Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Dreaded Agent Search

"I get up in the morning, torture a typewriter until it screams, then stop." ~Clarence Budington Kelland

Well, it's arrived: the moment I admit that I'm entering the agent search once again. OK, maybe I'm just temporarily entertaining the thought, but it's there.

See, I've gone through the whole agent query thing before, with 3 other novels. It was interesting, and I learned quite a bit, but ultimately once I realized I could sell to Samhain and Wild Rose Press, I devoted my efforts to learning about the editing and marketing processes.

And I did.

So with Summer's Song, I'm thinking maybe I'll float it out there to a few agents and see if any bite. I'd like to think that some publishing credits might help me out now, but who knows? I spent some time yesterday perusing sites, and it's a tough market out there, no doubt.

By the way, two sites I would recommend, to anyone else in the market for an agent, are The Passionate Pen (she's a private author but hosts a FANTASTIC, regularly updated list of agents and publishers who take romance/women's lit) and Agent Query.

Something to think about, though: you really have to know why you want an agent. To break your manuscript into the big houses? To help you set up a marketing plan? To focus your long-range career plans? I looked at some agents who've sold novels to electronic/print pubs. I saw a Samhain author listed as a client at one agent's site! No offense, but I can do that by myself. And they take 15% of your profits, so you really have to make sure they're making you $$ you couldn't make on your own.

I ran across one agent, though, who's decided he wants to rejuvenate the romance industry. His lists of "Wants" and "Don't Wants" are pretty specific. The latter include Inspirationals, Erotica, YA, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Futuristic, E-Pubs, Literary Fiction, Stories with "Romantic Elements," Non-fiction, Poetry, E-Pubs.

And yet he's an agent who reps romance? Um, OK, even though electronic publishers are one of the fastest-growing areas in the romance industry. Probably a good idea to list not once but twice that you don't want anything to do with them.

Oh, and he also makes clear that last time he read over RITA and Golden Heart entries, he had this to say: "I recently had the chance to review both Golden Heart and RITA manuscripts. I have to say, I was shocked. If someone was really looking at the story, they would realize the writing was far from good. Frankly, if I had to give them a grade, I would have been giving a lot of C's and D-'s.

Stories read like comic books. Characters were stereotypical. This list was endless.

But here is the thing. These books all had "those great techniques" that have been proclaimed as being the end all be all of writing.

In the end. Did it make the story better. No.

So, please writers. If we really want to see the romance and women's fiction industry make some significant improvements, then let's work on writing (and publishing) the GREAT story and not just the stories with gimmicks."


There's a lot of the same kind of attitude on every page and document on his website. Suffice to say I did not put him on my "Submit To" list.

We'll see what I decide...I'll keep you posted...

7 comments:

Marianne Arkins said...

I have to admit, one of my big fears when I was agent-searching last year was that I'd get one who would sub me to the ePresses. Like you said, I can do that. I want one who will sub me to the print presses who won't accept un-agented submissions.

Good luck to you!

Diane Craver said...

I saw the same thing where a couple of agents represent clients published by E-publishers. I've done that, too, without an agent. I'm hoping with 3 books published by Samhain will help me to get an agent. I was excited when two top-notch agents requested partials in Dec. but I'm still waiting.

Also you don't need an agent for category romance.

Good luck with your agent search.

windycindy said...

Good luck with your agent search!
Cindi
jchoppes[at]hotmail[dot]com

Mel said...

For e-pubs no you don't need an agent and I don't understand why you would give yourself that headache. But for BIG NY houses then yes and to me that includes the holy grail of category. They do give you an advance and so I would want an agent to make sure I get the best deal I can.

Getting an agent is on my to-do list for this year and can I say it scares the crap out of me. There is a lot to think about and things you have to know before you start your search. I have to agree Agent Query is a wonderful site.

Diane Craver said...

Well, I think an agent can be helpful in getting contracts for category romances. I just know I have several friends without agents and they've had several HQ books published. They are going to look for agents when they write single title. I have seen many agents listing authors with category romances though.

Dru said...

Good luck with your agent search.

Sarita Leone said...

I hope this works out well for you. :)