Literary Agents


#245

I have no idea why you have decided I’m the devil incarnate. I am simply replying to your posts.

The first Twilight movie came out in November 2008. All four books were released before the first movie.

  • New Moon, the second book in the series, came out in 2005 and spent 11 weeks in the number 1 position on the NY Times bestseller list (50 weeks on the list total).
  • After the release of Eclipse , the first three “Twilight” books spent a combined 143 weeks on the list.
  • Breaking Dawn was released with an initial print run of 3.7 million copies. Over 1.3 million copies were sold on the first day alone, setting a record in first-day sales performance

It was, demonstrably, a MASSIVE megaseller before the movies.

50 Shades of Grey and its poor grasp of BDSM has been widely discussed:


#246

I fear that might be a polite way of telling you they don’t like the story. So it won’t matter how many times you try to get that round peg to fit into their square hole. Just the way it is. Happens to us all. I remember reading that Stephen King got Carrie rejected so many times, he threw the manuscript in the bin.


#247

You have an answer for everything, that’s why.

I have already said I was a fan of the movie and only repeated what was said about the books, so really. You went through all that trouble pulling up countless articles to prove what exactly? That the books were written well? They weren’t. Compare them to what’s out today in that specific genre and you will see the difference of writing.

Don’t care much for this one at all. Didn’t like the books nor the movie. And?


#248

I am standing by to what I’ve said over and over again, LUCK plays a big factor along with HARD WORK.

There are plenty of amazing singers, amazing painters, amazing make-up artist, that still can’t find that dream job, though they are very good at what they do. Hard work and luck works hand in hand.

Sorry, not changing my mind either.

Let me go get some coffee, its been a long time since I’ve went back and forth with ‘I know all the answers.’


#249

Wishing doesn’t make things so. Again, they may be practicing “if you can’t say anything nice, say nothing at all.” Agents know that harsh words from them could crush an author’s spirit…and given the fact that analysis of a work is very subjective, they don’t want to be responsible for possibly sending an author into an unrecoverable downward spiral. Now, SOME agents WILL give feedback on manuscripts that are “close,” and in that case they may even ask to see a revised version. But if you are going to go the traditional route, you have to stop thinking about what you want, and just accept what is.

I’m not sure how long you’ve been on this forum, but I’ve been here for years…and in all that time I’ve seen thousands of posts…some spouting utter nonsense, and others that are well-educated about the publishing business. The people I mentioned KNOW the business…and new authors really should listen to them if they want facts rather than speculation. I don’t think anyone was trying to be offensive, but I do think you took several comments negatively even though they weren’t meant to be that way. The Internet is a difficult place for communication sometimes as it can lead to unintended miscommunications - and I think that is what happened here.

I’m not sure what comment you are referring to…is it the one where you think you are owed feedback if you submit a partial or full? Because what you want and what an agent does, don’t have to be aligned. You can get upset about that fact, or you can learn to deal with reality and move on.


#250

Let me guess: you’re hungry again. :wink: Nice excuse. I might have to use that one on my kids.

I’ll go back to your first post in this thread. An agent wants a story that s/he LOVES. I’ve met a few agents and every one of them has said that same thing. They have to be passionate about that story, otherwise it’s probably going to be a hard sell. Surely you would want someone who was going to give their all when it comes to your story. I know that I want the right fit, and I most certainly want an agent who believes in my story as much as I do. I can’t imagine settling for less than that.


#251

We’ll have to agree to disagree.

Historically its not been the case, but Alec is pretty knowledgeable and does his research, so I concede that it may be changing. So, I’ll keep my eyes open for data that supports or refutes the notion. It’ll take time for data to come in, but if the industry is changing, I’m more than willing to adjust my thoughts on the matter.

Mentioning something doesn’t make it a fact…it’s an opinion. And as for your friend…we have no idea if it was luck or the strength of her work that got her picked up. And as I said many, many, many times so far…agents take chances all the time. It’s kind at the core of that they do.

Again, you are operating under a misconception…I’ll say it one last time…agents take chances all the time.


#252

I submitted my first novel for representation in 1980, I was first published in 2008. (Although granted for more than 12 years of that time I wasn’t writing/submitting at all). For years I was “the little engine that was trying” and now, by any measure I’d be put in the “great success” category. NYT and Washington Post bestseller lists, just under 1.5M copies sold, multiple foreign language translations, many six and one seven-figure advances, and earning a steady income that supports me and my family full-time since 2011.

It takes time…it takes practice. It was my 14th novel that was the one that ultimately got published, and looking back at the other thirteen, it’s obvious (now) while the other ones weren’t picked up.


#253

I’ve not seen excuses. I’ve seen people trying to explain how the industry works…you can live within its framework, or decide it’s not for you and either (a) don’t publish or (b) self-publish.


#254

Too much tell is something that I also suffered from early on. Most authors do. It’s part of the “rookie” mistakes that gets better as you get more experience under your belt. And it’s a balancing act. That’s one of the reasons it’s hard to get a book in the sweet spot…the Goldilocks zone. And again, when getting opinions from a single person its subjective. They may be right…but they could also be wrong. Best thing to do is just keep writing, keep analyzing your weaknesses and developing tools to over come them.

Stephen King says you should treat your first 1,000,000 words as practice and Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours at something to become proficient. I think those numbers are pretty accurate based on my own experience and many authors I’ve met over the years.


#255

I mentioned elsewhere…but it’s a long thread so you might not have seen it. But the statement “Not what I’m looking for” is agent-speak for either (a) the writing wasn’t up to par or (b) a good concept was poorly execute. Bottom line…an agent gets so many submissions that what they WANT is that book that immediate grabs them and won’t let them go. And when your book doesn’t do that they say “It’s not for me” or “It’s not what I’m looking for.”


#256

It’s only mind boggling because you are refusing to accept that they may be using the comment as a kindness rather than telling you point by point all the problems with your work.

This is the nature of publishing!! There are only a very few that are household names…the vast majority of the writers are in the midlist and most of them have day jobs. That doesn’t mean that a bunch of “smaller” authors doesn’t add up. But if you are expecting be on the client list of someone like Noah Lukeman, the chances of that happening are very, very small. Heck with a 1% - 2% acceptance rate the chances of you getting picked up by ANY agent is very slim.


#257

Sigh, stop being so sensitive. The comment (made by someone else) was trying to be helpful…publishing is a close-knit business and they were just trying to make sure you didn’t shoot yourself in the foot. At this point, you really can say anything you like, because no one “in the business” will see your comments, but IF you want to be published, then it’s best not to speak ill of the club you are trying to get into. That’s all they were trying to say.


#258

If an agent sent a rejection, they looked at the query. I really think they should record a query review session because it’s quite amazing how quickly they can go through them. A few minutes each is generally enough to put them in the “auto reject” or “worth looking at in more detail.” I’ve even seen some agents that take less than 30 seconds before deciding what pile something goes in. I’d say out of 200 queries the second pile is only 2 - 5…and they’ll get a greater look but maybe 20 minutes at which point it’s asking for a partial/full or moving it over to pile A.

Now, you may think “That’s totally crazy. How can they tell anything in that amount of time?” And the answer would be many are just 100% wrong. Submitting non-fiction to a fiction agent, getting their gender wrong (or not knowing what it is) Dear Sir or Madam is a god way to get you auto rejected :wink: Very few of the submissions actually take the time to do the research and to personalize the letter. The good news, is for the people who do…you get a huge leg up.

If you are on the query-go-round, I HIGHLY recommend a free short written by Noah Lukeman: How to write a winning query letter. I also recommend reading and studying EVERY post on Query Shark.. Doing those two things will give you a HUGE leg up when it comes to querying.

If you are getting these kinds of rejections, it’s a VERY good sign. Agents don’t spend time commenting on works that are VERY far away from where they need to be. It’s an indication that you are “getting close” to the level that they think could be picked up.


#259

I’ve already explained why not. (a) They are too busy (b) They don’t want to crush your spirit © Most of what they receive pure trash and if they spent time personalizing responses to those that are “very far from where they need to be” would mean they have no time to do the things that make them money.


#260

It is…although it wasn’t me that said it - I was quoting AlecHutson.


#261

My wife (and all her friends) were reading Twilgiht and they were all in their 40’s so it has a very broad appeal. And I (a man in my 40’s) was reading Harry Potter. Their success came from an appeal outside of their INTENDED demographic.

100% wrong…the reason FSoG went so viral was it exposed the fact that “ordinary women” (those that weren’t heavily into BSD) found it titillating. That and the fact that those were “closeted” about their feelings on BSD now felt liberated that their feelings weren’t abnormal.


#262

Also, they don’t want to invite a back and forth. They’ve had so many writers who want to get into a time-consuming back and forth discussion that they’re relying more and more on form rejections for everything but fulls. (I admit – I would be pissed if I got a form rejection on a full!)

Expanding on “too busy,” it’s important to remember that queries/partials/fulls aren’t paying the bills. Therefore they’re read on the train, during lunch, nights, and weekends. A couple of minutes to jot down some feedback becomes a lot when multiplied by the number of people they’re responding to.


#263

100% agree on both points.


#264

I’ll never give up. I know someone someday will want to represent me. I’ve worked too hard to throw everything away. :slightly_smiling_face: