Pub Rants

Agents-What Are We Good For?

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STATUS: What a fun day. Bookseller chick rocks by answering my bookseller questions right there on her blog (and heartily shamed me into ALWAYS talking to my local booksellers when I’m at the store) and Linnea, her editor Anne Groell, and I have been having an email fest to work out the kinks in Linnea’s world for her next, upcoming SF romance tentatively titled GAMES OF COMMAND. Talk about a brainstorming session! We nailed some pretty important distinctions concerning furzels (read: felines) and space travel.

(And Bookseller Chick, if you’re reading, you might try moving Linnea’s stuff to your romance section. We even had a bookseller email us to say that she sold 10 copies in one day after the move and many other booksellers have emailed us to say they’ve done the same and were happy with sales).

What song is playing on the iPod right now? EVERYTHING (IS NEVER QUITE ENOUGH) by Wasis Diop

Well, if you’re reading writer discussion boards and an irate, rejected writer has posted, sometimes we aren’t good for much.

Huge grin here.

Even my status update today gives a little hint of what we do besides reading the slush pile, sending massive reams of rejections, and eating bon-bons with one hand tied behind our backs.

And I hope some of my other blog posts have revealed tiny glimpses of our secret lives (and yes, sending Chutney pics to Ms. Groell today technically still counts as working) but in case that’s not enough, I’ve discovered a new blog (thank you Diana Peterfreund) and The Man in Black, New York Editor Jason Pinter, is revealing The Truth About Literary Agents.

You might want to give that a look.

10 Responses

  1. kis said:

    Hmm, I always eat my bon-bons two-fisted.

    Course, right now I’m typing one-handed (the other being greasy from the popcorn). 🙂

  2. December Quinn said:

    Anyone who thinks agents don’t actually do anything either had no idea of how publishing actually works, or has never had to be a salesperson.

    Or both.

    Or they have an overinflated idea of their own talent. It’s probably a combination of the three.

  3. 2readornot said:

    That was very interesting – both sites. My learning grows in leaps and bounds, and let’s hope my writing does, as well 😉

  4. Elektra said:


    “Some agents will sell 9 out of every ten projects they submit. Other agents will sell 1 out of every 500. Hey authors, we know which agents are which. And so should you.”

    HOW should we know? It’s easy enough to tell whether someone’s a scam artist, but where does he propose we find out what per centage the agent sells at? Most agents list sales on their website or PM–so if they’ve sold twenty books in the past year, I’ve no way of knowing that they accepted 100 for representation.

  5. BrianRay said:

    elektra wrote: “It’s easy enough to tell whether someone’s a scam artist.”
    That may be true to many of us, but sadly there are new writers out there getting scammed every day. This is a tough enough business to break into as it is; it really gets discouraging when you find out that the “agency” that has praised you and told you how great your work was as they slowly milked a hundred dollars here and there that you can’t really afford to send is nothing but a scam. Make sure you check out the agency that you’re submitting to first! Use the writers beware website or any of the others that are available. And keep plugging away.

  6. Brooke said:

    Hey, there’s no doubt you’re busy. You help the world discover good books, and that is wonderful.

    But some of the things on your blog make me cringe. People who query you are held up to sort of a gentle Midwestern humiliation. If I was the POD author you wrote about last Friday, I’d be hanging my head in shame. I got the lesson of the post – but did you have to be so blatant about who it was?

    I’m glad you write your blog – you’ve made me a little more savvy about what agents look for, and I thank you for that. But there is something to be said for anonymity when it comes to sparing people’s feelings.

    This business is hard enough without people taking potshots at one another – agents and authors both.

  7. Bookseller Chick said:

    But see, if you talk to all the booksellers when you go in, chances are you can get them to flip out all of your clients books in a way that they’ll remember that they are supposed to be flipped out (instead of being blind to the face out because hey, they didn’t do that). See, win/win situation!

    If Linea’s books have all the qualifications for romance I’ll move them. Had I known I could have sold a copy yesterday to a woman who was looking for more scifi-ish romances (vs the urban fantasy).

    Thanks for the traffic over at my blog, feel free to ask me questions any time.

  8. Amie Stuart said:

    >>HOW should we know?

    Ask……..seriously! Ask questions, ask the agent, contact a few clients, google the agent’s name etc. It took me almost two weeks to decide on my last(current) agent and I pestered her with all sorts of questions she was more than happy to answer (recent sales, agency agreement, editorial style etc etc etc).

  9. husky gang said:

    hi already have agent for our 5th book. seems good- we already have 4 books and records with warner bros. look up our website our latest is practicing sucks a series first music practice have found 2 million people start piano ea year in usa, 90percent drop within a year. our next in the series is on golf. we have a blog-huskygang- there is a theme park in the works depending on a countywide vote in november. als now am an official provider for discover channel. we do not have an agent for the husky gang seriea phyllis sdoia-satz warner bros. that was a mistake anyway query- does a publisher do publicity? we have been on cnn,headline news,eyewitness news 5 shows many others but we did it ourselves-knight ridder newspapers have done 22 stories with us etc we did it ourselves since we have the real husky gang. thanks just ranting barry satz