Author Topic: My little dilemma (a glitch in the success story)  (Read 11212 times)

Offline Alien

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Re: My little dilemma (a glitch in the success story)
« Reply #30 on: February 24, 2008, 12:26:06 PM »

Thanks. I think that the oversupply of writer/agent ratio undoubtedly contribute to agent arrogance (another peeve as I read through Herman;s Guide--as a group agents seem to be saying "Once we have a deal, please evaporate; we really hate writer's who expect to be kept abreast of developments by insisting we communicate.") and agent ability to dictate terms; but the same could be said for real estate agents. You can't swing a skinny cat in California without hitting a real estate agent. And a RE agent will exude service for ready, able, and willing client. There is a finite pool of present-day transactions. I'm guessing the same must be true (if it follows common economic models) for literary agents. If the product is really good an agent should be comparably motivated. And exclusivity discussions might naturally ensue, but as negotiated (a "what can you do for me Agent?" expected in return) not pre-emptively. I can't truck with a faux-genteel expectation that is self-serving. I can live with exclusivity once it's negotiated freely. I concede my position is uninformed by experience, but I can assure that it's my default and need to be persuaded differently before giving ground easily.

I like your comment about how sites like this empower. Knowledge is power, and the book business is already undergoing a revolution.

But now I'm steaming all over again thinking about the many agent comments about writers being "clingy" and therefore undesireable which I translate in part to mean writers who had the temerity to say, "Hey, you know that book promotion thing we signed--the one where you try to get my work published--how's that going? And the unified agent response is "I'm busy. If you could only see how much I do in a day." This type of response would be death to an RE agent--the customer must feel like it's all about them or the relationship fractures. Agents, are after all, middlemen in a service industry.

A bit of a peeve for me: the expectation of exclusivity.

In a previous life I spent years both managing and working as a real estate AGENT. Granted, a different type of agent, but the legal theory of agency applies to any type of agent. And there is no pre-paperwork obligation to exclusivity. The more I keep seeing this stuff around ("We expect exclusivity") the more it irks me. There isn't a real estate or loan agent alive who hasn't been "shopped" while dedicating time and effort to a client they end up losing. It's part of the business model and partly why an agent must gain five clients to close two transactions. I can't sympathize with literary agents who expect instant exclusivity.

And ethics? Is it ethical for an agent to restrict your potential market while they have no commitment to you? I certainly don't think so. Exclusivity expectations are words to dissuade the timid with no teeth in them--they serve to protect an agent who doesn't want to get caught spending time on something that may never result in a paycheck (literary agents may argue that even when they sign authors they have no certainty of landing a deal and therefore it's truly unfair to abuse them--hogwash--no different for many other professions). Unless you feel morally obligated because of some asserted verbal commitment, void the exclusivity expectatiion at will. My soap-box-cents-worth.

The problem is, Alien, it's a buyer's market, not a sellers.  There are a a million-million writers trying to get published, and one million good writers trying to get published.  There are how many legitimate literary agencies?  So they can afford to run writers through the hoops.  The nice thing is that writers are leveling the playing field a bit in that, with sites like these, they are educating themselves and other writers.  The exclusivity, though, is something I would only grant a top agent, and then only if I really thought they were serious, not just going to "lose" the manuscript amongst all the others they put calls in for as happens much too often.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2008, 12:39:52 PM by Alien »

Offline justwrite

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Re: My little dilemma (a glitch in the success story)
« Reply #31 on: February 24, 2008, 01:00:00 PM »
Sorry, Dan. If it sounds too good to be true..than it is—too good to be true.

Aud is totally absolutely right. There are no shortcuts. If your work is solid the agents will JUMP. Look at Lege for cryin' out loud. Ten queries and out of those, I think about six or seven requests (so far).

If you think your ms needs polishing then I know a legitimate editor who is very reasonable. In fact I am going to use her before I send my revise out. Let me know. If you think it's good to go, then start querying REAL agents.

Like Aud says, money flows to the writer, not the other way around.

Be glad you have us to set you straight.


Offline Chelc

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Re: My little dilemma (a glitch in the success story)
« Reply #32 on: February 24, 2008, 06:23:05 PM »
Dan I'm so sorry we can't give you a positive response to your dilemma, and I'm sure you're hesitant to steer away from WH when you were so close to representation...but isn't it better to be safe than sorry?

Offline JeanneT

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Re: My little dilemma (a glitch in the success story)
« Reply #33 on: February 25, 2008, 12:18:47 PM »
Sad to say, but it always sends up red flags when an agent is too eager. A good agent (and even some bad agents) get hundreds of queries a month. They shouldn't be falling all over themselves for a client. As has been pointed out, a bad agent can be far worse than no agent. An agent who sends out bundled mss can spoil any chances for a good novel EVER selling.

Some of the bad agents out there aren't really scammers (and there is actually no evidence this one is) but simply incompetent. Be very, very careful.
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