Nathan Bransford, Author


Friday, November 14, 2008

Guest Blogger: Jeff Abbott on the Importance of Having an Agent

Jeff Abbott is an international bestselling author and Curtis Brown client. He has been nominated twice for Edgar awards, and his most recent novel, COLLISION, was published in July by Dutton.

Obviously, you know you need an agent, or you wouldn’t be stalking Nathan, er, reading his blog. But I have found that too many new writers eager (or desperate) for representation are not thinking beyond the agent’s sale of their first book. And some aspiring authors balk at surrendering fifteen percent (or more) of their income to an agent. Others feel sure that their lawyer brother-in-law can cast an adequate eye over their contracts with publishers. (After all, using a lawyer for representation worked for President Clinton.) And with all the free agenting advice on Nathan’s blog and elsewhere, can’t smart, savvy authors just represent themselves?

Here’s some reasons why having an agent is crucial to your long-term career—and what an agent can do for you that you may not have even considered.

Advice you can use. A great agent does not just get you a solid advance and favorable contract terms for that first novel. A great agent will help you think about what your strengths are as a writer, and how to develop those strengths with each new book you write. For instance, I had written two successful crime series when my publisher suggested I might write a standalone thriller. A common thread in my mysteries was family relationships twisted by past secrets—not an obvious component of a novel of international intrigue, which was what I was envisioning for my standalone thriller. After my agent said, “you really do family relationships well, and you might consider carrying that over to a thriller, even though it’s a rather different kind of book.” I thought about it and realized he was right. I kept family secrets as a cornerstone of the standalone novel—it was a way to offer my existing readers a facet of my writing they already knew and liked. At the same time, it brought a fresh sensibility to an “innocent man on the run” novel. My agent had the wisdom to remind me family dysfunction would be an element I would love to write about—whether writing a small-town mystery or a global thriller. The result was Panic, a novel that has sold a half-million copies around the world, and is in development at The Weinstein Company.
Sound advice is not just about markets; it is about you, as a writer.

Subrights matter. A greater than anticipated amount of my annual income comes from subrights: foreign sales (my books are popular in the UK, Ireland, France, Portugal, and other European countries, and there is no single explanation for this) and from film options (either new, in the case of Collision, or renewed, in the case of Panic) and from screenwriting work that my film agent got for me (rewriting a treatment for a film that will most likely never be made—but I still got paid). Most new writers don’t think for a moment about the potential of their foreign or subright sales, or for additional writing work that their agents can negotiate for them. (Imagine an agent hearing that an editor would like to buy more historical fiction, and knowing that one of their clients has a burning passion for all things medieval, for instance.) New writers tend to think only of their agent’s relationship with American publishers. But an agent who is prepared and experienced in dealing with subrights negotiations—and works with overseas agents who know their markets—can have a profound effect on your bottom line. Authors representing themselves, or relying solely on local lawyers, are at a staggering disadvantage in these markets.

The quality and nature of the meeting. Most authors attempting to represent themselves are going to get only one kind of meeting: with an editor. (This assumes they’re extremely lucky enough to get that.) And of course, no meeting is more critical; the editor is every author’s first advocate inside the publishing house. But the best agents don’t just meet with editors. They also meet with editorial directors and publishers. Here I mean publisher as an executive title—the person who is the head of the entire publishing firm or imprint. In other words, the editor’s boss. Editors can only approve deals up to a certain dollar level; beyond that, it must be approved by the publisher. The agents who can get meetings with those executives are at a decided advantage in furthering their client’s careers. As well, truth be told: editors don’t want to negotiate with authors. They’d much rather deal with agents. Editors would prefer not to muddy the waters of their relationships with their authors—which involve a lot of creative feedback, revision, and trust—by haggling. Let an agent take point on those rough-and-tumble negotiations; you can focus on having the best creative relationship with your editor.

Your long-term relationship. I have been fortunate in having had the same agent now for twelve years. He took me on just as I hit a very unproductive streak: my father was terminally ill and I was working full-time and taking care of him, and not writing. I didn’t sell a book in the first two years of working with my agent. I wrote proposals that garnered no offers. Many agents would have dumped me. He stuck by me, constantly encouraging me, never giving up. When I started publishing again, I went through three wonderful editors in the course of six books. My agent has been the constant: through editors coming and going, multi-book deals, tough negotiations, setbacks and leaps forward, foreign sales to twenty countries, film options. An excellent agent can be not just your representative, but your rock.

These thoughts are based only on my own experience. But I urge you to think about your agent as more than a sales rep for your first book. And if you think you don’t need one—think again.






68 comments:

bryan russell said...

A nice confirmation. Thanks.

Robert A Meacham said...

This information helps me to keep on keeping on. So far, I have struck out trying to find an agent but I will keep trying. Thanks again for the great information.

Marilyn Peake said...

Hi, Jeff,

I’m delighted to have the opportunity to chat with you on this Blog. This is really a very special treat! I definitely believe that I need an agent, but have several questions. You mentioned having been taken on by an agent twelve years ago during an unproductive streak. My impression is that, years ago, agents took on authors for their ability alone; but now a new author must also have a potential best-seller. Do you feel that the world of publishing has changed in that way? And what advice would you give to new authors about how to find an agent? The task seemed so daunting to me years ago that I signed with a small publisher instead of looking for an agent. My books have received good reviews and won awards, and a TV Show Producer is currently including my children’s fantasy adventure novels in a pilot. I would love to be represented by a literary agent at this time.

Justus M. Bowman said...

Nathan chose a great guest blogger.

Robert A Meacham said...

Jeff,
Sorry to post again so soon but after thinking about what you said; should I seek a professional editor first? I will take advice, work hard, and do whatever it takes to succeed.
My only claim to fame, little at best, is my short stories published on the amazon short program but am currently working on three other projects.

Regards,
Robert

Deaf Brown Trash Punk said...

of course we need an agent... *sigh*

nice article, btw

Crimogenic said...

Hi Jeff,

Thanks for guest blogging. Though unagented, I do fully believe that an agent is the way to go, so I'll keep trying to get one. I don't want to do the tough negotiating with the editors or even think about trying to sell foreign rights on my own. Agents are very valuable and he/she surely earn their 15%.

Also, Marilyn Peake, you made some interesting points about the change in the way authors take on new authors.

Crimogenic said...

blah typos.

I meant to say:

Also, Marilyn Peake, you made some interesting points about the change in the way AGENTS take on new authors.

Taylor K. said...

Great blog. Nice to be reminded that all this work I'm putting into finding the right agent isn't for nothing.

Scott said...

At this point in my writing career, my need for an agent stems mostly from being faced with lots of closed doors that won't open without one. It's nice to have a few more reasons to concentrate my efforts.

Thanks, Jeff.

Kimber An said...

This all assumes any one of us can acquire an agent at all. Normally, a never-before-published author has a very slim chance of obtaining the services of any agent who isn't a scam artist. In these hard economic times, an aspiring author's chances are practically zero. I realize an agent may not want to come out and say that, because it diminishes his chances of receiving any original material. Still, what are the other 99.9% of us supposed to do? The way I see it, we either take what we can get or we get nothing at all.

Please, tell me I'm wrong and back it up with facts.

GutsyWriter said...

I met an amazing lady last weekend at a writers' retreat. During her sixteen year writing career, she never could never get an agent, so she self-published. On the brink of bankruptcy and with a sick husband, she tried one last thing. She took an intensive Internet marketing class and succeeded in getting her book as a bestseller on Amazon.com for a day. She was contacted by six agents on that one day and signed an incredible book deal with a NY publisher.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your insights, Jeff, and also a big congrats on Panic possibly being turned into a movie. I love the Weinsteins!

I hate to say it, but I think that these types of "stand by their writers" agents are actually getting to be fewer and farther between.

My own experience with agents (plural) has been the opposite. When I didn't sell right away I was pretty much tossed aside. I wonder if this has to do with the "blockbuster" potential of your work? If an agent is more willing to stand by a "thriller" writer -- who's work may garner foreign sales, film deals -- rather than being this encouraging to a writer who churns out less commercial fare.

My guess is hell yes. Maybe I write the wrong genre. :)

Mark Terry said...

Hi Jeff. When I realized I'd missed Collision I promptly ordered. Now I'm caught up reading books for the Thriller award, but yours in on my as-soon-as-I-get-past-this-contest list of reading.

Having negotiated contracts myself and later having my agent negotiate them, I can honestly say there is high probability that if you negotiate with the editor yourself you will be so pissed off you won't want to take editorial advice from them. All those emotions and problems were there when my agent negotiated the contracts, but in that case she could reassure me, no problem, it's just the process we go through.

Conduit said...

Excellent post. I was the guest author at a Q&A session just a couple of days ago, and I talked about how my agent guided me in choosing which idea to pursue for the second book of my two-book deal. One of the people gathred pulled me on the point, seeming to think there was something wrong with an agent influencing you in that way.

I pointed out that an agent's job is not just to sell your book. A good agent is there to help you make those choices and steer your career. I admitted to the questioner that I needed that guidance.

And yes, yes, yes on the subsidiary rights and contract issues. The Japanese translation rights to my first novel are worth more than my agent's 15% on the main deal, so he earned that back straight off. He also helped me dodge the "joint accounting" clause that surely would have tripped me up otherwise.

So, in short, Agent = Good.

Lapillus said...

Thanks so much for sharing!

Adaora A. said...

This is an awesome post. It's fabulous. Thanks for all of this.

And hey, I've never thought of myself as a stalker!

Gay said...

LOL, it's the first time I've ever been called a stalker, too.

I'm among the many longing for an agent (maybe not for long? I'm as far as pages being read... stops typing to cross fingers, throw salt over the shoulder, and do all those other superstitious things) that looks to this blog for information, encouragement, a dose of reality (ouch) and advice.

Guest bloggers were a great idea. Thanks for your time and for your perspective.

It's off topic, but while we've got your ear, how have changes in the industry affected you? Particularly digital rights and the way books are sold? Are you feeling it yet? Or is it business as usual?

(As a physician who went into practice just as HMOs were starting, I remember what it was like to have my business do a 180 before my eyes... it seems as though publishing is in for a similarly earthshaking metamorphosis.)

Elton A.R. Alwine said...

Thanks for the post, Jeff. It was great to hear your side of the story.

I honestly don't ever imagine getting published without a good agent, so this puts it into perspective for me.

Madison said...

Once again, great confirmation that a great agent is key to succeeding in this industry. Thanks so much!

Other Lisa said...

kimber an - it IS possible for an unpublished author to get a legitimate agent. I know from personal experience. It's one of those right project/right person/right time equations that's a lot like trying to hit a moving target. But it can and does happen.

Now I'm into this whole word verification thing: "onerazon."

Jeff Abbott said...

Thank you everyone for the warm welcome and the kind comments. I'll attempt to give some answers to your questions.

Marilyn: No, I don't think an author has to be a potential bestseller to be taken on by an agent. I do think there is an advantage in finding agents who have had success in your particular genre (if you're writing in a genre).

As for advice on how to find an agent, I joke that asking me that is like asking someone who's been married for twelve years how to get a date. (I only learned this year that agents would take emailed queries.) But in truth, you are taking one major step by reading Nathan's blog and being more informed. I would have loved to have had a resource like this when I was looking for an agent. That said, the most important thing you can do is to polish and refine and improve your book so that it is absolutely irresistible to an agent. And if that book doesn't sell, then you must write another.

Robert A Meacham: I never used a professional editor, and frankly none of the pro writers I know use them. That doesn't mean that others don't use them, I can only answer from my own experience. I think editing yourself to a certain point is a skill that every pro author must acquire. Yes, you will still get edited by your editor, but you have to learn to polish your own work at a pretty deep level.

Jeff Abbott said...

Kimber: I feel your frustration; I've been there. But every year there are many debut authors published by both the major publishers and smaller houses, and they all have agents. I was signed by an agent when I was a debut author. So was every other writer that I know. None of us agreed to be represented by scam artists. The idea that agents are not looking for fresh talent is simply not true. Does new talent face a high bar? Yes. That's true in any creative field.

What matters is your book. That trumps all.

The harsh truth is that not every person who tries to get an agent will. I have a friend who wrote nine unpublished novels before she found an agent and got published. Nine. Tenacity counts for a great deal here. And you gain nothing by going with a scam artist for an agent, because an agent who does not sell books to editors is no agent at all. (If I'm understanding your comment about scam artists correctly). Good luck to you!

jnantz said...

Mr. Abbott,
Thank you for this post. I'm always thankful and excited to see what a spirit of cooperation and helpfulness there is among many published authors toward the rest of us.

Jeff Abbott said...

Anonymous @ 10:16 AM
I don't think you have to be a blockbuster to gain representation. If that was true than many writers would never get representation, and of course they have agents. And when I was signed by the two agents I've worked with, in neither case were my books seen as potential blockbusters when I started working with them.

Marilyn Peake said...

Hi, Jeff,

Thank you very much for providing such detailed answers to our questions. It is greatly appreciated!

Ardin Lalui said...

Well I'm new to all this. I'm young and I wrote a book. It sort of appeared without my even thinking about it and I found writing it natural and easy. I never for a second thought that writing it would put me in such a difficult position though.

Writing a book is liking walking up to a brick wall. What do you do next?? I've decided to look for an agent because I know for certain that I don't have any other ideas up my sleeve. I don't know how the publishing industry ticks. Putting my shoes on in the morning is a mission.

I have a question though. I have a list of agents from a writer's directory. But how do I judge between them? Is there some website that ranks agents so I know who's the best. Because I want that one! And also, can I write to more than one agent at a time. If they're all going to take a month to reject me it's going to take years to work down the list.

Thanks for all this great free advice by the way. Hand on my heart I appreciate it, and when I'm a famous writer, I promise I'm going to give sound advice to new up-and-comers!!

Jeff Abbott said...

Adaora and Gay: I hope you know I was kidding about the stalking. :-) I am really impressed with the folks that hang out at Nathan's online pub here--focused and determined.

Gay asked if digital rights have affected my career. Right now the vast majority of my books sold are of the traditional variety. Only time will tell if that will change.

Ello said...

This was such an excellent post! Thank you so much for guest blogging. I really enjoyed reading your insight and your comments here are very warm and encouraging. ANd I just looked up Collision and it sounds like something my husband and I would both love to read! I am ordering it right away!

Ello said...

Ardin - have you tried agentquery.com? They are an awesome search engine which allows you to look for agents by genre which will help you narrow your search. Also, it gives you lots of information on sales too. It is a great resource! That's what I used to get my agent! Trust me when I say that researching for agent is also lots of work but worth investing the time to do. Best of luck!

Amber said...

Hey Jeff, thanks for the wise comments :) It's always good to hear someone in the know tell me - yes, it can be done. Not easily, but hey, that's all right. Nothing is ever easy.



Ardin - Agentquery.com is a great site, I second that.

Also, another site I recently found that is awesome is Querytracker.net

Not only can you get agent info (and search them by Genre), there are a lot of folks on that site that rate the agent and the responses, including response time.

HTH, Amber

Jeff Abbott said...

Tyra! The Hills! Rhetorical questions! Okay, I just wanted you to think Nathan was back for a minute.

(Okay, while Nathan is settling into the Witness Protection Program, can I just say I do not get his obsession with The Hills? He told me I had to watch it. I obeyed.) Our email exchange afterwards:

Me: What? The? Heck? Was? That?
Nathan: Isn't it brilliant?
Me: Is it trying to be a Jane Austen novel on acid?
Nathan: Isn't it brilliant?
Me: I liked the theme song.

Ardin: I don't know about the websites Ello and Amber suggested, but they might be worth a try. But any ranking is going to be a somewhat subjective exercise. The best match is an agent who is madly enthusiastic for your work and has a vision (shared by you) on where you can go as a writer.

Re simultaneous submissions, you should really read the FAQs on Nathan's site. They will have a lot of useful information for you re submission policy.

Ello: Thanks and I hope you enjoy the book. I had a lot of fun writing it.

I'll check back later this evening in case there are more questions.

Jeanne said...

My understanding of the term stalker keeps expanding.

I have just been through a weird experience with a genuine stalker on my blog. I've taken my blog down 3 times during the past 3 months due to weird/lude/insulting remarks made on my blog by a woman from Austin, Texas. I even created new blogs with new addresses until the remarks started right back up. And I finally realized she finds me via the link that leads her to my profile.

As far as following Nathan's blog is concerned, I feel more like a student than stalker. :)

Mary said...

I would not dream of trying to sell a book to a publisher without representation. Even if that means 10 novels beneath my bed (I like to think long-term), my focus is to find the right agent.

Thank you for such a great post!

April Henry said...

Hey Jeff - I loved Panic. I'll have to look for Collision. Like yours, my agent stuck by me, even as my first and second novel didn't sell.

And I do believe it's not imposible for an unknown, unpublished person to get an agent. I watched it happen this summer with a friend of mine, who got an agent and a two-book deal within a couple of months (after trying to find an agent for over a year).

aprilhenry.livejournal.com

Ryan Field said...

Kimber an said,

"Please, tell me I'm wrong and back it up with facts."

If you keep working, you'll get one eventually. Getting an agent took me a long time, but I love her and trust her completely.

And, I'd like to add this, too. I've read your blog a few times over the past few years, Kimber an, and I really like it a lot. And I always remember it, which to me says something. You just have to keep working, hard as it is. And that's a fact :-)

Laurel said...

I KNOW I need an agent...my characters WANT an agent...the children who could be enjoying what I write LONG FOR an agent. I'm now feeling inspired to get back out there and try again. Tomorrow at the Pittsburgh SCBWI conference I'll use this info when I meet the visiting agent. Whew! Who knew it would all be so much work??

Anonymous said...

I guess if nathan didn't want "stalkers" he shouldn't have started this blog. Unless it's merely to boost his ego.

Other Lisa said...

Clean-up on Aisle 8!

jodie said...

Normally, a never-before-published author has a very slim chance of obtaining the services of any agent who isn't a scam artist.

I'm a never-before-published author and I obtained an agent a few weeks ago. She was my dream agent, completely legit, and the only one I submitted to. She took me on as a client less than a week after receiving my query. So yes, it can be done.

BarbS. said...

A nice, thoughtful post and nice, thoughtful answers to readers' questions, Mr. A. Thank you!

There's nothing like having the RIGHT agent. Mine turned out to be something that belonged in prison. I keep stalk- er, reading :P Nathan's blog for assurance that the search is worth the trouble and there are true professionals out there.

Jeff Abbott said...

Barbs: Sorry to hear you had a bad agenting experience. Most legit agents belong to the AAR (Association of Authors' Representatives) and are required to abide by a canon of ethics. It's always a good idea to see if an agent is an AAR member. And yes, the search is worth the trouble.

Anonymous 7:16: I hope your day gets better.

Thanks for the very gracious welcome, I wish you the best of luck with your writing projects, and I hope you enjoy the rest of the guest bloggers. I will check back in over the weekend if there are any further questions.

Kim Stagliano said...

This is such helpful information. Especially the part about an agent helping you determine your niche and such. My agent has been incredibly helpful to me. And I'm starting to get over the "I'm not worthy!" stage. It's been almost two years....

KIM

Kim Stagliano said...

Normally, a never-before-published author has a very slim chance of obtaining the services of any agent who isn't a scam artist.

I disagree. I met my agent at Backspace. Finding an agentt's hard work. Querying is the pits. Rejection are rotten. You need nerves of steel and buckets of gin (oh, come back Miss Snark) but I know tons of "newbies" who have agents. Keep at it - you can do it! Good luck.

K

mlh said...

Stalk agents? Who? Me?

Billy said...

I can't think of a major NYC house that even accepts submissions anymore. Maybe a few small presses and indies, but after 2000-2001, the avenue of "submitting it yourself" seems to have been closed. The times they are a changin'.

Jeff Abbott said...

Billy: I know of someone who had an offer from a major house last year and did not have an agent, and did not think she needed one, as she could just ask me and other authors to read her contracts (this was her plan). I advised her to get an agent ASAP. I'm not sure how she got her submission in front of an editor, but she did. It still happens, if infrequently. Many times editors and writers meet at conferences, and the editor might ask for a partial based on a pitch or a discussion, and so the ball gets rolling without an agent involved.

lotusloq said...

I am all about finding me an agent that I will be able to work well with and who loves my writing. I've learned a lot stalking Nathan and other agents like him who blog.

I'm just getting started and your advice has been most helpful. It's nice to hear if from the author's point of view. I had not considered the part about the agent helping me develop my own strengths. I was thinking about the agent helping me eliminate my weaknesses.

Thanks for stopping by!

Julie Weathers said...

Jeff, this was excellent advice. Thank you for taking the time to "speak" to us.

Julie

Umm, I did not push Kimber An, it was, uh, Stuart. I just didn't get my lip waxed this week thus the confusion.

Anonymous said...

Left in the comments:Normally, a never-before-published author has a very slim chance of obtaining the services of any agent who isn't a scam artist.

Now me: I think this old-school thinking, and while it used to be true, may not be so true anymore. I know plenty of writers who don't have published books and have snagged an agent. I had four offers from agents without having published a book. Granted, it took me two years of querying, revising manuscripts, writing something new, starting a website, reading a ton of blogs and even more books, writing articles...totally committing to the agent search. I didn't submit to any editors at all during that time (except one who had asked for a revision before I started the agent search).

Jeanne said...

I just checked in to read the comments and had one random remark to add to the mix.

Ever since I discoverd this site, after it was made "blog of the day", I've grown to appreciate the people who comment here on a regular basis. And, in case you guys didn't realize it, you each have a distinct voice. For instance, I can tell an "Erik" , "Scott", "Marilyn P" or "Deaf Brown..." comment at 40 paces. Even if your names weren't there for all to see, your consistant way of writing, and expressions, come across loud and clear.

You each have a distinct voice. There are other's I recognize but the list is too long to mention.

Once in a while someone will leave an anon comment and I'll think "That sounds like so-and-so." Even those who regularly comment anon have distinct writing voices.

So, I guess I'm interested in what all of you have to say/write. :)

j

Amber Lynn Smith said...

You've heard the old standby that every rejection gets you closer to a yes? Well, I hated that statement too, but I found it to be true when finding my agent.
If you want an agent, go to conferences. Networking will get you further than blind queries. At the conferences, introduce yourself to EVERY single agent in attendance. If possible, sit by them during lunch and be polite and engaging. Don't be weird about it. There just people--most of them really nice. If they're busy, tell them you have a few questions you'd like to ask them if they have a moment, and then make yourself available (don't stalk them--if they have to go to the bathroom--let them).
Even if those agents DON'T represent your genre, they know agents who do. Don't be afraid to ask them if you can use them as a reference.
Also, introduce yourself to all the visiting authors. They are great sources of information and resources. Ask them questions.
Now in saying all this, please, please, please remember not to be pushy or condescending. The first conference is the worst, but it gets easier.
Good luck, and keep working!

Jeff Abbott said...

Kim: You and I are on the same page, but one clarification I think is important; I don't think agents necessarily help you find your "niche", I think a good one can help you build on your strengths. That's two different things. Niches can be good, I suppose, but they can also be limiting. (Put yourself in too small a niche and you limit your audience.) What I mean by writing to your strengths is that if there is an element in your writing that is strong or appealing--clockwork plots, sharp dialogue, a delicate touch with romance--that they can help point out and make sure that you make the most of that strength. At the same time, they can help highlight your weaknesses as a writer so you take more care with those elements as well.

jb said...

Mr. Abbott

Thank-you for the great post. It is nice to have this kind of information passed on to those of us who don't know how to get from A to B, I am refering only to me with they're book.

Regards,
JB

Marilyn Peake said...

Jeanne -

Wow, thank you for your very kind words. You really made my day!

I love the intense discussions about books and writing on this Blog, plus this week's incredible opportunity to chat with accomplished guest bloggers. It's awesome.

Scott said...

Jeanne rocks. :)

Virginia Brown said...

Jeff, many thanks for the advice. I can't agree more; however, finding an agent is like chasing the rainbow to find that pot of gold!
I live in the Far East and agents (who know their craft, anyway)are non-existent and US/European agents only accept established authors!
So where does one go from here?

Jeff Abbott said...

Hi Virginia: US and European agents do not only accept established authors. (I believe Nathan has some debut authors among his clientele, and a few debut authors had noted in the comments they have been able to find agents.) There may be agents who only work with established authors, but there are many agents eager to find fresh talent. Living overseas should not be an impediment; what matters is the book. That trumps all. Keep at it and good luck.

shilohwalker said...

I won't sign anything without an agent. I ended up having to find a new agent right after I'd submitted a new MS to my editor and had to put off signing anything until I had an agent. Even though I've sold several books to this editor and I'm comfortable with her, I'm not comfortable signing anything without an agent. Agents think of so many things, the small details, that just don't occur to authors-unless it's after the fact and it's turning around to bite them on the tail.

The way I see it, we either take what we can get or we get nothing at all.

Kimber An, the sad thing is that sometimes taking what you can get ends up costing you so much more.

I've known people who signed without agents and it ended up costing them a great deal, money yes, but more than that-it affected future works, their ability to have their books considered for translation and the list goes on.

Some writers have enough biz savvy, I'd imagine, to do it without an agent. But it's not a risk I'd want to take.

Scott said...

Looks like the new babysitter took away our commenting privileges. :(

Miss. said...

Thankyou, that was very enlightening! :)

Virginia Brown said...

Again, thanks Jeff! It’s comforting to know that hope is to be found somewhere out there. One of these days, I will get back to you and say: Jeff you made me!
Cheers, VB (also stands for Victoria Bitter!)

Kasey Mackenzie said...

(A little late in responding since I haven't been online much the past week.)

Kimber An: I can understand your frustration well, but I couldn't disagree with your conclusion more. I have many online writing friends and aquaitances who signed with agents for their debut books, and then went on to get book deals. In fact, I was lucky enough to sign with Nathan's agency-mate Ginger Clark back in March, and I am thrilled to say that she sold my debut urban fantasy to Penguin/Berkley in a three-book deal, at auction.

Keep in mind, however, that this was my fourth completed adult manuscript, NOT my first--not to mention the various and sundry partial manuscripts I have clogging up my computer and the many efforts I made as a child/teenager. I queried each successive manuscript more widely than the last, and learned a ton with the writing of each book. It CAN be done--but it DOES take persistence, determination, and hard work. Good luck!

Christopher Garlington said...

Mr. Abbot;

This is such a good article.

I'm married to an I.P. attorney and have always assumed that when I felt it was time to get an agent, I'd just push everything across the kitchen table.

Now I'm thinking maybe that's not such a great idea . . .

I'd love to hear more stories like this, particularly of how some authors first took on an agent. How did they find them, what made them decide it was time, and what mistakes did they make in the process.

-- G

online sports writing jobs said...

Wow.. All I have to say isssss bravvvvoooo! Honestly, most people look @ life and really see that there is just sooo much to accomplish that they don't even know where to begin. And then, years down the line they end up regretting not taking the first steps to help them excel in their career. But you, you are the definition of true efforts and really, I think you got to where you want to be by 'planning'
Planning is something that sounds so simple, but while in Oxford, we learned that if you want to make it big in life just like those wealthy people, you have to A) Start Young (and) B) Plan ahead
And literally planning ahead got me to where I want to be in life with a six figure income and I bless every day that I live, really. All I have to say is kudos to another individual that lives his life successfully like I do :)

Richard said...

Dear Jeff,
This is really great advice! I do have questions which might reval some quirks in my nature. Although I have been writing steadily for the last 18 years, I have not published anything away from my position. It's strictly for an music related magazine printed in Great Britain where people compliment me profusely. I have a gathering in a a popular singer's fan club where what I write is a favorite with the fans. Many have suggested I should write a book on a series I did for a blog called "A Few Thoughts On..." Would anyone care to give me any contacts or further advice?
Yours truly,
Richard Jessen

Wm. Luke Everest said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wm. Luke Everest said...

Two days ago, I got an agent. Many sites tell me what an agent does, but my question is a little more tricky: what does an agent NOT do? If they constantly help an author in their career, should I show her everything I produce? (I assume, here, that if I'm writing short fiction the answer is "no".) Will she contact me from now or should I contact her? It seems that the author/agent relationship is quite personal, but I'm afraid of being a pest.

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