Is this a joke?? Nathan? Really?

New member introductions, suggestions for the Forums, questions about posting, and important announcements.
User avatar
Mira
Posts: 1354
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 9:59 am
Contact:

Re: Is this a joke?? Nathan? Really?

Post by Mira » November 11th, 2010, 4:19 pm

J. T. SHEA wrote: Many thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings with your fellow Bransforumites, Mira!
J.T., thank you. That's really sweet of you. :) and I was only half joking on the Nook/Kindle thread myself. :)

User avatar
Mira
Posts: 1354
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 9:59 am
Contact:

Re: Is this a joke?? Nathan? Really?

Post by Mira » November 11th, 2010, 4:39 pm

Nathan Bransford wrote: You know, I have to say (and I plan on blogging about this), one of the strangest things about being an agent was that on the one hand you're the repository of so many hopes and dreams and so many people out there want you to make their dreams come true. And then on the other hand you're going through the day to day grind of trying so hard (and not always succeeding) of selling the projects that are the few that you believe the most in. So you start feeling like, man, all these people are out there with their manuscripts and hopes, and yet it's so unbelievably hard just to sell the couple I've decided to take on.

I felt that disconnect very very keenly. So I do know what you mean, but at the same time I have to say that I'm relieved to be out from under that glare. Not only because it's a lot of pressure being the custodian of those dreams, but there's also quite a bit of unreality to the whole thing. There's no way I or any other agent could make every single person's dream come true, especially when there's not a whole lot of pixie dust going around these days.
Nathan, wow, that does sound surreal. And frustrating! What you wrote made me wonder if agents are at high risk for burn-out. Pressed between writers and publishers, while their commission is dependent on being able to sell, that's intense. I imagine that unless you've really been there, it would be difficult to completely understand the pressures. I'm happy and relieved for you that you're out from under that.

I suspect that you were under much more pressure than the usual agent. Not just the sheer number of people putting their hopes and dreams in your corner, but the nature of those dreams. When I said a fantasy has passed for me, I meant it. Even if you had at some distant point become my agent, my real true fantasy would never have been realized. This is hard to admit, but I realized this week that maybe 50% of my fantasy was about getting my book published and represented by you, and the other 50% was about how my world would magically change if YOU were my agent. You would be the advocate I had always dreamed of - guide, mentor, cheerleader - not just for writing, but for everything. You're just so darn appealing, Nathan. Who wouldn't want a Nathan in their corner? :) And I wonder if I'm the only one who felt that way, and suspect I'm not. So it's possible you were under not just the usual pressure, but were gathering yearnings directed at you for much deeper, more personal reasons. That's a lot.

I'm sorry, Nathan, if I added to that pressure. I suspect I did, and I'm sorry.

So, see? Now I'm the one that sucks!

................Nathan, I'm glad for you that you made the change, if that's what you wanted. Sometimes, you can get so boxed in, you can't really move or accomplish what you want to. Fresh air is a very good thing.

Thanks.

User avatar
Nathan Bransford
Posts: 1380
Joined: December 4th, 2009, 11:17 pm
Location: New York, NY
Contact:

Re: Is this a joke?? Nathan? Really?

Post by Nathan Bransford » November 11th, 2010, 11:24 pm

Mira wrote:
Nathan Bransford wrote: You know, I have to say (and I plan on blogging about this), one of the strangest things about being an agent was that on the one hand you're the repository of so many hopes and dreams and so many people out there want you to make their dreams come true. And then on the other hand you're going through the day to day grind of trying so hard (and not always succeeding) of selling the projects that are the few that you believe the most in. So you start feeling like, man, all these people are out there with their manuscripts and hopes, and yet it's so unbelievably hard just to sell the couple I've decided to take on.

I felt that disconnect very very keenly. So I do know what you mean, but at the same time I have to say that I'm relieved to be out from under that glare. Not only because it's a lot of pressure being the custodian of those dreams, but there's also quite a bit of unreality to the whole thing. There's no way I or any other agent could make every single person's dream come true, especially when there's not a whole lot of pixie dust going around these days.
Nathan, wow, that does sound surreal. And frustrating! What you wrote made me wonder if agents are at high risk for burn-out. Pressed between writers and publishers, while their commission is dependent on being able to sell, that's intense. I imagine that unless you've really been there, it would be difficult to completely understand the pressures. I'm happy and relieved for you that you're out from under that.

I suspect that you were under much more pressure than the usual agent. Not just the sheer number of people putting their hopes and dreams in your corner, but the nature of those dreams. When I said a fantasy has passed for me, I meant it. Even if you had at some distant point become my agent, my real true fantasy would never have been realized. This is hard to admit, but I realized this week that maybe 50% of my fantasy was about getting my book published and represented by you, and the other 50% was about how my world would magically change if YOU were my agent. You would be the advocate I had always dreamed of - guide, mentor, cheerleader - not just for writing, but for everything. You're just so darn appealing, Nathan. Who wouldn't want a Nathan in their corner? :) And I wonder if I'm the only one who felt that way, and suspect I'm not. So it's possible you were under not just the usual pressure, but were gathering yearnings directed at you for much deeper, more personal reasons. That's a lot.

I'm sorry, Nathan, if I added to that pressure. I suspect I did, and I'm sorry.

So, see? Now I'm the one that sucks!

................Nathan, I'm glad for you that you made the change, if that's what you wanted. Sometimes, you can get so boxed in, you can't really move or accomplish what you want to. Fresh air is a very good thing.

Thanks.
I wouldn't characterize myself as having been burned out, but I do think writers should try to be empathetic with agents. However frustrated writers are with the state of the business and how difficult things are, agents are feeling that very keenly as well, perhaps even more keenly because it's our career and there's not always a fallback plan. I think that in the grind of trying to find an agent there's kind of a stopping place of empathy sometimes where writers don't imagine the part where agents are working extremely hard and trying to do their best in a tough business. Fairy godmothers we are not! (Except when everything comes together just just just so). That's not to say that agents are always uniformly sympathetic about the unpublished, but more empathy all around would be good.

And I appreciate your kind words - I wouldn't say that people's sentiments created more pressure, but it's more that I was a bit uncomfortable with the unreality of it. I knew that I couldn't make everyone's dreams come true, and yet that's also not what people want to hear on the blog. My "keeping it real" posts were always my least popular. I always made sure to post them regularly all the same! Dreams are important, but so is not getting carried away.

wildheart
Posts: 89
Joined: March 15th, 2010, 1:28 am
Contact:

Re: Is this a joke?? Nathan? Really?

Post by wildheart » November 12th, 2010, 11:19 am

I was sad when I heard about you leaving publishing Nathan. I think we all were. But you gotta do what makes YOU happy, and if that means taking your career in another direction I am glad that's what you did:(

Will you continue writing Jacob Wonderbar?
http://wildheart90.blogspot.com/
A mother. A writer. A dreamer.

User avatar
Mira
Posts: 1354
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 9:59 am
Contact:

Re: Is this a joke?? Nathan? Really?

Post by Mira » November 12th, 2010, 11:29 am

Nathan Bransford wrote:I wouldn't characterize myself as having been burned out, but I do think writers should try to be empathetic with agents. However frustrated writers are with the state of the business and how difficult things are, agents are feeling that very keenly as well, perhaps even more keenly because it's our career and there's not always a fallback plan. I think that in the grind of trying to find an agent there's kind of a stopping place of empathy sometimes where writers don't imagine the part where agents are working extremely hard and trying to do their best in a tough business. Fairy godmothers we are not! (Except when everything comes together just just just so). That's not to say that agents are always uniformly sympathetic about the unpublished, but more empathy all around would be good.
More empathy all around would be wonderful. And I do think writers forget agents have high stakes here, in that their livelihood is involved. That's a good point. Posts like these are very helpful for increased understanding.

But......although I agree that more empathy would be great, I see some daunting blocks to that.....I think much of the tension between agent/writer is system related and might be difficult to shift without shifting the system......but I don't want be negative - fostering understanding both ways would be a very good thing, and I support you in that!
Nathan Bransford wrote: Dreams are important, but so is not getting carried away.
Very true.

I'm glad to hear and relieved I didn't create more pressure. That's very good.

Edit: Don't know if you read this, but I took this section down. I decided if I was coming back to edit it AGAIN, it wasn't ready for prime time , or was off in some way.

Thank you for the conversation, Nathan. I really appreciate the opportunity to talk this out.
Last edited by Mira on November 12th, 2010, 2:24 pm, edited 7 times in total.

Steppe
Posts: 122
Joined: February 12th, 2010, 7:34 pm
Contact:

Re: Is this a joke?? Nathan? Really?

Post by Steppe » November 12th, 2010, 12:16 pm

A lot of the knowledge Nathan gained is permanently illustrated in synopsis form on the home page's left side. The forums and blog serve as a good 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th home page for anyone looking for a glimmer of predictability in their online experience.

The part that was tough to fathom when looking at publishing was the combination of business manager as financial expertise and hard sell agent debonair man about town unleashing his top secret hard sell strategy. In the music business those functions are fire walled and agents and promoters of local regional and national stature are one distinct organizational structure; with business managers and personal managers and road managers a separate hierarchy.

The real money in music was always on the road.
In books the serious money seems to be in the movie rights.

I think small town clarity and small town ethics coupled to your organizational and presentation skills should keep you afloat fairly safely.
I notice in many media formats a back to roots movement as complexity was killing the product and the genuine quality of simple effectiveness got lost somewhere.

To expand that theme into an essay would be; "The Death of Cleverness."
I see it as a cultural theme as excess capacity is converted back into raw materials.

To gently appeal to Mira's sensibilities:

"The kid sold out. Built himself one of those massive cyber platform's thingamajigs and leaped across the information super highway in one bold stroke of a pen on a
contract.The technocratic equivalent of eight years in a monastery writing out a copy of The Peter Principle using blood and papyrus only to hand it to someone who
scans it into a digital archive and gives it a anonymous number. Oh woe unto the world of books and the sacred rivers of knowledge bound up in their old school
spines." From: Tales of The Cigar Smoking Wannabee Novelist.

I got my form rejection out of the way very quick so I could kick back and learn.
Maybe not the worst query and full manuscript to drop out of the sky but in the top 1000 for sure.
I was bound and determined to get my first rejection and it was good to get it out of the way.

I have my one, three and ten to twelve sentence pitches petty much finalized, I'll post them soon.
The old place was grateful for Nathan's hard work, just like the new place shall be as they fight the ongoing daily battle against the glut of froth that can become cyber clutter. He has proven talent at that.
Hopefully by the time I'm ready to be published quality wise I'll have at least fifty rejections and fit in nicely to the shrinking club of the published novelist.

Thanks Nathan
Arthur

User avatar
OtherLisa
Posts: 28
Joined: December 8th, 2009, 9:19 am
Location: The Beach, So. Cal.
Contact:

Re: Is this a joke?? Nathan? Really?

Post by OtherLisa » November 12th, 2010, 3:08 pm

Hiya! Well, I for one have so much of an appreciation of how hard this business is and how hard it is for everyone, agents in particular because they are smack in the middle of the stress, between authors and publishers.

I've tried to talk about it, a little, without sounding like I'm whining (and I'm sure I haven't succeeded there) what the reality of getting published is like—wonderful to be sure but it brings a whole new set of challenges. It's a journey, not a destination, and all that.

Not sure what I'm getting at here that's germane to the topic, but I think of how intense the whole process was for me, and I multiply that in my head by a bunch of other clients, and...yeah, I think being an agent would be really tough at times.

User avatar
abc
Posts: 168
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 10:15 pm
Contact:

Re: Is this a joke?? Nathan? Really?

Post by abc » November 12th, 2010, 10:29 pm

I've been reading the Nathan Bransford blog for a long time and I don't think he ever wrote about why he got into the agent business. Did he? Perhaps he did, but I don't remember. I'm curious about that. Why do some of us try to be writers, some editors, some agents, etc.? Obviously plenty of folks do all of the above, but do agents usually fall into their professional sorta accidentally because they love books and writing and they just want to be part of that experience? Or is it the lure of being your own boss (sorta)? Do editors love power? I don't know. I'm just wondering. I could never be an agent. I have call reluctance.

User avatar
J. T. SHEA
Moderator
Posts: 492
Joined: May 20th, 2010, 1:55 pm
Location: IRELAND
Contact:

Re: Is this a joke?? Nathan? Really?

Post by J. T. SHEA » November 13th, 2010, 1:18 am

Repository and custodian of hopes and dreams indeed, Nathan! Regarding pixie dust and the publishing industry, I could quote statistics suggesting things are not as bad as people think (like I did commenting on your blog today!). But how things feel is a different matter and I am well aware of the old saying about lies, damned lies, and statistics.

'More empathy all round would be good.' Amen! In publishing and elsewhere. '...a stopping place of empathy where writers don't imagine...' Unfortunately yes, and a failure of imagination is a serious fault in a writer. Writers do sometimes scapegoat agents, seeing them as disdainful threshold guardians, casually granting or refusing entry into a publishing paradise. Yet not all agents enter that paradise themselves, or flourish there. They cannot rest on their laurels any more than authors can.

Dreams are indeed important, and everyone, not just writers, constantly both dreams and balances those dreams against reality. Bargains with reality, as it were. Perhaps we do not hear enough of the dreams and disappointments of agents.

Like romance, publishing produces reversible situations. Agents want to find books they can love and help publish, but they have to play hard-to-get to survive. Agents make nothing out of rejecting queries. It's like kissing the proverbial frogs to get to one's prince. But then the agent has to convince publishers it really is a prince!

We are continually reminded most authors are not bestsellers. Do most agents have bestselling clients? I doubt it.

I am reminded of the old story of the two tramps sitting on a park bench:-

'I live on the fresh air of spring, the sunshine of summer, the leaves of fall, the snows of winter, raindrops and birdsong,' says Tramp A.

'What my friend just described?' says Tramp B. 'I live on fifteen percent of that.'

Guess which tramp is the writer and which the agent...

rose
Posts: 118
Joined: December 6th, 2009, 2:23 pm
Contact:

Re: Is this a joke?? Nathan? Really?

Post by rose » November 13th, 2010, 11:03 am

Okay, I've finished sulking now--see, Mia, I'm much worse than you!-- and I am ready to join the conversation again.

I hope you have time to hang out with us for a while, Nathan. Anytime you feel like starting a new thread and telling us what a Social Networking Guru does, I would like to read it. I love that you have a job title that wasn't even created when you were in college. (And they tried to tell us there was no future for folks with Liberal Arts degrees!)

Good luck, and thanks for all you've done. If you decide you miss the biz, I'm claiming the number one place in your new query line.

rose
Follow my work at Smashwords:

Riders on the Rez http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/35697
The Good-Bye Man

epcaldwell
Posts: 9
Joined: May 22nd, 2010, 4:41 pm
Contact:

Re: Is this a joke?? Nathan? Really?

Post by epcaldwell » November 13th, 2010, 1:35 pm

Blast! Just as I was ready to query my dream agent,you leave the world of agents.OH Well! I cannot even imagine how difficult that job must have been. I wish you well and hope you will find your new,perhaps a bit less stressful. I say farewell and leave you with one of my favorite quotes you will recognize.To paraphrase" Keep butt in chair and write!" Good Luck.

User avatar
Mira
Posts: 1354
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 9:59 am
Contact:

Re: Is this a joke?? Nathan? Really?

Post by Mira » November 13th, 2010, 2:58 pm

Nathan - re the part I took out - if you read it - I'm rather confused on this topic, and my perspective is not really trustworthy. Probably best to ignore me. Probably don't need to say that, but just in case.

Okey dokey.

bcomet
Posts: 588
Joined: January 23rd, 2010, 2:11 pm
Contact:

Re: Is this a joke?? Nathan? Really?

Post by bcomet » November 13th, 2010, 3:27 pm

Nathan,
If you'd care to share, what exactly will you be doing in your new job and position?

User avatar
Nathan Bransford
Posts: 1380
Joined: December 4th, 2009, 11:17 pm
Location: New York, NY
Contact:

Re: Is this a joke?? Nathan? Really?

Post by Nathan Bransford » November 13th, 2010, 8:57 pm

wildheart wrote:I was sad when I heard about you leaving publishing Nathan. I think we all were. But you gotta do what makes YOU happy, and if that means taking your career in another direction I am glad that's what you did:(

Will you continue writing Jacob Wonderbar?
Yes, I'm working on Jacob Wonderbar #2 at the moment, so space adventures will live on!

User avatar
Nathan Bransford
Posts: 1380
Joined: December 4th, 2009, 11:17 pm
Location: New York, NY
Contact:

Re: Is this a joke?? Nathan? Really?

Post by Nathan Bransford » November 13th, 2010, 9:00 pm

abc wrote:I've been reading the Nathan Bransford blog for a long time and I don't think he ever wrote about why he got into the agent business. Did he? Perhaps he did, but I don't remember. I'm curious about that. Why do some of us try to be writers, some editors, some agents, etc.? Obviously plenty of folks do all of the above, but do agents usually fall into their professional sorta accidentally because they love books and writing and they just want to be part of that experience? Or is it the lure of being your own boss (sorta)? Do editors love power? I don't know. I'm just wondering. I could never be an agent. I have call reluctance.
I had wanted to work in publishing when I graduated from college and was really fortunate to land a job at Curtis Brown Ltd. I really just wanted to be involved in the world of books, and agenting offered a great combination of working directly with authors and trying to get books from idea to shelf. I still really love books, that hasn't changed at all.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest