Pub Rants

The Agent Crystal Ball Myth

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STATUS: Reviewing royalty statements—of course.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? I LOVE ROCK AND ROLL by Joan Jett

Agents really don’t have a crystal ball to anticipate the market. For example, 2 years ago when Gail came to me with her manuscript SOULLESS, I wasn’t sitting at my desk thinking, “wow, if Jane Austen were to write a Victorian Steampunk fantasy, this vampire/werewolf comedy of manners called SOULLESS would definitely be it and yessiree, this type of parody is the wave of the future.” Heck no. I just sat at my desk thinking, “wow, this is cool and I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

Little did I know two years ago that in 2009, Pride & Prejudice & Zombies would hit a cultural nerve and climb the New York Times bestseller list and something like SOULLESS would be hitting the market at exactly the right time. Now I look like a genius who anticipated potentially the next “hot” trend. Uh…. yeah, that’s it.

SOULLESS is powerhousing out of the gate with thousands of copies sold in its first two weeks on sale. It’s number #21 on Bookscan’s fantasy bestseller list (and may have the potential to climb some—although it’s going to be dang hard to knock Charlaine Harris out of the top 10 slots with her Sookie Stackhouse/HBO’s True Blood series.)

It looks like I’ve had incredible foresight but the truth is that I didn’t know this was going to happen. Any agent that tells you differently is feeding you a load of you know what.

Now we can surmise, guess, analyze what is hot and what is still selling and make some assumptions about what might trend in the future.

But none of us actually know. Which is a good reason to never ask the question at a writers’ conference!

Congrats Gail on a stunning debut!

33 Responses

  1. Jessi Word said:

    Genius or not — Congratulations! Clearly you are a talented agent with her finger aptly on the right pulse. (“Pulse” maybe subjective, considering the subject matter).

    But wow! I think it’s a lesson to your readers who aspire for publication. Taste is true to the agent. If you like it, and it works for you, well there’s reason. If not, well, move on.

    I’m sure a bit of this success had to do with timing, and maybe stars aligning, but honestly? It’s a great novel coupled with a great agent.

    You both deserve to be showered with success!


  2. J.E. MacLeod said:

    Looks like a great book, but seriously when I first saw the title of your blog I thought it said The Agent Crystal Meth. Glad it wasn’t what I thought. 🙂

  3. dylan said:

    I must be gettin dyslexic.

    I read the title of this blog entry as ” The Agent Crystal Meth Ball”.

    I was thinking, “What is THIS about.”


  4. Tina Lynn said:

    I love rock ‘n roll
    Put another dime in the jukebox baby
    I love rock ‘n roll

    …wait…is typing this out copyright infringement?

    Nice song choice. What was the blog about again? Crystal meth?

  5. Tara said:

    This book sounds great, and I’m sure it will continue to do well. Sometimes the timing just works in your favor.

  6. Lauren said:

    When I was at BEA, and I saw the cover, and how cute Gail was, and the tea and cookies being offered at her signing, I knew I had to read this book.

    And I’m so glad I did. It was different and refreshing. A must read.

  7. Gordon Jerome said:

    Why do I feel like the Joker in that scene in The Dark Knight. The one where Gordon has just been promoted to commissioner and all the cops in the jailhouse are clapping, and the Joker is clapping, too, in this mocking way with a completely bored and sardonic look on his face.

    I don’t know. It just came to me after reading this post. I guess the more I fail in life, the more I take solace in Heath Ledger’s final act–as the Joker, I mean.

  8. Ian the Duck said:

    It sounds like a great book and I’m going to grab a copy from my library soon. There is just one thing I worry about: is there any room left for fantasy writers like me who have a passion for ‘old school’ fantasy (ie based on Old English etc culture and myth) or is the literary world as obsessed with ‘originality’ as the rest of the art world; to its detriment in my view…

  9. Dara said:

    That cover (at least the title) reminds me a lot of the poster for the 2006 Marie Antoinette movie. It looks cool 🙂

  10. Jessica Strider said:

    I loved SOULLESS, it was such an awesome read. And very timely, what with this being Tor’s Steampunk month and several other steampunk novels out around the same time. The easy crossover appeal with Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance is just a hand sell bonus for booksellers like me.

  11. Countrymouse said:

    Went to Borders this past weekend. Am reading Soulless now and LOVING it. Congrats to Gail and Kristin. 🙂

  12. Kristina said:

    J’adore the cover!!! It’s fantastic. I’m sure the story is as well. Now my interest is piqued. And I’m hoping that the climate for Victorian novels is perfect, for personal reasons.