Category Archives: Agents

A Blog Post to Give Comfort in Rough Times, and a Few More Links

I also found out about a website that has various posts by pro writers (such as David Morrell) about the publishing industry.  It’s called Backspace – The Writer’s Place.

Another great resource is the NINC blog. Members of NINC have to be multi-published in order to join, so I find the information and blogs professional in tone and attitude.

Also, there’s Bob Mayer’s blog. He has 20 years of experience as a fiction writer in traditional publishing, and 2 years of experience doing indie publishing, so I find his posts have a lot of depth to them.

I am NOT a Literary Agent

I am NOT a literary agent or editor at a publishing house.  Don’t query me or send me copies of unpublished manuscripts.  I will have to destroy them unread.  I hate doing that, but it has to be done for privacy reasons–sending stuff to me is like sending your medical records to a complete stranger out of the phone book.  Don’t do it!

Going Beneath the Waves as Fiction Writers

Fiction writers are like ocean divers.   The watery depths run deep and dangerous, the pressures are intense, the hazards myriad.   And there is no guarantee of anything being found of interest to those on shore.  However, the silence and mystery of exploration itself becomes addictive to the writer.  One eagerly awaits the next plunge into the depths.

Agents and editors are back on the boat, hoping you’re going to resurface with a pearl or a find a sunken galleon.  But they don’t go beneath the water themselves (unless they also write or have written fiction for publication).  So the deep ocean is this mysterious place that they never actually experience or have to survive in.

Their boats tend to cluster around places that are well-known and feel safe and predictable.   No “Here be dragons.”   This is to be expected.  Publishing is a business, not a scientific endeavor.

So at times there’s a culture clash–what a writer needs to survive as a “diver” over the decades is different from what those in the boats and on shore need.   Different personality, different set of skills.   That’s why the advice of fiction writers who’ve survived in the business for decades can be invaluable–they’ve been in the depths as well, have known many writers over the years, have learned how to survive.   And they’re sympathetic to just how addictive those oceanic depths can be.

Jim C. Hines’ Terrific Survey on How Novelists Broke In

Writer Jim C. Hines has done a very helpful survey of 246 novelists to explore the following questions:

1) Do you have to sell short stories first to sell a novel?

2) Is self-publishing the way to go to sell a first novel to a publisher?

3) Are most first sales of a novel an overnight success story?

4) Do you have to have personal connections to the publishing industry to sell a first novel?

I’m not going to tell what the answers are, because I think it’s important to visit Jim’s website to read his detailed answers and analysis there.

Here’s what Jim says on his website about his survey:

For this study, I was looking for authors who had published at least one professional novel, where “professional” was defined as earning an advance of $2000 or more.  This is an arbitrary amount based on SFWA’s criteria for professional publishers.  No judgment is implied toward authors who self-publish or work with smaller presses, but for this study, I wanted data on breaking in with the larger publishers.

247 authors from a range of genres responded.  One was eliminated because the book didn’t fit the criteria (it was for a nonfiction title).  A random audit found no other problems.

The first part of the survey is Novel Survey Results, Part 1 (answers questions 1 & 2).   Second part has just been posted today as Novel Survey Results, Part 2 (answering questions 3 & 4).  There will be a third part next week.

Pushcart’s COMPLETE ROTTEN REVIEWS AND REJECTIONS

I think what I love most about Pushcart’s COMPLETE ROTTEN REVIEWS AND REJECTIONS, edited by Bill Henderson & Andre Bernard, is that it lifts the veil of mystery between writers and the publishing world, and shows us just how human we are all are despite our attempts to become omniscient.   Mistakes get made.  Critics and editors get cranky and misunderstand an important book.  Writers insult other writers.

Any writer who is feeling timorous about submitting his or her work should consider reading this book.  Reading the nasty reviews and rejections other writers have received was an excellent antidote for self-pity.  The book also provides a peek into history, since Bill Henderson made an effort to include rotten reviews going as far back as 411 BC.

I don’t want to spoil the fun of what is inside, so instead I’ll quote from the back cover:

Alice in Wonderland was greeted with “a stiff overwrought story.”  Reviews of Moby Dick cited Melville for “tragic-comic bubble and squeak.”  Classic rejection slips were delivered to John Le Carre’s The Spy Who Came In from the Cold: “You’re welcome to Le Carre–he hasn’t got any future,” and Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita: “I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years,”…

My one gripe is that the book has no index, and since the excerpts are not arranged chronologically or alphabetically, I have to randomly flip around to find the author or quote I’m looking for.

This book combines the three separate Pushcart editions of ROTTEN REVIEWS, ROTTEN REVIEWS II, and ROTTEN REJECTIONS.  So you’re getting three books for the price of one.  A great bargain.