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Old 24th June 2007, 03:07 AM   #46 (permalink)
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Re: Advice about approaching agents!

I am not against agents or dislike the ones I know. Well, a couple. I generally find them more congenial than writers, actually.

I am against certain business policies and mindless furtherance of those policies by magazines and forum posters.

But mostly, if you look... I just laid out the way I do things.
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Old 24th June 2007, 03:20 AM   #47 (permalink)
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Re: Advice about approaching agents!

Let me add, Dustinzgirl: it's pretty tough for an agent to screw a writer. (The other way around has proven tough, as well :-)

A lot of my underlying attitude here is actually formed by publishers and editors who CAN and DO screw writers out of our earnings. And my attitude about backing up people writers deal with against the interests of the writers themselves has been hardened by my experience as a freelancer.

I'm not a novelist with a day job. I've made my living writing for decades, except for a few sabbaticals into the Desperado industries. It's unreal what you put up with. Well, I don't generally put up with it: but I've found that everytime I throw an editor down a stairs (Seattle) or stalk them into a coffee house (San Diego) to get paid I end up losing a client. No big...what good are clients who stiff you?

Having attempted to reject my lifelong career of violence in recent years, I now end up having to go to courts. I haven't lost a case yet, but that's partly because of what I learned earlier in the field and partly because the people were so arrogant, they literarlly did not realize that if you promise to pay somebody for doing work you have to pay them for it, like a plumber or mechanic.

There are so many shitty conventions in writing that other professions would no accept. Pay on publication. How many people not only are told to do their work then wait six months for the money...if the mag is still in business by then? Yet writers mags not only accept this, they tell writers not to have a problem with it. And you'd find writers right on this board who would defend that messed-up practice.

What I notice is that more experienced at the writing business a writer is, the more they tend to agree with me on these matters and even congratulate me for taking stands on them instead of cringing away and taking abuse in hopes of future sales. It's generally people who pick this stuff up from magazines and books who have a problem with it because it threatens what they are learning. Or something. Freakin' collaborators... :-)

Anyway, my idea is that writers should get paid for their work, that be treated in a businesslike fashion, and that they be idolized and sexually pursued like rock stars. Got a problem with that?
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Old 24th June 2007, 08:32 AM   #48 (permalink)
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Re: Advice about approaching agents!

I suspect everyone reading this thread can, as Teresa said, make their own minds up...
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Old 24th June 2007, 08:49 AM   #49 (permalink)
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Re: Advice about approaching agents!

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Jarrold View Post
I suspect everyone reading this thread can, as Teresa said, make their own minds up...
I agree with that hope, and I'll add that I hope everyone reading this thread realizes that this is a friendly discussion of varying opinions and methods, not a strict definition or process or instruction. It is mainly opinion.

And, I hope I have a beautiful, perfect, fully written novel magically appear on my desk.............nope. Shoot.

(sorry, just lightening up the mood. Boy, some of you need to meet my friend, Chamomile Tea, and then post.....)

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Old 24th June 2007, 10:37 AM   #50 (permalink)
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Re: Advice about approaching agents!

A couple of interesting points come up in this thread:

1. Any industry that doesn't require formal qualifications to enter it will always be polarised between the reputable practioners and those out to make a quick buck at the expense of clients.

Because the writing industry is very much in this category, writers always need to ensure they can research who the reputable practioners are, and target that layer of the industry.

2. Business is business, and there are rules of the game as to what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.

If a writer is serious about being published by serious market players, they have to accept the rules of that game and work within those rules professionally.


Of course, writers don't have to play by the established rules of the game if they don't want to - but anyone who actively attempts to limit their options from the start is hurting only themselves.

2c.
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Old 24th June 2007, 11:22 AM   #51 (permalink)
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Re: Advice about approaching agents!

Yeah, we all have rules in mainstream publishing. As we've all agreed here, there are alternatives and anyone who doesn't like commercial publishing now has more outlets for their work than ever before.

Lin mentioned payment on publication. In general, the payment for a novel will be split - either half on signature of the contract and half on publication for a paperback original, or into smaller percentages if there is also a hardback, or in the case of a multi-book contract, where only the first book has been delivered (though there will be an advance paid on signature of the contract for each book that has been acquired). Most books are published twelve months - in some cases more than that - after delivery. During that time the editor works on the book with the author, and hires a copy-editor and proof-reader; the art department spends time coming up with a cover, after the initial design briefing and meeting, which will decide on which artist to use, or if they want a 'designed' cover, rather than artwork; the sales and marketing team talk to the bookselling trade about the book; and a number of other parts of the publishing company will be working on the title. So basically, publishers don't want to have the full advance paid out before they make anything back for that effort. Financial directors looking to balance the books aren't going to let that happen!

Last edited by John Jarrold; 24th June 2007 at 11:58 AM.
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Old 24th June 2007, 04:54 PM   #52 (permalink)
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Re: Advice about approaching agents!

My reference on pay on publication was to periodicals, not novels. Sorry I didn't make that clear. Perhaps it's a phrase that's less immediately recognizable among English writers than in the Americas.

It's been suggested that my remarks here have been taken as applied to posting individuals. I have a hard time understanding that interpretation could have been made, but hasten to assure that unless you are some agent or editor reader I've dealt with in the past (unlikely) that my comments are directed towards industry practices at the expense of writers and artists, not any individual on this board.
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Old 24th June 2007, 05:01 PM   #53 (permalink)
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Re: Advice about approaching agents!

It's also suggested that my comments on having had to physically force people to pay up would "encourage" readers to be violent themselves. I find this shocking and perhaps have mis-estimated the degree of impressionability of readers here. My assumption was somewhat like the idea put forth here:
Quote:
I suspect everyone reading this thread can, as Teresa said, make their own minds up.


Let me say that if anyone feels influenced toward thrashing somebody who stiff you for payment that you consider other methods. Write to me and perhaps I can direct you to some of the support groups and reading that have helped me toward coming to grips with harming and killing people in my own affairs.
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Old 24th June 2007, 05:08 PM   #54 (permalink)
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Re: Advice about approaching agents!

Quote:
anyone who actively attempts to limit their options from the start is hurting only themselves.
I agree completely. It's one thing I'm trying to get across here. Don't accept the limitation: take initiative in creating a business situation you can live with. Just like in real life.
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Old 10th July 2007, 06:26 PM   #55 (permalink)
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Re: Advice about approaching agents!

Caroline Sheldon has a 10 pet hates list on her website that probably hold true for other agents, and might be useful to know when submitting:

Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency—Books, film and television
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