Literary Agent

Discussion in 'The Book Club' started by Flying Viking, Mar 9, 2015.

  1. Flying Viking

    Flying Viking Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Does anyone know a good literary agent who would accept a query from a first-time author in the legal thriller/suspense genre?

    I am aware of the on-line agent databases and have mined those for information. Looking specifically for a personal introduction.
     
  2. Drrhein

    Drrhein Filing Flight Plan

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    Aviation Related?
     
  3. tinerj

    tinerj Cleared for Takeoff

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    I have sold and had published about 90 books and never found an agent that sold a single one of my books. Its easier to find a publisher than an agent.
     
  4. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    I can't imagine any agent who could sell someone's work any better than the author could themselves. Find a publisher who functions in this genre, send out some proposals and prepare to have a thick skin. The only thing about which every famous author in the world will agree is that they got rejected a bunch of times before they sold anything.

    I can't blame the publishers, either. Its expensive printing a bunch of books, a real risk. Of course, any author can self publish and take on all the risk themselves...
     
  5. write-stuff

    write-stuff En-Route

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    Especially for fiction, you will definitely need an agent. Most major publishers won't even talk to you without one, and doubly so if you're not already an established author. Technical books and non-fiction are a bit easier to crack. There are specialty and university publishers for these who may be willing to listen to your pitch.

    Vanity publishers are all over the place. They will publish anything since you will be covering most, if not all, of the expense. They may brag about how strongly they will promote your book, but it's likely that their efforts will be ineffective or non-existent.

    Commercial fiction is a difficult market to get into since it is already flooded with highly profitable authors. A good agent, preferably with a prestigious New York address will be extremely helpful.

    And finally, don't ask friends and family to critique your work. They will give you false hope. Seek out people who are willing to tear your writing apart. The best critique you can get is a bad one.
     
  6. wanttaja

    wanttaja En-Route

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    Well, I'm not famous, but my first novel got rejected 15 times before a publisher took it.

    A literary agent brings two things to the table. First, a knowledge of the industry, including, often, an existing relationship with the editors involved. The agent will know who's buying, and who's buying *what*.

    Second, the agent acts as an initial filter for the editor. The editor may get thousands of submissions a year, and scans through them (briefly) on occasion, or pays readers to work through the slush pile.

    When it comes from an agent, that's the equivalent of already having passed through the first-level filter...the agent probably won't send something unless they, themselves, feel it's worth publishing. The agent knows if he keeps sending dreck to a particular editor, the editor will be less likely to pay much attention to his submissions.

    The traditional publishing process blew apart with the rise of the word processor. In the old days, an author had to type a manuscript by hand...the ability to do 300+ pages on this basis was the first filter. Then there was only one, precious copy of the manuscript. An author would consult the industry guides, and pick the publisher most-suited to the genre. If the publisher rejected it, the one manuscript came back (via the author's SASE), and the author would send it to the next publisher on the list.

    Now? The author whips it out on a word processor, gets a list of ten or twenty publishers, and emails a copy to all of them simultaneously. The editors get flooded...which is one reason an agent helps.

    The situation isn't as bad for non-fiction, since the author usually needs certain qualifications outside the ability to write.

    Self-publishing is an option, of course, but the main problem there is *marketing*. How do you tell millions of potential readers your book is out there? Most of the time, the only sales you see are to friends. A web page is one thing, but having a book displayed on the Amazon splash page or on a rack at Barnes and Noble is another thing entirely.

    Yes, there are success stories, but they're often niche books. And if they *do* catch on, they often get migrated to conventional publication. "The Martian" started out as an e-book, but there probably wouldn't be a Matt Damon movie coming out this year if it hadn't attracted the attention of a traditional-style publisher.

    Ron Wanttaja
     
  7. Flying Viking

    Flying Viking Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Check, check, check and check. No way I will try to go down the traditional publishing route without an agent. I've about 110 of them in a database right now, and am slowly querying my way through them.

    Except for my wife, I picked beta readers who did not know me at all. And my wife derives her greatest satisfaction from criticizing everything I do...
     
  8. Flying Viking

    Flying Viking Pre-takeoff checklist

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    :yeahthat:

    Interesting, I did not know the back-story of the SASE...I wonder what happened if the editor spilled a cup of coffee on the manuscript during the review process?
     
  9. wanttaja

    wanttaja En-Route

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    My wife's a published author, so the ink runs rich and red when we go over each other's stuff. Good books aren't written, they're RE-written, based on the author's own editing and the input from people who aren't afraid to criticize.

    A lot of new writers don't understand that. I've had folks request that I "take a look at their story" in the past, and they often look shocked when they get it back. But that's part of the process that gets one to print.

    You stuck a piece of paper in your typewriter and re-typed the page(s). No biggie, as long as the whole thing didn't get soaked. By the time it had gone out three or four times, it was getting pretty dog-eared and you'd want to retype the whole thing, anyway. You don't really want the next editor to know how much it'd been rejected....

    Ron Wanttaja
     
  10. tinerj

    tinerj Cleared for Takeoff

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    Yes, after four rejections I would retype and maybe make some changes, usually to tighter it and make it more concise.

    I read The Elements of Style at least once a year and found The Art of Readable Writing to be especially helpful.
     
  11. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    Difference in experiences, but I do publish in a fairly niche field, so I can see why my experience is different. Only ever published one piece of science fiction.

    My doctoral dissertation.
     
  12. Flying Viking

    Flying Viking Pre-takeoff checklist

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    :rofl:

    My dissertation started with the following quote: "The average PhD thesis is nothing but the transference of old bones from one graveyard to the next."

    It never became a bestseller...
     
  13. wanttaja

    wanttaja En-Route

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    I write a lot of science fiction, too. Though in my case, they're called "responses to requests for proposals" :)

    http://dilbert.com/strip/2002-01-03


    Ron Wanttaja