Agenting needs to evolve

News, trends, and the future of publishing
Margo
Posts: 1712
Joined: April 5th, 2010, 11:21 am
Contact:

Re: Agenting needs to evolve

Post by Margo » August 19th, 2010, 2:28 pm

knight_tour wrote:'Doing something right' is no different to me than saying to a chess player that there is no reason to push harder because they have already achieved a master title, when in fact if I did keep pushing that player he or she could become an elite grandmaster.
So, since we have nothing so measurable as winning a game or clocking a certain speed or running a certain distance, what makes a grandmaster of writing?

And how has it been decided that the authors we have 'settled' for today are just good and not great?
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

Margo
Posts: 1712
Joined: April 5th, 2010, 11:21 am
Contact:

Re: Agenting needs to evolve

Post by Margo » August 19th, 2010, 2:31 pm

polymath wrote:For example, my developmental editing rate, $0.35 to $1.00 per word. It's a test of determination not an absolute price. It's negotiable. A writer willing to pay that amount either doesn't need the help and is already there, so wouldn't be that much of an expensive burden (emotionally and temporally and monetarily), or has more money than writing sense and I would earn it by ghost writing the manuscript in the first place, and in a predictably contentious relationship too. Besides, a writer with that kind of money to throw around can afford to buy an approving audience and doesn't really want a mentor anyway.

Establish a congenial working rapport, discount.
Demonstrate a manageable facility with structure or aesthetics, discount.
Demonstrate determination, discount.
Demonstrate improvement, discount.
Demonstrate self-reliance, discount.
Recognize and acknowledge deficiencies, discount.
Know and demonstrate knowing it's an open-minded exchange of ideas process, discount.
Hmm, right, right... Carry the one.... Multiple by..... Hm-mmm...

By my calculations, if I wanted to hire you as an editor, I would need to pay you $675.29/word. :)
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

User avatar
polymath
Posts: 1821
Joined: December 8th, 2009, 11:22 am
Location: Babel
Contact:

Re: Agenting needs to evolve

Post by polymath » August 19th, 2010, 3:15 pm

I'd look at, say, a few hundred opening words for free for you, Margo. I've got too much bread and butter work to consider taking on much more. However, my developmental editing apprenticeship nearly done, I'm prospecting for a suitable jouneyperson project to test and demonstrate my proficiency on. Discount.
Spread the love of written word.

Margo
Posts: 1712
Joined: April 5th, 2010, 11:21 am
Contact:

Re: Agenting needs to evolve

Post by Margo » August 19th, 2010, 3:41 pm

Wow, that's an extremely generous and much appreciated offer, polymath. On the occasion that I actually do have a few hundred words to offer, I would certainly love to see if your workload would allow me to cash in a raincheck.

(Right now I'm still in project development on the novel while attempting to wrestle two short stories into submission, and they're winning. I am currently typing one-handed while held immobile in a pretzel position and shall probably succumb at any moment to the overpowering stink of sweaty gymnasium.)
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

User avatar
knight_tour
Posts: 161
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 2:30 pm
Location: Baku, Azerbaijan
Contact:

Re: Agenting needs to evolve

Post by knight_tour » August 20th, 2010, 12:45 am

Margo wrote:
knight_tour wrote:'Doing something right' is no different to me than saying to a chess player that there is no reason to push harder because they have already achieved a master title, when in fact if I did keep pushing that player he or she could become an elite grandmaster.
So, since we have nothing so measurable as winning a game or clocking a certain speed or running a certain distance, what makes a grandmaster of writing?

And how has it been decided that the authors we have 'settled' for today are just good and not great?
Margo, it is based upon an examination of any and all arts. Those who completely self-teach only ever achieve certain levels (even if that can be quite good), while those who are pushed/trained/mentored go further in all arts.

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

Re: Agenting needs to evolve

Post by Mira » August 20th, 2010, 9:55 am

knight_tour wrote:
Margo wrote:
knight_tour wrote:'Doing something right' is no different to me than saying to a chess player that there is no reason to push harder because they have already achieved a master title, when in fact if I did keep pushing that player he or she could become an elite grandmaster.
So, since we have nothing so measurable as winning a game or clocking a certain speed or running a certain distance, what makes a grandmaster of writing?

And how has it been decided that the authors we have 'settled' for today are just good and not great?
Margo, it is based upon an examination of any and all arts. Those who completely self-teach only ever achieve certain levels (even if that can be quite good), while those who are pushed/trained/mentored go further in all arts.
Knight Tour, I'm sorry but I really don't agree with that, and frankly, I hope you don't really either. Although mentoring can help, many many people never receive it - all over the arts. Talent has a great deal to do with this as well as life experiences. There are lists and lists of brilliant artists that never recieved any training.

And even in the arts where mentoring is more available, it's still expensive. Most of the time, it's an exchange between a student and an experienced teacher that the student pays for. I think the idea that people with talent are scooped up out of the blue and nurtured in any of the arts just really doesn't happen. Most of the time, the student seeks the teacher.

I wish mentoring were more available in writing, but there is still a huge assortment of resources available to any writer who wants to further their talent. We're very lucky. In many countries, aspiring writers truly have to go it alone.

Last point - Mentors tend to not be professionals within a field. They tend to be retired artists. So, even if there were more available mentors in writing, it probably wouldn't be agents, etc. filling that role, it would be experienced writers.

And mentoring is not the be all and end all. There are horror stories of mentors stealing talent, holding their pupils back, teaching them the wrong thing. There are many people in publishing that I would love to work with, but I'm sure there are many that I should really stay away from. Not everyone holds the ability to teach writing equally.

The bottom line is that we need to be responsible for our own talent. If we feel that we need a teacher, we should find one - the right one. If we believe that practice will help sharpen our skill, then we should practice. Or both. But to hold out for someone else to see our potential and nurture us is self-defeating. It would be nice if that would happen, but it's not essential to our growth as writers.

User avatar
knight_tour
Posts: 161
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 2:30 pm
Location: Baku, Azerbaijan
Contact:

Re: Agenting needs to evolve

Post by knight_tour » August 20th, 2010, 10:24 am

I never once suggested 'holding out' for a system to come along and help us. Naturally we are all going to plug along as best we can. But yes, I absolutely do believe that people progress further faster with help than on their own. I don't see how anyone could even doubt that.

Margo
Posts: 1712
Joined: April 5th, 2010, 11:21 am
Contact:

Re: Agenting needs to evolve

Post by Margo » August 20th, 2010, 10:50 am

knight_tour wrote:Margo, it is based upon an examination of any and all arts. Those who completely self-teach only ever achieve certain levels (even if that can be quite good), while those who are pushed/trained/mentored go further in all arts.
I gotta say, no disrespect intended, this sounds like your opinion (valid as any other), not a proven fact. If you have sources that have actually looked at this in a scientific way...and take into consideration the information revolution that has occured in the last couple of decades, I would really like to see them. I would be most interested in seeing how they established their values and controls.

An examination of the arts tells us who is great and who is not? I have always found greatness in the arts subjective. Is Jackson Pollack just good because I don't like his work? Is Picasso a hack because I can't stand his paintings? Is Caravaggio the best painter ever because I think he is? Well, yes, he is, but that's beside the point. Is good ol' J.R.R. (voted writer of the 20th century) good-but-not-great because I think his storytelling and world-building was first-rate but his actual prose not so much? Is greatness measured in sales? Awards? Or personal opinion? Because, frankly, some of the writers you think we're 'settling' for I probably read and adore, and vice versa. Some of the supposed greats do nothing for me, so what am I getting from that greatness?

Your other point is that mentored writers progress faster (and I tend to agree) and farther over their careers than those who have not been mentored. Really? Based on what data? Forty years ago, there was no internet, no web classes, no podcasts, making teaching large numbers of people over great distances much more economical and feasible. More people have access to information written (or spoken!) by published authors, editors, agents, and other struggling writers than would have been physically possible 30 years ago, 20 years ago. Blogging is a recent development, as history goes, and industry professionals are now making extensive use of it to teach struggling writers about craft and industry. What affect has that had on the mentor/no mentor development of a writer? How can you say that today's authors would have been better writers with one-on-one mentoring when the writers who started their careers in the information age are still alive and writing? They aren't dead yet, Jim. Don't write off their careers yet.

From personal experience I'll say this. I have been mentored by two published authors. One was very good. Still successful in her genre, still gets great reviews, still selling books. The other was a retired novelist. She was good with some things, but she hadn't kept up with the industry after retiring, and she didn't know the rules of any of the genres except the one she wrote in. Here's my point: I learned things from my favorite writing book that I never would have learned from either of these mentors, because one didn't know the concepts that are in that book (or any of the concepts in my top 3 writing books) and the other didn't know them consciously. She could never have taught them because she had not dissected the process the way the writer of that book had. Frankly, one of the writing books I own did more for revolutionizing the way I thought about writing and gave me more lightbulb moments than working one-on-one and in person with two novelists and with an agent over the phone.

I am not saying that the best writing book in the world is better than a good mentor, especially one in your genre. I am saying that the best tool for learning in person-specific. Some people need visual material while others need to work hands on. Some need to bury themselves in study and then approach a project. Others work better with a few key concepts in mind before diving in and tackling obstacles as they go. One person wants someone to watch over their progress and give regular feedback. Another needs people to keep their hands-off while they reinvent the wheel in their own way. You feel that mentoring is absolutely necessary for greatness; I think it's a handy way to expedite greatness (provided you find the right mentor for you) but not the crucial element in the process.

Good GAWD, I think I just agreed with Mira about a few things. I'm pretty sure that starts some kind of Armageddon clock running. ;P
Last edited by Margo on August 20th, 2010, 10:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

Margo
Posts: 1712
Joined: April 5th, 2010, 11:21 am
Contact:

Re: Agenting needs to evolve

Post by Margo » August 20th, 2010, 10:52 am

knight_tour wrote:I don't see how anyone could even doubt that.
Well, that's why it's your opinion. If you doubted it, it wouldn't be your opinion, right? However, I do doubt it (the further part, not the faster), which is why it's not my opinion.
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

User avatar
polymath
Posts: 1821
Joined: December 8th, 2009, 11:22 am
Location: Babel
Contact:

Re: Agenting needs to evolve

Post by polymath » August 20th, 2010, 11:51 am

knight_tour wrote:I never once suggested 'holding out' for a system to come along and help us. Naturally we are all going to plug along as best we can. But yes, I absolutely do believe that people progress further faster with help than on their own. I don't see how anyone could even doubt that.
Hemingway, self-taught with an in-service boost.
Faulkner, self-taught with a university boost and in-service.
Kerouac, self-taught with a university boost and in-service.
Rowling, self-taught with a university boost and in-service.
Meyer, self-taught with a university boost and in-service.
Tolkien, self-taught with a university boost and in-service.
Vonnegut, self-taught with a university boost and in-service.
Dickinson, self-taught with a university boost and in-service.

Hemingway and Faulkner mentored each other, who mentored who when caused a lot of their interpersonal strife. Their drunken brawling is the stuff of legend. Kerouac mentored and in turn was mentored by a gamut of contemporaries and predecessors. Kipling, Maugham, Joyce, to name a few who infuenced him. Dickinson was influenced by Transcendantalists, Thoreau and Whitman, but finding them unsuitable to her mien went a different direction. She also had Melville and Hawthorne for influences, Austen, Brontë sisters, etc.

The admonition for writers to read, read widely is both mentoring and mentorship. Literature study and response is a mentoring process. Writers writing about writing, from Aristotle to Zelazny, is mentoring. Writing workshops and retreats, online writing discussion venues, writers conferences, manuscript marts, etc., mentoring.

My writing experience began with a whole lot of reading, a little bit of education, and a lot of intution. It progressed into more reading, more education, and a world for investigating. I got lost in the abyss of plenty and lost my way, my passion, my enjoyment the farther I closed in on my goals. I found my own way back from the abyss by recognizing and distinguishing the many voices in my head as not mine, many who I disagree with as well as many who provided insights. I'm close to my own voice. No one can find it for me.

No one can be all things to anyone, certainly not to me. A snippet here and a barn-full gather there, a creative method, a term I can master for my own sake and make it mine, a path to blaze and a path to find the trail head and follow, that's what's out there to graze and choose from. If there were one person who could have made the journey easier, it's me. No one else. If I'd had a high school writing mentor, and I did in the person of an English teacher who was as able to mentor me as anyone and as unable as anyone, I'd send from now to my teenage self a recommended reading list for him to insist I devour. He'd have failed. I was not ready, willing, or able.

The mentoring community is broad and deep and multifaceted. A horse can be led to water, but it cannot be made to drink. Hereabouts, feral horses living free in the wild find water for themselves.
Spread the love of written word.

User avatar
knight_tour
Posts: 161
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 2:30 pm
Location: Baku, Azerbaijan
Contact:

Re: Agenting needs to evolve

Post by knight_tour » August 20th, 2010, 12:48 pm

Margo wrote:
knight_tour wrote:I don't see how anyone could even doubt that.
Well, that's why it's your opinion. If you doubted it, it wouldn't be your opinion, right? However, I do doubt it (the further part, not the faster), which is why it's not my opinion.
So, you believe that a person could have professionals offer them help and guidance and that person could learn absolutely nothing from them? That is the only way that you could be correct here. A person who even pays passing attention to a teacher will invariably learn something. A person who eagerly accepts training and pursues it rigorously can make tremendous advances that he or she couldn't make as quickly without such help. I used chess because it is the one art that lends itself to exact measurement. Certainly there are differences in each type of art, for instance writing relies more upon the need for life experience than chess does, so people can master chess at a far younger age than they can master writing. But, if you truly believe that training can be absolutely worthless as an aid to progress, then I don't see any logical reason to continue to debate the subject with you.

Down the well
Posts: 516
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 3:22 pm
Contact:

Re: Agenting needs to evolve

Post by Down the well » August 20th, 2010, 12:52 pm

polymath wrote:The admonition for writers to read, read widely is both mentoring and mentorship. Literature study and response is a mentoring process. Writers writing about writing, from Aristotle to Zelazny, is mentoring. Writing workshops and retreats, online writing discussion venues, writers conferences, manuscript marts, etc., mentoring.
Amen, brother.

And I loved what you said about voice. No one can find that for you but you.

User avatar
knight_tour
Posts: 161
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 2:30 pm
Location: Baku, Azerbaijan
Contact:

Re: Agenting needs to evolve

Post by knight_tour » August 20th, 2010, 1:17 pm

Down the well wrote:
polymath wrote:The admonition for writers to read, read widely is both mentoring and mentorship. Literature study and response is a mentoring process. Writers writing about writing, from Aristotle to Zelazny, is mentoring. Writing workshops and retreats, online writing discussion venues, writers conferences, manuscript marts, etc., mentoring.
Amen, brother.

And I loved what you said about voice. No one can find that for you but you.
I have never suggested otherwise. There are many elements of art that cannot be taught. I could find a talented young chess player and become an instructor, but some elements can only bloom from within that player. That does not mean that a teacher pushing and exciting a student is not helpful, regardless of the talents of the student. Also, while a persons voice cannot be taught to them, that does not mean that they cannot discover it more quickly.

Margo
Posts: 1712
Joined: April 5th, 2010, 11:21 am
Contact:

Re: Agenting needs to evolve

Post by Margo » August 20th, 2010, 1:27 pm

knight_tour wrote:But, if you truly believe that training can be absolutely worthless as an aid to progress, then I don't see any logical reason to continue to debate the subject with you.
I never indicated that's what I believed, but I don't think you've noticed.

I'm arguing that one-on-one mentoring is not necessary for greatness, which is subjective in the first place. One-on-one mentoring may get you there faster, if you are of the right frame of mind and you find the right mentor, but you can get there without a mentor as well. If you are in the wrong frame of mind, nothing will help.

One thing is absolutely clear. You believe that kind of mentoring situation is extremely important. I hope you find it.
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

User avatar
polymath
Posts: 1821
Joined: December 8th, 2009, 11:22 am
Location: Babel
Contact:

Re: Agenting needs to evolve

Post by polymath » August 20th, 2010, 2:02 pm

knight_tour wrote:
Down the well wrote:
polymath wrote:The admonition for writers to read, read widely is both mentoring and mentorship. Literature study and response is a mentoring process. Writers writing about writing, from Aristotle to Zelazny, is mentoring. Writing workshops and retreats, online writing discussion venues, writers conferences, manuscript marts, etc., mentoring.
Amen, brother.

And I loved what you said about voice. No one can find that for you but you.
I have never suggested otherwise. There are many elements of art that cannot be taught. I could find a talented young chess player and become an instructor, but some elements can only bloom from within that player. That does not mean that a teacher pushing and exciting a student is not helpful, regardless of the talents of the student. Also, while a persons voice cannot be taught to them, that does not mean that they cannot discover it more quickly.
I tutored several classes of primary schoolers on writing for one semester. The one who had the strongest writing skills and natural talents followed her own way. Like the readers I also tutored, all she needed was one prompt to grow on. Ask questions and find your own answers wherever you may. She didn't need hand holding, whip cracking, or someone to put Band-Aids on her boo-boos. Her nurturing mother did that. She needed someone to give her permission to follow her own way. One thing she had over her classmate cohort was a unique way of listening, observing, understanding, and relating what she encountered. And it was that she could put herself in others' places and understand and empathize with them through their perspectives. She wasn't a preaching writer, she was a visionary and mystic writer. I hope it won't be beaten out of her by life.

I too play chess. I picked it up at a young age from reading Dad's chess books. He'd played for decades. He came back from a deployment and challenged me to a contest, having heard from Mom I was interested. I mated him in five moves. He upset the board, picked up the pieces, put it away, and never played again. The mentors I've had in the game since have been worthy opponents driving me to greater efforts. I'm no master class player, but I can see what it would take to become one. No thank you, I've got other things I want to do with my life. I do see what it takes to be an accomplished writer. That's my life, my path with a fallback position or two related to writing.

I can't get there any quicker or easier than anyone else no matter how much individual mentoring attention I'm given. The average is ten years of dedicated hard work, about what it takes a gymnast, a painter, a sculptor, an actor, a politician, a baker, a brick layer, a candlestick maker to realize the pinnacle of their capabilities.
Spread the love of written word.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest