Literary Agents


#63

It isn’t easy to take it at first. But the only way to improve is to see your flaws. I’ve got a good editor and a couple good Beta readers. I’m VERY fortunate.


#64

Very true. One time I had an agent say to me: meanders in thought and narration.

I was heated, but again, calmed down, got my head out of my arse, and re-wrote the entire first chapter at least ten times.

That book? Was posted on Wattpad and was featured and shortlisted. I took her advice, and it got me that on here, so I am grateful.


#65

It’s always good to have a second opinion.


#66

Good evening/afternoon/morning!

I’m not pointing any fingers here, but let’s try to keep it as civil as possible!

Thank you,

Nicole, Ambassador


#67

What exactly did they say about your story?

I saw you say it was saturated. What does mean? Like a saturated genre, or your book was saturated with something in particular?

Also the comment of not sure who they could sell it to - sounds like you’re writing a niche story then. I’ve heard that if that’s true it could take forever to find an agent, or you might need to self-publish.

Unfortunately getting an agent is a very subjective thing. Harry Potter got rejected like 10 times. If it’s super different/unique it can just take a while to find an agent to see the diamond in the rough.


#68

Only one of them said that, it was over two years ago. I ended up shelving that book and moving on.

My main thoughts were really about literary agents just taking a chance. Something different. No longer using the word subjective.

That was my main thing to see, other opinions on that theory.


#69

Yeah I am nervous about that when I get to the stage of sending out stories.

I also know too these people see hundreds of queries in a week and if they have a bad week when they see mine, they could just be like, “Meh, next.” I don’t think we can do much to change that. It’s just kind of the way things are. Most are conservative with picking new books since it could be a big risk.

All the advice I have ever seen is:

  • Keep going until an agent takes a chance
  • Work on changing your book
  • Get a new beta reader
  • Self publish

I think since everyone can write books now they just get soooo many people seeking representation. I know a lot of popular youtube authors self-published in the beginning because of a lot of issues mentioned here.


#70

Hmm, so the YouTube authors had self published in the beginning. What changed? Are they traditional published now?

I know me just saying things should change is not going to make things change. I know it doesn’t work like that. I just wish things were different. People took chances.

For example, I’ve recently started querying again after taking almost a year hiatus from it, and it was right back to where it left off, same responses, subjective. I only tested it out five times.


#71

Yeah I have been in the creative field for a long time.

The deep desire for things to be less subjective has been around for decades. In writing and traditional work. Same thing with music. It’s one of the biggest issues in the creative industries - we are all subject to the gatekeepers that get us to the people we need to. I know artists who are AMAZING but their stuff is “not right” or “doesn’t say enough” and yet the guy who painted a green square is somehow famous.

Some youtubers:
Jenna Moreci
Kim Chance
Heart Breathings

I don’t know if they are still self-published or not. But they initially chose it for the reasons here. For them, they are now pretty famous online and can push past the gatekeepers and go straight to publishing houses. All the publishers really want is money, and if you’re famous you can almost guarantee good sales.

Alexa Donne is a youtuber who traditionally published, but she has great videos with so much advice.

The other big issue I hear everywhere from these authors is a publisher still completely expects you to market your own book. They only start marketing once you start making good money. OR if they just love your story, but that’s a rarer thing.

Publishing is a long, long hill to climb.


#72

Oh the dreadful word, marketing. I’ve never been good at it. I remember when the internet first got really popular and fan sites were like the next best thing, I created one.

Well, long story short, the site only got noticed by the artist and became popular when other fans promoted the site. Or maybe because we all got in a rival beef with another site and drama began lol. I can’t remember. It was a very long time ago.

But wow, so publishers are still looking for an author to market themselves. Very interesting.


#73

Oh yeah. The market is so saturated they they just have so many titles under their belt. With the internet, they realize that authors can carry the weight of marketing. At least initially.

That’s probably why a lot of agents/publishers have a lot of books that don’t sell. They leave it up to the author, and if the author didn’t build a platform prior to getting signed then it can often be disastrous for the sales. And then they take the title down and tell the author they are no longer selling the book.

Every now and then a publisher will love the story given to them and they will market for you, but it’s a tiny select few and seems to be based on luck.

But! Once you get in and if you do well, they’ll handle a lot of marketing from there.

Essentially we are no longer selling books as authors. We are selling the full package now.

I learned a lot of this from the youtubers I mentioned. And then I watched other channels linked to them as well and they also say the same things.


#74

Wow! Thanks so much for the informative information. Looks like I’m going to start listening to some of those channels you mentioned. Reminds me of ‘insider secrets’ coming from other sources.


#75

It’s really not difficult. Agents are looking for a book that (a) they find compelling (b) is well-written © is in the genre they represent and (d) is likely to sell well.

If your query/book can tick off all 4 of those criteria, then they’ll ask to read the whole thing and offer representation.

Now, to some of your other comments…Most agents are VERY bad at updating things like their client lists or projects that they have sold. So if you’re doing research and find an agent that doesn’t have much listed it COULD be that they don’t have much, or it COULD be that they do, and just haven’t kept up with updating their list.


#76

That’s really not a good sampling. Yes, there are more failures than success stories when it comes to publishing, but that’s not to say that there aren’t authors who sell well. (I’ve sold more than 1.4M copies). But, “selling well” is a subjective statement in and of itself. Is “selling well” (a) selling 5,000 copies (b) earning a full-time living wage from novels © hitting the New York Times bestseller list?

Under those definitions, a good number of authors would qualify for (a), only authors who had been doing regularly releasing books with good sales would qualify for (b), and VERY VERY few would qualify for ©.


#77

Good for you. What works for some many not work for all.


#78

I wouldn’t take it that way. What @AWExley was referring to, is it’s REALLY hard to know who is selling well and who isn’t. Royalty reports come out twice a year, Bookscan data misses a lot of sales. The best way I’ve bee able to determine if an author is selling well or not is to watch their Amazon rankings…and you have to do that over a period of time as they will spike near a release and during or just after a sale.


#79

I tend to not engage with anything that sounds like its leading to an argument, and it sounded like it was to me. A moderator already came in here and said to keep things civil, so I will. I did. And I don’t want to go back to yesterday’s conversation that was between AWE and I.


#80

Just to be clear…you don’t lose the copyright to your work when you go traditional. What you do is “license” someone to sell your intellectual property. And yes, many contracts are for “the life of the copyright” (although an amendment to the copyright law from 1976 allows anyone (even those with “life of copyright terms”) to revert their contracts after 35 years in print.

And, yes, you absolutely need to understand your contract…and in an ideal situation using an IP attorney is the way to go. But they aren’t cheap. And it’s possible you could blow your entire advance on the legal fees to review the contract.

Bottom line…publishing contracts ARE weighted toward the publisher. And some of the most egregious clauses can be changed (even with the help of an IP lawyer) because there are industry standards that all publishers adhere to.

So, it’s not quite as simple as “have an IP attorney look over it.” Because the only thing they can do is say, “yes there is nothing that goes against industry standard” or “you need to change these to fall within the industry standard.” But that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a “good contract.” Just that it’s not “worse” than what everyone is getting.


#81

I HIGHLY doubt it. “Pay what you want” has yet to catch on anywhere, and since many of the people on Wattpad skew toward a younger audience (who feels somewhat entitled to free content), the chances of making much money does not seem like a good bet to me.


#83

Because most publishers don’t take unsolicited manuscripts. You CAN submit to small publishers without an agent, but if you want to be published through one of the big-five imprints, the only real way to do that is through an agent.

I’ve not seen any data that suggests a change in the “no unsolicited manuscripts” stance since self-publishing has gained momentum.