I'm an established full-time author - willing to answer questions if you have them



That makes sense, it’s very helpful to know that. Do you think it’s achievable if someone has a full time job that makes them work overtime often?

Thank you!


I’m not Michael, but I’d like to weigh in on this.

I’d be super careful doing this. Literary agents (who rep, rather than acquire) are paid via sales. Unless you’re upfront with them, to use them as your personal industry gauge is not only disingenuous, but also takes time from them they can’t recoup.

A couple of other points:

  • Most books picked up by agents (and sold to traditional publishers) go through extensive editing, including developmental editing, after pick up. So having an agent offer to rep you means you’re definitely close to being ready for prime time, but it’s not a definitive go.

  • There are some literary agents who have expanded their services to helping authors they already rep self publish. They don’t do anything the writer couldn’t do themselves, really – help find cover artists, help find good editors, help with marketing plan – but the one person I know who took advantage of this was more than happy with the result. (That was n=1, so YMMV.)

  • Agents will sometimes take on self-published writers to help with sales of subsidiary rights.

If you find an agent who is open to different types of publishing, it might be worth querying them when you’re ready. I don’t think I’d hold my breath, though.


Most writers have full-time jobs. Many also have full-time families with young kids.

It’s all about setting priorities.


Thanks! You are always welcome to weigh in anytime. I’m not querying but it’s one of those odd ideas i had to ask because like you said it might come off as disingenuous so I wasn’t sure how it would have been received. Also thanks for the breakdown on agents and self pubbed authors. For me personally after I feel i’m ready(which will be a while from now) I’m looking to trad publish before anything else but i’m open to learning every single possible along the way.


Tell you what, every agent I know would be super pissed off with you if you used them like this. They might even spread your name around as a time-waster.


Thank you! That makes me feel a bit better. I usually the person who can’t sit still so I tend to do a lot and no one knows how I do so much. I just wanted to make sure I was being realistic though, the whole writing books is a new thing for me. (:


@MichaelJSullivan Hi! How do I get over “writer’s envy”? I’m suffering from that right now, and it’s bugging me because I avoid other authors (on social media) to prevent myself from getting upset at their successes.

Have you experimented “writer’s envy” before?


Thanks! :slight_smile:


So, a few things.

  • Even self-published authors have agents. Mine handles my foreign translation deals (as that’s a complicated playing field and one you’re best to have a guide with). They also take care of some of the rights (dramatic audio, graphic novels, television/film). It’s important to let them know what projects and rights they can shop and which are yours…and it goes without saying that any income you get from self-published works (or works where you placed the title – for instance I do my own audio deals), are projects where no agent cut comes into play.

  • Every book I write I assume is going to be self-published…but I give it to my agent and see what they can get for it. In some cases, the offers were lower than I thought the books could make, so I self-published, on other occasions the offer was much higher than I thought I could earn through self, so I signed. So, yeah, I think it’s worth knowing what the market will pay for a title and then decide which path is right for it. Now, that works for me because I’m already established. For someone who is new, the mindset has to be that you PLAN on traditionally publishing every work you “shop.” But that doesn’t mean that you can’t walk away if you don’t think the offer is good enough.


Most authors have full-time jobs, and learn out to balance their “work” with writing. I, personally, never had this problem because I have a saint of a wife that was willing to be the sole income earner “back in the day.” Now I return the favor and we live off my income…but again that’s more the exception than the rule.

What I suggest to people who are really dedicated to writing, is to get a job where you can write AND get paid. Some examples…night security or night manager at a hotel. For the most part, these positions just want a “warm body that’s there and awake.” There is very little to do 90% of the time, and so you can write on a laptop.


It’s a good point, and one of the reasons I make sure I have a way for my agents to earn off my work (through foreign translations and selling subsidiary rights). Would they prefer to “have it all.” Sure…but they do earn money…and I don’t use them for developmental edits, so they really don’t need to do much for their compensation.

it’s a very controversial practice…and one I’d never use (but I’m an experienced self-publisher. I do worry that the agent has conflicts of interest in this scenario…but, yes, for some writers it’s a service they appreciate.


Nothing wrong with this mindset. The good news is you have options. If the offers come in and they aren’t very good, then you can consider self-publishing. If the offer comes in and meets your expectations, then by all means go the traditional route.


If you presented it the way the OP phrased it…sure. But you wouldn’t be phrasing it that way. When you go into the project your intention should be to traditionally publish, and if the offer comes in and it’s a good one, then take it. But if the offer is “so-so” you are well within your right to walk away and self-publish the work. Deals fall apart all the time…and agents know that sometimes they work a project that doesn’t get signed (either because of no publishers being interested, or the author doesn’t like the terms offered. It’s part of doing business. But if you do turn down the offer…then you should let the agent shop some of the other rights (for instance foreign translations) so they do get to earn off the title.


In the publishing business, “realistic” means going in expecting very little. The chances of “making it” are very small, so if you know that going in, then any traction you find is a bonus. Bottom line, you write because of the joy it brings you. Whether you’ll find money or readers is something you can’t control…so control what you can, which is how you feel about writing.


Well, the first thing you have to do is get your mind around the fact that you are in competition with just one person - yourself. Don’t concern yourself with what other authors are doing or accomplishing because as you said, it can be destructive. If you measure yourself by yourself alone…and by that I mean myself of 2018 is a much better writer and has far more success than myself in 2015, or 2013, or 2011, or 2008.

As for myself and writer’s envy…No, I don’t suffer from that. To me, I celebrate other author’s successes. It’s not a “zero sum game” - in other words one person’s success doesn’t take something from your pile and adds to theirs. Success is a tide that rises all boats. The more authors that “make it” the more robust the reader community is. Look at Rowlings. She brought millions of new readers into the marketplace, and most of them read more than just her books. So her success helps my success, and yours.


Reads easier said than done, but it’s hard to ignore when starting out.


what are your thoughts on tv/movie requiring the waiver of derogatory treatment and/or moral rights?


True, but the sooner you embrace the notion, the easier your life will get.


I don’t like it…but I also know it’s 100% a deal breaker. In other words it WILL be in the contract. Period. The way I get around it is by having a say on the script (which most authors don’t get). It’s through that oversight that I can control things from going off the rails.


Question. Does giving away 10,000+ copies of a ebook for free counts as selling?

I know being a bestseller comes from paid money, but it takes time to read.

So I believe giving away 10,000+ copies for free counts as selling.