Super Sad True Agent Story

Submission protocol, query etiquette, and strategies that work
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dgaughran
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Re: Super Sad True Agent Story

Post by dgaughran » April 5th, 2011, 10:00 pm

Hi Karen,

Thanks for your comments.

Let me first say that I don't know the reason I have been blanked by this agent, there may well be valid reasons, they just haven't been communicated to me. That said, it's over three months since the agent promised to have a decision in a week, and at this stage I'm not expecting to hear back at all. That's a pretty depressing thought, and has made me wary of approaching any agent.

My thoughts on agents and the whole publishing industry are in flux right now (perhaps I need to limit the amount of time per day I read Joe Konrath, Dean Wesley Smith and Barry Eisler), and I don't know how I'm going to feel in a few weeks, let alone months.

But I do know this: I will no longer spend a significant part of the day (of any day) worrying about agents, reading about agents, thinking about agents, researching agents, and emailing agents. That time will be spent writing. That's my job, after all. I made this decision on Sunday evening, and on Monday I began strictly dividing my time between learning how to get some of my old short stories online, for sale, and producing new ones. I'm going to do this until I have a bunch of new stories, and I have my first ones for sale online. Then I will start devoting a large chunk of time to my second novel. When I have made significant progress in the new novel, and not before, I will think about the issue of agents again.

And you know what? I wrote more in the last two days than I did in the last two months, and it feels great.

Dave

P.S. That's some tasty looking cake
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taylormillgirl
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Re: Super Sad True Agent Story

Post by taylormillgirl » April 6th, 2011, 10:52 am

cheekychook wrote:One agent recently posted something on twitter that I found so offensive I decided that I wouldn't want to be represented by that person (a person, I might add, who has had my partial for three months without a word).
Cheeky, there are a few agents I follow on Twitter who have been crossed off my "to query" list because of their rude, arrogant, or inflammatory posts. Some of them seem to have a god complex, and I don't want an a-hole representing me.
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Quill
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Re: Super Sad True Agent Story

Post by Quill » April 6th, 2011, 11:22 am

As an aside, it seems to me the entire agency model is starting to skate on thin ice, due to the march of technology and the overbearing weight (and wait) of the old system, and I'm not sure many agents are aware of this. If I was an agent, I'd think this would be a good time to get off my god complex, if I was on one, and start being nice to people. Before I found myself replaced by a freelance book packager or a home keyboard.

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Re: Super Sad True Agent Story

Post by Guardian » April 6th, 2011, 11:30 am

Quill wrote:As an aside, it seems to me the entire agency model is starting to skate on thin ice, due to the march of technology and the overbearing weight (and wait) of the old system, and I'm not sure many agents are aware of this. If I was an agent, I'd think this would be a good time to get off my god complex, if I was on one, and start being nice to people. Before I found myself replaced by a freelance book packager or a home keyboard.
Unfortunately most agents are telling to themselves "But I still getting hundreds of letters each day". They won't or don't want to realize this as they're living in a pink little cloud. However I know few friendly and really trustworthy agents whose are well aware of the present situation. They'll be the ones whose are going to survive (And I hope they'll survive, because they're classic, good agents). The others will simply vanish and no is going to miss them.

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dgaughran
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Re: Super Sad True Agent Story

Post by dgaughran » April 6th, 2011, 12:17 pm

I don't know about that.

Agents will always be needed on some level for two reasons.
(a) Even if you are doing everything yourself (publishing, covers, formatting and so on), are you really going to handle foreign rights, film rights etc?
(b) A lot of them are very smart, can see what's coming and have been preparing.

They know all this other stuff indie pubbers do is time-consuming, and many would be glad to have it taken off their hands. They see Amanda Hocking's rationale for taking less money by going the traditional route - so she has more time for writing, and they see an opporunity.

I'm sure a lot of agents will set themselves up as some kind of one-stop shop for a indies where they can get all that stuff done, plus get the agent's brand stamped on the side which will be a sign of quality for the public (as they will vet the projects they take on). I'm not saying this is what's going happen or what should happen, I'm saying it's what some of them think may happen.

In my view, a lot of the smart editors will be looking at the writing on the wall and thinking the exact same. There is no reason why they can't do all of the above too, and, after all, they already have the contacts in the publishing houses. There is going to be a lot more lay-offs in the publishing business, and some of these people are bound to band together and move into indie publishing and start offering services.

Where some of the agents appear to be making a mistake is thinking that authors will give them a cut of up to 50% for doing any of this. I just can't see that happening.

There will be a place for everyone in the new order, but the power will have shifted to authors.

How long will this all take to happen? No idea.

Dave
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Re: Super Sad True Agent Story

Post by Guardian » April 6th, 2011, 5:25 pm

dgaughran wrote:They know all this other stuff indie pubbers do is time-consuming, and many would be glad to have it taken off their hands.
Personally I rather do all these things, cover design, website design, editing and formatting, even marketing, then to accept that behavior as they're handling their clients. When they get down from the high horse, maybe I'm going to reconsider this... just maybe. But until this is not going to happen, I rather work twice as hard, just to prove they're wrong and to personally add one more nail into some agent's coffin.
(a) Even if you are doing everything yourself (publishing, covers, formatting and so on), are you really going to handle foreign rights, film rights etc?
As a former director and producer I can handle this without them. The general problem is that many believes what agents are doing is actually some sort of miracle and no one can do the same. Yes, this sounds good in self promotions, but it's not true at all. You can learn and do all these things anytime and it won't cost you a dime. And the major advantage of this, you don't have to listen some smart ass to write something on the trendy way, because agents and editors (Nope, not the audience) without any taste want to see something else.
(b) A lot of them are very smart, can see what's coming and have been preparing.
Some of them are smart, but they're capable to speak with you as a human being, they're capable to respond to you on a normal tone, etc, etc... The smart agents are usually not on my blacklist. But this list is very-very short.
They see Amanda Hocking's rationale for taking less money by going the traditional route - so she has more time for writing, and they see an opporunity.
Actually they see the money. Period. They see that Hocking has made a fortune WITHOUT them and they're swarming around her, like coyotes and vultures around deadmeat. Publishers are now desperate because they know if others are going to achieve the very same, they go bankrupt. So they rather offer huge money for her, just to abandon her successful business (If my instinct is not cheating me, my guess is; she won't be successful after she is going to work with publishers. She is going to get her paycheck in every six month, everyone is going to tell her how to write and what to write, etc, etc... So slowly, but surely, they're going to sink her. That's a guarantee.).
There will be a place for everyone in the new order, but the power will have shifted to authors.
Oh, and we're waiting for this a long time ago. Finally not the writers will be the last in the line.

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sarahdee
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Re: Super Sad True Agent Story

Post by sarahdee » April 7th, 2011, 11:13 pm

dgaughran wrote:
Let me first say that I don't know the reason I have been blanked by this agent, there may well be valid reasons, they just haven't been communicated to me. That said, it's over three months since the agent promised to have a decision in a week, and at this stage I'm not expecting to hear back at all. That's a pretty depressing thought, and has made me wary of approaching any agent.
I don't know about publishing but I used to work for an investment firm and you can apply the same reasoning...your book is an investment after all.

Once the original principal (your maybe agent, let's call him John) has found it he will sound it out with his peers (the rest of the office and the external readers). They love it so John tells you how great they think it is. John then takes it to his boss, Steve, who also loves it but has had a few losses recently with bad investments so is cautious. They are not allowed to sign new clients without the say so of the top brass. He takes a few weeks to think about it and also asks a few experts in the genre to have a read to get their input. His top man, Bob, is on holiday for two weeks so this takes him some time but eventually they love it. Steve takes the book to the BoD and really champions this book. Thing is BoD knows Steve made some bad choices last year so he isn't the top priority and it takes them some weeks to take a meeting with him. Plus remember Steve has his own clients so he doesn't push as hard as he could. It gets even worse as last week John found a yummy looking sandwich in the fridge and in a moment of weakness ate it. Thing is, the sandwich belonged to Annie, the secretary to the BoD so she isn't going to do anything to help Steve or John and maybe 'forgets' to pass on a few messages.

Anyway, you get the idea. Sometimes these things just take time and maybe your Agent John is as frustrated as you. He doesn't want to say no, as it isn't yet a no, but until the top dogs get their bottoms in gear he can't offer representation to a new client.

That you got interest from two agents tells you that you really have a fantastic idea there. I wouldn't wait for Steve and John, maybe eventually they will say yes but why not hit some other agents in the meantime.

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dgaughran
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Re: Super Sad True Agent Story

Post by dgaughran » April 8th, 2011, 7:54 pm

I decided to publish my shorts online for 99c a pop so people can download em to their Kindles and iPhones, and release the album ever 5 stories or so for $2.99. I have no idea how to do it, but I'm gonna learn. I don't know how many I'm going to sell, but I'm going to tell the world anyway, and blog about it here: http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com

It was only when I came up with this project on Sunday that I kicked into gear and started writing again. I feel like I have control of my life back.

I wrote a 5,200 short in the last three days, and I think it's good. I've never written that fast. I'm going to publish it online. I have a few more I can use too.

I strongly recommend doing this, it's a lot of fun.
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