eventually passed on that book, fearing it would become 600 pages by the end, though when I look at the proposal I wrote for that book, I experience a total lack of recognition, followed by horror. I don't really blame them, in other words. I didn’t have to use a letter in either case. This might be a kind of luck. My advice on letters, though, is be succinct, respectful, and do not say crazy things in a query like “I look forward to working with you,” though if you make that sort of mistake you’re not going to listen to my advice.

Agent 1, I left her after she wanted me to withdraw my first novel, Edinburgh, from submission, after it had failed to sell. It had been rejected 24 times over two years, and she had really tried. We'd had high hopes–it won a prize, the Michener, awarded by the director of the Iowa Writers Workshop, Frank Conroy at the time, and I remember Agent 1 calling me to say Frank had called her to say he was giving me the prize that year, and could he help her sell it in any way? Now she was saying she would not go any further with it, and asked me to consider withdrawing it, which, if that happens to you, is your agent's way of saying, “We might be about to break up if things don't change.” She asked me to write my second book, the one I'm finishing edits on now, which the publishers rejecting the book were more interested in, as they kept saying “That’s his big book.”

This was killing me, that a proposal for a book I hadn't written was ruining the chances of the book I'd written. We were learning a lesson, and the lesson was, "Publishing has changed, we don't build writers slowly anymore, we don't want to take risks with material. We try to launch them with blockbuster money and create an instabrand with big books. If it fails oh well goodbye.” This was the years 1999 and 2000. I had a conversation with an editor who reluctantly turned the first book down, very much wanting it, saying, “You did everything right, publishing in journals and making a name for yourself, writing a difficult first book, but we don't do things that way anymore. You need to start with a big book.”

Agent 1 gave me good advice, even if it was hard to hear: “The first novel you finish isn't always the first novel you publish.” She said she wanted to withdraw it because she didn't want to go the small press route with my launch. “I don't think that's right for you,” she said. She felt sure that if I wrote the second book first, it would make the first book possible. I understood, but the idea of setting this book aside and writing an entire other book after all that was agonizing. Also, I'd already given up on a book before this.

I felt as if I'd been standing in a loud dark room for years, which, if you wait tables in New York, is basically true, and I wanted out. The whole thing reminded me of a story my mom had told me about going with a friend to her airline attendant audition back in the early 60s, and they wanted her instead of her friend. I just remember thinking, “If they want the pretty sister, they have to take the weird queer one who's a bit of a pyro.”

I tried it her way. I withdrew the manuscript and then spent about five months unable to write the second book. My unconscious mind was not playing ball with this plan. So I took a long train ride to work with my novel, and on the way back, read it, determined to put it aside if I really thought it was no good. I hadn't looked at it in a while. It was better than I remembered.

With a heavy heart, I took my leave of Agent 1. It was a sad day for us both—she'd made no money on me, really, and I felt badly, as she'd put a lot of time and reading into me, cheering me on, leaving me messages on my machine at the New Year saying “Maybe this is the year you finish!” and introducing me to people at parties when I ran into her. I found an editor at a small press on my own a few months later, at a panel we were on together at the Asian American Writers' Workshop (communities matter, is a lesson to the side here) and when, to my shock, he said he wanted to publish it, he referred me to someone we'll call Agent 2, who drew up the contracts.

Things finally went well for my first book, scouts were excited, reviews went well, the paperback rights went to an auction that had publishers who'd rejected it in hardcover asking to see it again (11 of the 18 asking to see it had rejected it).

And then my small press went bankrupt, owing me a great deal of money from the Picador sale and it seemed I'd never get it. Agent 2 said, essentially, I can do nothing for you there. I fired her, because I needed someone who could do something for me.

This was not precipitous: If your publisher goes bankrupt, you are in line after their printers, etc. You are small fish, even if it's a lot of money for you, and in this case, this was money I'd hoped to use for writing, say, away from restaurant work. The paperback deal had other agents interested in me. I saw how perhaps it had been a mistake to just go with whoever was interested next (the agent thing is a lot like the love thing) and this time, made a list of four agents I knew that I thought might be good and selected a first choice, Jin, and gave her a head start (someone had advised me to set it up this way and I don’t remember who—thank you, whoever you are). I gave all of them two proposals and sample pages, and a letter describing what was happening with the first book. Some agents don't like it if you're in touch with several at the same time, I've heard, but I think that's naive, and really, do you want an agent who is afraid to compete? Jin was my first choice because I’d recently run into her during the summer of my crisis, at an event for another client of hers, and she knew about my paperback sale, had seen the reviews for my book, and complimented me on it all, which showed me that about seven years later she was still paying attention to a writer she'd seen at an open mike in the East Village. That meant a lot to me.

When I met with my prospective agents, I paid attention to several things: their level of interest in my future projects and their ideas about how to handle these projects as well as my problem with my first publisher. All were great, but with Jin, I felt she just intuitively got how I worked and displayed a lot of information about approaches to both my future projects and my current crisis in a way that gave me confidence in her. And when I met with her just prior to leaving for my paperback tour, she asked me to send her a list of the places I was staying and to make sure she had the phone and fax numbers of the hotels. This was before she'd even signed me. She is still this thorough. She handled the bankruptcy stuff for me, and even got me some of what was owed me, which, in bankruptcies, is a miracle. I was able to quit that restaurant job, and about a year and a half later she sold my next book as a partial in a 9-day auction. She also put me through what she called "proposal boot camp"—no more horror story proposals like that first one. She's a brilliant agent. Anyway, moral of the story: go to your open mikes.

Agents are very critical to editing, i.e., essential. And it isn't just the notes, keep in mind: the enthusiasm matters too. Every exclamation point in response can keep you going for years. I'm completely serious about that. Jin will send me notes and meet with me to talk about my unfinished manuscripts, in the way writers once expected from editors but don't always get. This has been very helpful. I really respect her opinions. My current editor is amazing, though, and is not the hands-off kind we've come to know, the editor too buried in emails and meetings to really edit—she sent me a scrupulous, thorough editor's letter for the new book, and we've had great conversations about it. I feel very lucky with both my agent and editor.

My partner Dustin is a helpful primary reader. He's got a very sophisticated sense of narrative, and he regularly notices things I don't. I do show work to friends, typically some who are also writers, some who are not, who just love books. I think it's important to choose a mix of people as readers.

Agents have to think you're a genius. I know way too many people with semi-indifferent agents, and they don't like the way they're getting handled. If the agent has never really loved, genuinely loved something you've written, you should probably get out. Other than this, a lot of it depends on what you want from an agent. But publishing is a game of telephone: whatever your agent feels and says about your work is most of what comes back to you in terms of your career, and so it has to start out strong.

Finally: Watch your own expectations. Be a professional about how you handle yourself. Don't expect them to wave a magic wand and then everything is better.

Next: An anonymous nonfiction author explains how you know when an agent is failing you.

39 Comments / Post A Comment

fek (#93)

Thank christ you didn't call upon Joe Clark for this.

joeclark (#651)

Joe Clark would have answered any and all questions. But most answers would correspond to what has already been published: “I contacted agents and asked if they might be interested.” Man bites dog, fuckface.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

Tell them you fell into a TigerPit, fuckface

6h057 (#1,914)

That TigerPit over the lava pool, fuckface

NinetyNine (#98)

"They have the right friends, generally."

Jasmine (#8)

Helpful yet daunting!

Am I the only one bothered by the graphic? The fox jumps over the lazy dog.

David (#192)

Right. It's "The sly brown dog quickly jumped over the lazy dog." (using every letter in the alphabet)

Joey Camire (#6,325)

Where's your x?

barnhouse (#1,326)

Breathtaking story, Mr. Gallaway. Warm congratulations. As a fellow devotee of Wallace, I especially loved that first description of your novel. DFW as opera queen!!–that might have helped a great deal, come to think of it.

forrealz (#1,530)

Great post. (Your book cover is pretty!)

awlzyeah (#8,629)

dear "anonymous" (from someone who worked at a literary agency) –

while i understand there are bad agents, and do not want to diminish your experience because i don't know which agent you're talking about, there are several complaints you make that seem to demonstrate confusion about appropriate expectations of an agent. an agent's job is to make the deal, period. this can be more extensive or less extensive, depending. i'll elaborate.

as matthew galloway and alexander chee eloquently pointed out, agents now do a lot of heavy-lifting re. editing. This is an exciting and important part of the job for a good agent. However, an important distinction needs to be made about WHY the agent does editing at all. (1) Of course – the agent wants (should want) the book to be every bit the success you do. The agent's role is to help you discover or unearth what is genius (or sellable) about your book (sellable to the publisher, to the public, to the award committees, your legacy/ posterity – depending on your genre and personal objectives). However, once you have an editor, the agent should not be an editor – it is stepping on the real editor's toes. As an agent I loved and used to work with would explain to her clients "I was your editor up until this point, now so-and-so will be your editor, and I value this editor's role and have intentionally put you into good hands going forward". When the book sells – the editing job shifts, as it should. (2) An agent wants to sell your book, and often this requires extensive and critical editing. THIS is the reason (#2, not #1) that editing has shifted from publishers to agents. Editing happens upfront because the agent couldn't sell the book without editing it, for a variety of reasons (publishers not creatively envisioning opportunities for books that need work, editors being overwhelmed with marketing, email, production and distribution roles, the changes to publishing generally and the increasing difficulty of making money doing it, etc.), and this is why the agent takes the trouble to edit.

So – when you approached an agent AFTER you'd already found a publisher, that is why the agent didn't lift a finger to edit your book (and shouldn't have). Your agent should handle and negotiate the deal terms in this case. As you say, this is why you went to the agent, because you were daunted with foreign sales etc. And, when the agent negotiated your contract for you, s/he did his or her job. Period. It IS the editor's job to edit, and the agent's job to sell the book. If you'd approached the SAME agent at a different point in the process, you'd like have had a different experience. But your expectations don't make sense to me in the context of when you began working with your agent. Editing was necessary by the agent – the sale was already made.

Also, I'm curious to know what you thought was outrageous that the publisher was asking for that your agent wasn't helping with. Yes, an agent is an author's advocate, and should be irrevocably and fundamentally and passionately dedicated to this vocation. But, did you ask your agent nicely? (I'm serious – it's a professional relationship, as Alexander Chee admonished.) Did you ask for reasonable things? You said you thought your agent was "working for" the publisher, and didn't respond to your requests because s/he had to manage the relationship out of consideration of 12 other books. In contrast to your reasoning, because your agent had 12 other books with this publisher, this means your agent would have had A LOT of negotiating power to persuade the publisher on your behalf. The publisher would care just as much about his or her relationship with your valuable agent, who this publisher relies on for bringing them 12 valuable projects.

This leads me to believe that in fact your agent did not think your requests were reasonable. Is it possible you were not familiar with the publishing process, and things the publisher were asking for were quite standard, and you were balking at things that are customary in the business? Or that were so minor that it was really not a good idea for the agent to make a fuss about it? This would have been an example of that agent not only acting in self-interest, but also acting in YOUR interest, and doing the agent's job of also guarding YOUR relationship with the publisher. Yes, agents and publishers manage their relationships with each other, but agents, especially, also manage an author's relationship with the publisher – which may have been the agenting work your agent was doing that you completely missed.

As someone who also has writerly inclinations, I understand and sympathize with authors who find it a murky process and even an unsavory one. That is why agents are there – you're good at writing (and you like it), the same may not be true for you re. handling business relationships or deals. Let the agent do this for you – and listen to them. And, dare I say, thank them, profusely.

- E

David (#192)

Awesome, practical and strategic advice! I am also reminded of a previous posting: http://www.theawl.com/2009/10/urusula-nordstrom-sendaks-editor-on-wild-things-1964

jrb (#3,020)

*realizes his literary agent hates him*

Annie K. (#3,563)

Today I am old and tired and though I have a splendid agent and a lovely and occasionally involved editor, this business of writing and selling and publishing books just sounds like work. That's bad, isn't it. Really bad.

awlzyeah (#8,629)

omg, ps, note to self- one day learn to use words such as "coloratura" to advise delicately; surely, bill = part literary diety; Matt G., lovely and worth-reading retelling. thank you. any chance you'd publish the "high concept" agent list?

MatthewGallaway (#1,239)

Since I didn't make the list, I think it would be wrong to publish it, but I can tell you that there were four agents on it, and none of them were surprises.

alorsenfants (#139)

I thought this was very engaging, and everything, but, because I (probably) wrongly think that everyone in Manhattan is trying to write a (the same?) novel, I did not post a real comment about it.

Just this one.

Speedy Gray (#6,451)

Did I just read Andrew Chee's novel? Cause , it felt like it.

egad (#1,355)

Wow. This was great. Such a fascinating insight.

Unsure if this would inspire me to write a novel, or put me off doing so. Luckily I have zero talent in that respect so this isn't an issue. Phew.

DahlELama (#707)

That was a really interesting read. I have to admit that connections played a way bigger role in these anecdotes than I'd expected, but it's cool to see all the different ways these relationships can come about. Also, having been an editorial assistant at a major publishing house (or what I assume "Anonymous" thinks of as an "intern"), I would be shocked to discover that more than 15% or so of that post was true.

Clip Arthur (#2,024)

So the basic message is fairly simple. Profoundly simple: Finding an agent means entering a relationship and if you don’t feel comfortable with it, then you should leave, right?

Because ultimately, that’s something folks ignore. But if you look at agents/managers for virtually any artist in the world, you can see the same dynamic.

Also—no disrespect to anyone who does not think like this—but why would anyone want to create something in the world of words known as a “novel” and not create art? Reading the commerce aspects of the advice here all I could actually think is that if someone were to actually express a super-ego and look at their work as something they create but can live on it’s own then the work could speak for itself. I mean, unless your goal is to create pulp fiction… And there is nothing wrong with that. But I have a problem understanding the personal mentality if anyone who writes novels they don’t see as art but see as a piece of commerce to pay off their BFA/MFA.

Also, nobody really touches on the fact the Interwebs are really changing the way someone can make a name out there. Laugh as you might at all of the insta-blog/book deals but that is the future. I know more than a few folks who never published in any journal or played the BFA/MFA game and got recognition in multiple fields.

Interesting read, but the advice still seems awkward and dated at best.

Miles Klee (#3,657)

I can't speak for the other contributors, but I was rejected from the only MFA program I applied to and made whatever reputation I have solely through publishing stuff on the internet for a couple of years. Now editors I meet can say things like, "Oh, we read such-and-such on that website, and liked it." But unless you are turning a flash-in-the pan blog into a book as quickly as possible—and let's be honest, a blog is happiest in its own medium and not in need of a concrete analogue except insofar as there is money to be wrung from it—I think you'll find a lot of the old advice still applies.

I mean, I don't have an MFA to pay off, thank god. And I wanted to write something that couldn't be anything but a novel, and to be able to think of it as legitimate "art." I had the supreme good fortune to be guided by a reader through revisions that placed an emphasis on that art, revisions that only kinda incidentally make the book more marketable. Because, at least in theory, good art is more commercially valuable than bad, right?

All I'm saying is, despite being a non-MFA, internet-savvy millennial, I got somewhere in a somewhat old-fashioned way, with a somewhat old-fashioned process. I mention it only so that we do not end up thinking of Stuff White People Like as the only viable model for success in the publishing world in the 21st century. We forget, in the roar of the publishing industry's self-analysis, that newer mutations can often thrive alongside established species, and not just on their graves.

Besides, the blog advice is simple: create a heavily branded blog that people would like to read on the toilet, get a lot of traffic, wait for the editor's e-mail.

Clip Arthur (#2,024)

Respect that. But also my Internet advice comes with the following: The publishing of media as we knew it is dead or dying. No upward swing in publishing in any way for any reason because the audience is changing.

So my main caveats about dealing with old world publishing tropes is simple: These are people who in many ways have jobs that will not exist in 5-10 years. So the advice someone in a dying industry can give to folks coming from a new media perspective is desperate at best.

Or perhaps a better analogy is: You learned how to work with leather. You're good at it. Do you want to work for a buggy whip manufacturer that has a great new idea that will merge buggy whips and horseless carriages. Or do you want to pioneer the new world of driving gloves and leather trims on cars?

It really is like that out there so be careful. Big publishing is dying and wants your precious lifeblood.

MatthewGallaway (#1,239)

I understand your general point, Spy Magician, but in terms of literary fiction, I think traditional publishers (as in book publishers, not internet concerns) still sell the vast majority of books. I'm curious if you can list some examples of recently published novels that have either been commercial or critical successes (however you want to define it) where the author in question has a bigger presence on-line than in old media. (I might be stupid, but I can't really think of any; to me the internet remains primarily a promotional tool, as Miles pointed out, at least in the sphere of literary fiction.)

Clip Arthur (#2,024)

Your example is kind of a straw man, so let me put it this way: Literary and academic review journals are slowly being replaced by online equivalents. A few folks interviewed in this piece never went the traditional route and ended up at the same point. Ditto with tons of other pre 30 “memoirists” out there. It's narcissistic and blind to presume the whole media world is changing but the world of novel writing specifically in print will magically survive.

And you are right, the Internet is mainly a promotional tool. Mainly because the commodification issue has not been solved yet. But there are examples of art projects being funded on places like Kickstarter, or even bloggers asking for donations from readers and even getting them. 10 years ago online tip jar systems failed and now they are coming back in their own way.

If in 10 years from now print publishers I will print out and eat my words. But the game is over.

Unless you want to be delusional like vinyl album enthusiasts who believe vinyl records are coming back because of a minor hipster resurgence. Guess what? The golden age of the record industry is over and the 1960s-1980s are never coming back.

Books will be a slower death but it will never be a growth. The fact a few homeless guys on my block use Kindles speaks to that. And these are guys I know for a fact used to schlep boxes of books to sell them on the street.

Cassandra over and out.

jennie (#25)

painting has been declared "dead" off and on now for oh, 30-40 years? and no one ever gets tired of talking everyone to their own death about it. and painting isn't dead, it just spins off into it's some lovely iterations on and on and on. i am old-fashioned, and basically old! but literary fiction, even if the business models change, isn't dead and neither is the publishing industry. i would be really interested to see how the internet changes this business model as it currently stands, but right now it's as Miles said: a great place for editors to click thru your online work. also, that's like saying the graphic design industry was dead when everyone was using macpaint and then photoshop came out. or something.

MatthewGallaway (#1,239)

Very much agree with this! I expect some Big Publishers will continue to exist and move online, some will fail, and a range of independent ones will find new ways (some good, some bad, because that's how it always is) to use the internet for their/our purposes, which as writers usually means telling our stories (loosely defined) and as publishers means selling these stories in some form or another.

jennie (#25)

also, not everyone on the planet has an internet connection, actually. or wants one. or can afford one. and how many of those people want to download books. the internet is kind of retarded, too. sometimes. just a little. and so is everyone on it. so it would be super interesting to see what kind of model the internet could provide. love you, internet. but then, a video of a bear marrying a kitten happens and it's all good. so.

ps. matthew i love the internet so don't worry.

Clip Arthur (#2,024)

Jennie, painting as a viable commercial entity outside of painting walls is indeed dead. Photography was the first major nail in the coffin. Why pay and seek out a talented painter when you can find one of the myriad of photographers who can take an actual picture of reality. Why do you think modern painting forms/methods have grown? It is truly an artform now in the literal sense.

Also, no method of doing anything fully dies. But the scope and scale changes to the point it becomes irrelevant.

I mean in high school in the 1980s I had friends who made decent money waiting in lines for tickets for a local scalper. Nowadays some kid somewhere writes a script to auto-buy tickets in bulk and thus the market for kids willing to wait in lines and get some money is gone.

Also, not everyone needs the Internet at home to benefit. There's more than enough free access. So someone with a Kindle and a power outlet needs to only find some free Wi-Fi and there they go!

The more major point is this all really comes down to money and not much else. So I personally predict in the next 5-10 years something will swing in favor of creators so I could–let's say–have a very popular video on YouTube and a reward is I get a penny per unique video view. Not anything to retire off of, but at least I get some pocket change for filming kittens doing something. And in the case of authors it's not inconceivable to see someone start out as a writer by self-publishing a PDF of a work, ask for donations and if the work has legs there you go.

If at the end of the day a beginning author can get $5,000-$10,000 via online donations (see my note on Kickstarter above) that's actually right on par with getting a book advance. But without a publishing house involved or agents involved.

Yes, this is idyllic, but I genuinely believe this is the way it will go.

MatthewGallaway (#1,239)

Hey Spy, I don't disagree with you at all in terms of your future writing scenarios, but I think you're only seeing/describing part of the picture. Even if everything you say comes to pass, do you really think it's going to destroy the big, multinational publishers? My guess is that both will continue to operate. Let's check back in ten years and see who's right!

Clip Arthur (#2,024)

I think the wires are crossed here. I agree with you as well. But mainly from this very simple perspective:
• CD sales were destroyed when someone devised a way of easily converting CDs to MP3s.
• DVD sales were destroyed when someone devised a way of easily converting DVDs to AVIs, MP4s and whatnot.
• Book sales will not be destroyed in that way since there is no easy way for a normal person to convert a printed book to a PDF.

Large publishers will still exist and have some edge. No doubt on that. But the option for a casual author to have a wider audience and collect money from readers directly is going to grow.

jennie (#25)

agree. somewhat.

jennie (#25)

i could be wrong but painting, overall as big ticket items, drive the art market still. and mileage may vary according to year, taste, and which dealer needs to pay off what debt… also despite jaded and over it painters themselves, nevermind photographers, painting grinds on deliciously. much like the publishing industry. basically (as an editor friend just shouted into the phone) NOBODY KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT (including me ha ha) and are only guessing at what the future of the industry will look like. Right now, a writer still needs an agent or you are looking at an extremely on-the-fringes career or a very honorable maybe fruitless DIY one. nothing you suggest is inconceivable but writers still need agents, even if it's just to curtail their lunacy for five minutes.
did fugazi have a manager? i bet they did?
ok i'm out. peace.

Richard Thomas (#8,699)

A couple names come to mind: Blake Butler (Ever; Scorch Atlas) has a two book deal with Harper Perennial now. Also, Shya Scanlon, based on an internet serial called Forecast 42 (revealed over 42 different websites) now has Forecast with Flatmancrooked. Might not be commercial or critically successful enough for your definition though.

It's changing, the landscape. Many universities are adding in a web journal in addition to a print run (typically small) or dropping print for online due to the cost. I'm a big fan of the printed book, but it's changing, so much of the way we read. Great article.

shudder (#5,913)

How badly do I want to read The Metropolis Case RIGHT NOW? Badly.

How upset am I that it won't be available till after Christmas: quite.

Can people stop using "which" like that. It is really driving me nuts.

jennie (#25)

ok fugazi did not have a manager. “My manager? I am the manager — what are you talking about?” Mackaye said to one audience member in the montage recording who jokingly asked to see his manager. “We have no manager.”

MatthewGallaway (#1,239)

I bet Fugazi had a booking agent though? And everything else you said was totally on, I think! Bottom line — I'll eat my shorts if agents aren't around in ten years and basically doing the same thing they're doing now, which I think makes the whole idea of finding a good one (if you're a writer) still relevant. But hey, I'm biased, obviously, because I wrote/compiled the post lol.

Robin Nixon (#11,186)

As a published author of ten non-fiction titles I gave up on looking for agents a long time ago. None of my books were sold through an agent, instead I used research and hard work to find just the right editor at the right publishing house for each book (so far O'Reilly, McGraw-Hill and Wiley). Even though some of them say they only accept agented submissions that's not always the case; if you can find a way to establish a discussion with an editor you may be able to pitch a book.

The last time I tried to get an agent was after I had seven books published, and even with that track record it was nothing but dozens of rejections (well mostly being ignored actually). So I went back to editors I knew and asked if they knew other editors suitable for my book, and one of them did, which led to a commission.

Since then I only ever deal with editors and have been able to negotiate acceptable terms for my books that I doubt an agent could better anyway. I'm not sure how it works in fiction, but for non-fiction, I am proof that you don't need an agent (and now I'm not sure what I'd do with one if I had one :)

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