Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Agent Terror Tales

It's Halloween so I figured I'll be like so many other bloggers out there and make a list of the ten most terrifying things we face as agents:

  • 10. The stalking author We all have them and I have to say, we get to a point where we are simply afraid to open up our email. It is this same person that will always find you at a conference, approach you at the airport to and from a conference and so forth.
  • 9. Opening your email after a week away at a conference - There are how many new submissions? The editors want those revisions 2 days ago? The contracts that need to be reviewed!!!. Arggghhhh
  • 8. Sitting down with an author during a pitch session dressed up as a vampire. Honestly it doesn't have to be a vampire but I think you get the idea. I did have one woman stand up as the pitch began and started singing. How do you keep a straight face to that?
  • 7. Going to the restroom at a conference While we might think this is a sanctuary from the authors, they have been known to pitch to us.  
  • 6. Attending a conference to find the bar is closed. Look, we have to get through the conference some how. I will also add to this the terror of finding out the "conference rates" at the bar that give you a 6 oz. wine for $7.50.
  • 5. Hearing your top writer say their computer just got fried and their latest story went with it.  We're counting on you and now we hear things are delayed? How do I break this to the editor?
  • 4. Having to tell your author they are changing editors, again. This is normally not an issue, but it becomes more of a counseling session with the author. We drink wine. We listen to them cry. We listen to them scream. We drink more wine. 
  • 3. Opening up a query letter where the author goes on for pages about how they translated their personal experience of being a werewolf into their latest story. See items #8 above
  • 2. Reading a query for a 500,000 word story for a series line - Inevitably this person becomes a stalker too. When we see these, we simply scream, "Run Forrest Run!"
  • 1. Hearing another book store closed - Need I say anything else.
Have a great Halloween everyone!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

This post is really going out to all of you writers who think that you know romance. This is for those of you in the fiction world that think what you are writing is a romance. Now, for those of you in the romance industry, please understand I AM STEREOTYPING here to make a point. 

Just yesterday, I posted here about authors who submit to Greyhaus projects that are clearly not falling into the romance or the women's fiction genres. I should also add that I did get a second gentleman who proceeded to tell me that all of these great movie actors are looking at his manuscript and to also remind me that "Harry Potter attracted the attention of a lot of editors" what ever that meant. 

So, with that said, if you think you write romance, would your book end up on a shelf with covers like this:


Or better yet, would there be descriptions in your book such as:

"Sucking and licking, she was so close."
"His hardness was pushing against her womanly core."
"She shattered as he plunged one final time."
"I want you in me now!"

and I did leave out all of the lines about nubs.

O.K. So maybe you say, "I am writing romance not smut". Fine, let's try this then...

"Her hand tingled with electricity from his touch."
"She knew from the first glance that he was for her."

The point of all this is simple. Do you know what your write or are you simply throwing darts at a wall and hoping that something will stick?

I teach a session on understanding romance and women's fiction and one of the easiest tests is to wander around a bookstore and tell me where your book would be placed. If it is not in the section on romance, the odds are you are not writing this genre. 

And once, again, yes, I was stereotyping but it is there to make a point. Know what you write. Know the genre and submit only to agents and editors who acquire that genre.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

It's Another Reminder - Read the Submission Guidelines: A BLOG FLOG!

So, this last weekend I spent a few hours going though submissions, One of the submissions came from an author who had already submitted to me in the past. I don't mind when authors resubmit. I am always hoping to see growth. But here is the issue:
  • The first submission was for a genre I do not represent. I clearly stated that in the reply which always comes with my digital signature that includes the link to my web page where the guidelines are also posted.
  • The second submission was for another genre I do not represent. I again replied stating that it would be a good idea to review the submission guidelines.
But then here comes a third one. At this point, we are hoping that authors have figured things out. But noooooo! This is for a project ALSO in a genre I don't even remotely represent.

Again, I reply back stating that it is not a genre I represent and he should indeed review the submission guidelines, 

For this person, I also went on to note that editors and agents only represent certain genres. We do this because of our expertise in the field, our interest, or simply (in the case of editors) this is the position we were hired for. We don't limit our genres because we are closed minded our out to screw the dedicated author and their personal voice.

But wait, this gets better. 

The reply I get is:

I am merely an author trying to break through ice thin of thick, therefore, I am asking for one final review. Though, yes, you have spoken, but it only seems beneficial to reach out once more. As I'm sure many people probably annoy you with similar request in their grave attempts for contract & publication, but maybe you'd be willing to spare the time? And yes, I take into full understanding you are very busy w/ a multiple of clients, projects & other varieties to which you owe me nothing. I'm simply trying to reach out one last time.

There are several things to address here:

THE AUTHOR IS IGNORING, ONCE AGAIN THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES - I find it interesting that the author is ignoring the real reason I rejected the project. When you send something that is not what we represent, we let you know. Now I do know some editors and agents will not let you know because this information is clearly available in multiple sources, but Greyhaus does let you know. There is simply nothing beneficial about "reading out once more" and wanting "one final review". Agents are not here as a review service. There are plenty of review services with editors who will do this. In the end, the real issue is - if you do get a reason why the editor or agent rejected you, then follow those guidelines.

THE AUTHOR IS RELYING ON EMOTION AND NOT PROFESSIONALISM Look, this is a business and we are looking for writers with a sense of professionalism. This will also include letters that demonstrate how this person will act and behave in public when it is time to market their projects. When we see someone relying on the the fallacies of "Appealing to Pity" and "Appealing to Emotions", these are huge red flags. How will this person react when we send revision letters? How will this person act when there is a not so positive review.

Last week, I spent time talking about what I look for in a submission. This is that element I spoke of when we discussed reviewing the submission for who the author is. 

THIS IS A REASON WHY MANY AGENTS DON'T SEND REJECTION LETTERS It is this reason that many agents limit how much, if any information they send back to an author in a rejection letter. This also includes why they don't respond when you want to discuss the book further after a rejection, or you try to argue it. This leaves the door open for someone to start swamping the mail email with more reasons and justifications. 

I should also add that this is why contests such as the RITA and the GOLDEN HEART eliminated the comments from the preliminary judges. There were too many, shall I dare use the word, "psycho" authors out there who went ballistic over a rejection. 

So, what did we learn from this today? If you are thinking of replying to a rejection, letter, make sure you know what you are doing before you hit send. What is the message you are sending to that editor or agent. Along the same lines, I want you to make sure you review those submission guidelines of the editors and agents. This is not rocket science people! 

* * *

And some final notes. First of all, it is a shame this author, as well as those other authors out there who continually send projects without reading the submission guidelines don't read this blog. Maybe if they spent some more time doing their research and learning the business, they might find some more success. And secondly, this weekend 34% of the submissions I received were for projects in genres I didn't represent. They got letters back from me and hopefully they won't do what this author decided to do.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Self-published authors - Please Quit Picking Fights!

I was talking to one of my clients this weekend and she was saying how her chapter had a guest speaker who was once again preaching the line, "Fire your agents and fire your editors! Do it yourself!" I have to say, since RWA this year I am getting pretty irritated at this mantra we are hearing from authors out there.

Look, there is room for everyone. If you have this desire to self-publish then go for it! No one is stopping you!

I think what a lot of these authors are missing in their argument is that not everyone wants to take this approach. Not everyone has the knowledge of the business. Not everyone has an already built in following from their careers in traditional publishing. And yes, when we talk money, not everyone has the cash to pay for: an outside editor, a cover artist, a marketing manager... and so forth.

When I talked to my author about this, it was interesting to hear a few facts that might have been missed by those in the audience:

  • The speaker WAS previously published and already had a following.
  • The author was spending a lot of her own money to take care of things normally covered by a publisher.
  • The author was spending close to 100 hours a week on the career just to keep it afloat.
When this first idea came out, there was indeed a huge fight (or maybe just a verbal war) between those who wanted to go on their own and those that wanted the traditional approach. But in recent years, that war has seemed to shift to a more one sided approach. The editors and the agents on the traditional side have pretty much stopped. No, this is not because, what I do believe some would think, "they realized they were wrong." Instead, they realized there was a place for everyone.

For myself, I have always thought of this like those people who decide to sell their home on their own vs. those who want to use a real estate company. If you have the time and the resources, and you understand property law and finances, then go for it. Sell your own house. But you know, there are still people out there who would prefer to leave the selling of their home to those in the business.

Now, does this mean if you sell your home one way or the other you make more money? Absolutely not! Everything is on a case by case basis. Sometimes a person selling a home on their own can indeed make a bigger profit. Sometimes they won't. The issue here is that it all depends on a lot of different variables.

I don't want anyone to think that right now, I am doing everything I can to "save my job as an agent." Nope, that is far from the case. My authors are doing really well!

What I am saying is that if you are a person who wants an agent. If you are a person who wants to take the traditional publishing approach, please don't let those other authors discourage you from taking the approach that works for you. Just remember to really listen to the variables the author is using when they talk of their successes taking that self-pub approach:

  • Are they selling their back lists from traditional publishers?
  • Are the using this as a supplement to an already existing writing career?
  • Are they still bringing in royalties from those traditional publishers?
  • How many outside resources are they having to pay (editors, cover artists, etc.) are they having to pay.
I think the only thing I want to leave you with today during this slight rant is:

...There is room for everyone. You have the permission to take whatever route you want to take with publishing. And just because someone isn't taking YOUR approach, it doesn't make them wrong!

P.S. And Romance Writers of American and other larger publishing groups - Please remember to continue to support those who don't just want to self-pub!