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Old 10th December 2006, 08:30 AM   #61 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

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Old 10th December 2006, 06:42 PM   #62 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

Hey, glad to see you back, John.

I take it the house moving nightmare is almost over then? Or would you prefer not to jinx it?
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Old 10th December 2006, 09:13 PM   #63 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

Hah. Presently paying both a mortgage for a flat I can't use because of noisy neighbours and rent for another flat, so I CAN work.

Onwards, I guess...
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Old 11th December 2006, 01:13 PM   #64 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

John, Is it common for publishing contracts to require the author to perform promotional activities such as book signings, interviews and tours? Also, would it be a deal breaker if the author just was not interested in doing those things?
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Old 11th December 2006, 03:42 PM   #65 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

That usually only kicks in once the author has a high profile. Taking a new author around for signings is soul destroying. Three people (or less) requesting signed copies in an hour. In general terms - and I'm talking about UK publishing - a new novelist will maybe get a couple of online interviews and sign some stock at specialist bookshops. The only exception would be a book the publisher is spending a helluva lot of marketing money on - 50k or so - where they would pull out all the stops.
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Old 11th December 2006, 04:52 PM   #66 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

John, if I were to guess that the number of U.K. agents who have Fantasy/Sci-Fi as their prime interest could be counted on the fingers of both hands (possibly even one) do you think I could be right? If I am, you're a rare and very useful bird!
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Old 11th December 2006, 05:46 PM   #67 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

Prime interest...you're probably looking at the fingers of one hand. Other big agencies deal with SFF as well as all other areas of fiction and non-fiction, of course...
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Old 11th December 2006, 06:50 PM   #68 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

Yes, I know. But dealing with SFF doesn't necessarily mean regularly pulling new writers from the slush pile. For example, I looked at the client list of an agent working for one of the very big agencies, and she had a very well known U.S. author on her list, but no other SFF writers. She would be representing that author because her agency does the U.K. work for his U.S. agency. As she's got him, perhaps she's considered to be their chief SFF agent, which doesn't bode well for unpublished writers hopefully submitting to them on the grounds that, technically yes, they do deal in SFF!
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Old 11th December 2006, 08:02 PM   #69 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

The same can be true of the big agencies here, certainly...but some big-name SFF writers WANT to be represented by a major mainstream agency, not a genre specialist. I know this from conversations with some of them...
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Old 11th December 2006, 08:47 PM   #70 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

Certainly, I can believe that. The big agencies may also benefit on the rare occasions when an unknown and un-agented writer finds a mainstream publisher for a first novel, and then looks for an agent to negotiate the contract. What I'm really getting at is that it may be very rare for any agencies other than those with an agent who has a genuine SFF interest to actually pick an SFF novel as the one in a thousand that they choose to represent from the submissions sent to them, although they may have acquired SFF clients in other ways. It may be that aspiring (U.K.) SFF writers are looking at a very small field.
What would your guess be on the number of agencies who've taken on a new SFF client from their submission piles this year be? Could we count them on one hand or two?!!!
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Old 12th December 2006, 08:12 AM   #71 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

Yes, you're right about the big agencies not necessarily seeing the gold in the dross, where SFF is concerned.

Exactly like publishers, the huge majority of the typescripts sent to agents simply aren't good enough. In terms of ALL submissions to agents, I've been told by old friends in the business that taking on one client out of 100 submissions is reckoned good going. Since starting the agency over two years ago, I've taken on just over 20 clients - but I've now turned down well over 1300 submissions. And 90% of those could be turned down after reading ten pages - that is the norm in publishing, too. There were six major debuts in the genre in the UK this year.
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Old 12th December 2006, 10:42 AM   #72 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

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Yes, you're right about the big agencies not necessarily seeing the gold in the dross, where SFF is concerned.

Exactly like publishers, the huge majority of the typescripts sent to agents simply aren't good enough. In terms of ALL submissions to agents, I've been told by old friends in the business that taking on one client out of 100 submissions is reckoned good going. Since starting the agency over two years ago, I've taken on just over 20 clients - but I've now turned down well over 1300 submissions. And 90% of those could be turned down after reading ten pages - that is the norm in publishing, too. There were six major debuts in the genre in the UK this year.
Gulp! The odds are frightening and seem to get longer. Also, when I read the quality of some of the new writers that are appearing I wonder if I am being a bit b-minded, if not stupid, in thinking any of my work could make it.
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Old 12th December 2006, 11:23 AM   #73 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

The only statistic that's slightly surprising there, John, is your astonishingly high take up rate. I guessed it would be higher than average for two obvious reasons. Firstly, because a specialist agent will recieve far less submissions than a general "all genre" agent, and virtually all will be in his/her field of interest; and secondly, because you're still building up your stable of clients, and presumably haven't reached the point where you're working full time on them, and can only rarely add new ones. Which leads me to my question, which is, based on your experience so far, about how many clients do you think you could reasonably cope with (without taking on an assistant or partner). The Marco guess is about 50.
I'm not trying to frighten you SJAB, but the one in a thousand figure is often given by well established, general (all or most genre) agents. They know that they are passing over about ten publishable books for every one that they take up, but they're working full time and can't take more.
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Old 12th December 2006, 11:47 AM   #74 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

I hope that my being honest here does help...
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Old 12th December 2006, 12:21 PM   #75 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

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Gulp! The odds are frightening and seem to get longer. Also, when I read the quality of some of the new writers that are appearing I wonder if I am being a bit b-minded, if not stupid, in thinking any of my work could make it.
You and me both SJAB! It's not very encouraging is it? I've self-published two books but as I am now retired my third one - 3/4 through and another sequel - doesn't look as though it will be - it costs to self-publish and unless someone can see the gold in the dross (that is, if it is there!) many a writer will fall by the wayside. Oh well, I shall keep lugging my wares around Sussex and see what happens!
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