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Penguinball

Writing Conference - Working with Agents and Publishers

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This post will be a lot shorter than the one on social media. This presentation was by Carolyn Forde of Transatlantic Agency. She is an agent, she started by talking about what an agent does, then went into a question and answer period. Here's some of what she said.

  • An agent is your liaison between yourself and the publishers. They pitch your book to publishers, negotiate the control, and follow up through the whole editing and publishing process. The reason you want an agent is because they have the knowledge, experience, and most importantly, the networking and contacts to get you the best deal possible for your book.
  • Self publishing is a perfectly valid option. Yes, you get the full share of the profits, but also have to do all the work yourself, editing, marketing, dealing with amazon, creating a cover.
  • Agents in Canada typically make 15% commission. Agents in the US usually make 20%, as they are often working with co-agents, and they each get 10%
  • Have your manuscript as polished as can be before sending it to the editor. If this means paying for a freelance editor, so be it (Note, I've seen a lot of advice saying otherwise, as publishing houses HAVE editors, so take this with a grain of salt).
  • When querying, have a thorough understanding of what your book is about, as in, what category does it fit in, what are the industry terms and buzz words that would describe it? Being accurate in describing your book in your query letters is vital.
  • Networking is important, well as building an online presence. Agents and publishers absolutely google you and look at your online presence.
    • I asked what is considered a large audience and she said numbers vary by agents preference, but generally 10k followers is seen as a small but buildable base. You need to be getting 6 figure followers or more before you are considered as having a built in audience already
  • Query letter - you should explain why you are reaching out to that agent, why you think they are a fit for you. This means you had to have researched them first. Don't just blindly submit to everyone
    • To learn more about agents check places like Quill and Choir (might be Canadian only?) and Publisher's Marketplace (paid, $25USD per month). The Marketplace has lists of which agents are taking on clients, and how many deals they've brokered lately. This allows you to make educated guesses about who is active and able to close deals.
  • Querying simultaneously is not only allowed, but expected. It often takes months to hear back, and it isn't feasible to wait 4 months for a no before trying the next person on your list. Just make sure you let the agent know you are querying simultaneously
  • Getting referrals from other authors is a great way to meet agents. Of course this necessitates being friends with published authors.
  • Wait 3-4 months before following up with an agent to see if they have read your query yet. (This number varies a lot online from what I've heard but most sites agree that 2 months is too soon). Do NOT be aggressive and email them constantly, they will absolutely bin your book
  • Try to go with an agent from an established agency. Becoming an agent is like an apprenticeship program, even if they are a junior agent they will still have the support and resources of the rest of the agency. Free agents do not have this support, and may not be able to get you as good a deal
  • NEVER pay reading fees. There are some hybrid companies that are offering both editing and agent services, and some of these are legit, but generally the money show flow TO the author, not away.
  • NEVER sign for lifetime rights to be given away. It can go wrong in so many ways.
  • Series - When querying a book with sequels, don't mention them in your query letter. Say you have a standalone book (make sure it is!) that has sequel potential. If you are signed, THEN you can bring up that there are more of these books (Another reason I heard is that the publisher may have editorial feedback that brings your books in a different direction than what you had in mind, and you don't want effort to go to waste with books that may not fit after the first book is edited)
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On 6/8/2019 at 8:32 PM, Penguinball said:

I asked what is considered a large audience and she said numbers vary by agents preference, but generally 10k followers is seen as a small but buildable base. You need to be getting 6 figure followers or more before you are considered as having a built in audience already

Good grief. *Stares at her measly 500something followers on Twitter and hardly anything on Facebook or Instagram* >.>

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44 minutes ago, Jedi Knight Muse said:

Good grief. *Stares at her measly 500something followers on Twitter and hardly anything on Facebook or Instagram* >.>

Yeeeaaaaah. The takeaway I got from several of the speakers was to just not worry too much about it. Plug away at building a list, but don't make it a priority. Only put time into social media when you don't have other stuff going on. Caveat though, the majority of these speakers were talking from a traditional publishing perspective. A self published author needs to put a lot more work into social media to build their audience.

Again though, marathon, not a sprint. An audience will come over time as you put out material and interact and build relationships.

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On 6/8/2019 at 8:32 PM, Penguinball said:

Agents in Canada typically make 15% commission. Agents in the US usually make 20%, as they are often working with co-agents, and they each get 10%

Here is where I stopped reading. 😄

Roh

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To me the indie publishing movement stems from even more than the agents but they are a big part of what I consider the problem IMO. I'll never think badly of anyone who chooses that route, I just know it is 100% in no reflection of what I'll ever choose for my career.

Roh

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