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Workshop Transcript

The Truth About Agents

with Linda Joy Singleton & Verla Kay

 

VerlaKay: Anyone have any questions about how the workshops are conducted before we start?

Miriam: you talk we listen, right?

VerlaKay: Nope

LindaJS: like we can't waste time with greetings like "hi" and "welcome back" and "bye"

LisaW: RIGHT!!

Haldane-: I assume you'll prompt us for our questions when it's time?

VerlaKay: We ask questions...everyone throws in their input...THEN we talk.

LindaJS: questions usually are on-going unless specifically asked to refrain

VerlaKay: And if you ask a question and we don't answer it...then DO ask it again...we probably just missed seeing it.

Karma passes dori some cheescake.

VerlaKay: Hello Wing. Welcome to Kidlit.

dori: Cheesecake! Thanks!

LisaW: mmm. cheescake.

LindaJS: just about time to start.....(ticking minutes)

Karma passes cheescake to everyone, except Verla...

VerlaKay: Ha! I quit my diet today. I will take some of that cheesecake. Been STARVING myself and only lost ONE pound. Hmph. Not worth starving for one measley little pound!

LindaJS: But you don't want to find that pound again, kia

Karma: shhhh....

*** VerlaKay has set the topic on channel #Kidlit to The Truth About Agents workshop is now in progress

Karma slinks to her chair.

dori: Pull up a chair, Wing

wing: thanks

Karma: Dori, lay off the vodka!

Karma: :)

 

NOTE: :) is a "happy face" in "chat talk"

 

VerlaKay: Okay, everyone. This workshop is ready to begin. I think most everyone knows both Linda and I, but for anyone who doesn't, we will now introduce ourselves.

VerlaKay: Linda....you may be first

LindaJS: I'm Linda Joy Singleton, author of 19 books, 10 which were sold by an agent

LindaJS: Verla's turn...

VerlaKay: I'm Verla Kay, soon to be published picture book author with four picture books currently under contract with Putnam Books

VerlaKay: Both Linda and I have agents..and both of us have sold books WITHOUT agents

LindaJS: I used to tease that I could sell books, just couldn't get an agent

VerlaKay: And we hope to help all of you to make good choices about whether or not to get an agent and what to do about one if you DO get one

VerlaKay: How many books did you sell before you got your agent, linda?

LindaJS: nine...well 11 if you count the two that were cancelled

VerlaKay: By the way, we ENCOURAGE you to ask questions at any time...

VerlaKay: They sold, though, linda. So they count

Miriam: how did each of you find your agent?

LindaJS: Verla goes first...(g)

 

NOTE: <g> = grin in "chat talk"

 

VerlaKay: I had two books sold and a third contract almost ready to be negotiated before I got my agent

VerlaKay: LOL

 

NOTE: LOL is "Laughing Out Loud" in "chat talk"

 

VerlaKay: I found mine in the local motel where I worked, Miriam.

LindaJS: (Verla loves to tell this story--I enjoy listening)

LisaW: Tell it Verla

VerlaKay: I checked in a couple one night and while talking, we found out that I was an author with two picture books under contract and he was the father in law of the chairman of the board of Curtis Brown Literary agency in New York

VerlaKay: I showed him some of my work the next night and he recommended me to my agent

VerlaKay: future agent, I mean...

VerlaKay: His son in law's sister...

LisaW: It was Fate

dori: That's not the usual way to select an agent, Verla

VerlaKay: Grin. I know, dori. But then, all things do not happen according to the "rules."

VerlaKay: I got my first agent "according to the rules" and she was a BAD agent and a nightmare!

LisaW: Do tell

Miriam: tell us

Miriam: what made your first agent bad, Verla?

VerlaKay: We will get to that in a while, miriam...

 

LindaJS: My story isn't exciting. After years of submitting, rejections, and occasional agent submissions, I read about an agent in Romantic Times who had recently sold kid books, so queried her.

Miriam: Romantic times?

VerlaKay: Linda got HER agent the proper way

VerlaKay: Linda sold YA romances

VerlaKay: as well as mid grade books

LindaJS: I was quite involved in Romance Writers--that's where I learned professional writing skills

LindaJS: I've been with my agent for four years now, and I like her a lot

LindaJS: But I will admit, I think there is more power (perhaps) being represented by a strong agency, like Verla

LindaJS: although it doesn't always feel that way

 

wing: Is a literary agency just a group of agents for authors? VerlaKay: Yes, wing

 

VerlaKay: Okay...first question...What is an agent? Anyone?

Miriam: someone who represents you and your work?

VerlaKay: Yes, miriam! A gold star for you.

VerlaKay: A person who works FOR you

VerlaKay: An agent is someone that will handle the BUSINESS end of your writing for you

VerlaKay: There are lots of different kinds of agents. Some do more of one thing, some more of another...and all of them will handle your money.

LindaJS: Some agents offer critiques & suggest rewrites, others simply submit

 

LisaW: Which kinds do you 2 have?

VerlaKay: I have an agent who does NO critiques.

LindaJS: And my agent suggests rewrites--which helps me

VerlaKay: I send her a manuscript and she says, Yes. This is ready to send out. Or, NO. I don't think we should send this out. Period.

LindaJS: (Of course, perhaps I need critiquing more than Verla-<g>)

VerlaKay: My agent's philosophy is this: A writer writes. An editor edits. An agent takes care of the writer's business affairs.

LindaJS: My agent wants to help make my manuscripts more marketable, so her comments are useful

 

 

dori: What's the best way to find a reputable agent?

LindaJS: I'd say the best way is to meet them at conferences or get references from other writers

Miriam: I met my agent at a conference.

LindaJS: I met my agent AFTER I'd hired her

VerlaKay: I met my bad agent in person at a conference. Didn't meet my good one in person until two months ago.

dori: Verla, what precautions could you have taken to avoid signing up with a BAD agent, even after you met face to face?

VerlaKay: We will talk about that later, dori

 

VerlaKay: Here are some of the things that agents MIGHT do for you.

VerlaKay: Linda, help me here!

LindaJS: keep track of your sales

LindaJS: manage your finances

VerlaKay: Get your manuscripts looked at by houses that don't accept unsolicited manuscripts

LindaJS: Advise you on the direction your career should go

LindaJS: handle your rejections & submission

VerlaKay: critique your manuscripts

VerlaKay: bolster your confidence

VerlaKay: be a good friend

VerlaKay: give advice

 

LindaJS: Now to what an agent Can NOT do for you

VerlaKay: CANNOT work miracles

LindaJS: An agent can't sell an unsaleable manuscript

VerlaKay: CANNOT sell an unsaleable manuscript

VerlaKay: Usually can't get more money for your first book sale than you could get on your own

VerlaKay: (Notice I said USUALLY. Linda Smith is a shining example of the rare exception to THAT rule)

wing: Really?

LindaJS: (Jump in LinS whenever with your experiences)

Karma: But that was because she obviously had a classic....

VerlaKay: Really, wing

Karma: they knew in their hearts she would be big.

VerlaKay: Okay. Who NEEDS an agent?

VerlaKay: Anyone?

LindaJS: I can look back at my career and see that I didn't need an agent at the beginning

VerlaKay: I didn't need one, either.

VerlaKay: Not at first.

Miriam: why?

Karma: But is it okay to want one?

VerlaKay: Oh, of course it's okay, Karma!

LindaJS: I needed one for a mid-grade series sale, to make that connection with the senior editor, but not for the single books I did

VerlaKay: I got just as good of terms on my first two sales without an agent as I would have WITH one. But I don't have to split my money with anyone on those books.

Karma: If any agent will take me, I want them.

VerlaKay: No, Karma. You do NOT want just ANY agent!

Gail: Verla has a horror story to tell soon.

Karma: I know I don't want ANY agent.

Karma: That was tongue in cheek.

Karma: I want any GOOD agent. :)

Karma: I don't want to deal with the fuss of marketing.

LindaJS: Marketing is hard, but when you're beginning, an agent isn't necessary

Miriam: why linda?

LinS: But if you have one from the start, it may set a precedent for certain aspects of your career, don't ya think?

Miriam: what do you mean LinS?

 

VerlaKay: Anything that an agent can sell, YOU can sell on your own.

LinS: I disagree, Verla!!

VerlaKay: This is NOT true in adult sales. But it IS in children's book sales.

LinS: I'm no expert, having just gotten an agent, but I think it's not true that anything your agent sells is just as likely YOU can sell

Miriam: I agree Lins.

LinS: Maybe you shouldn't, miriam

VerlaKay: MOST of the time, lin. Not ALL the time, but the MAJORITY of stories that an agent sells can ALSO be sold directly by the author.

VerlaKay: But in YOUR case, it may be different, LinS. Because YOUR case is VERY different from the normal Author-Agent story! You are special, LinS.

Miriam: I guess I don't understand why a person with a first book shouldn't have an agent

LindaJS: If I'd had an agent from the beginning, I wouldn't have worked for packagers, which I enjoyed

LindaJS: My agent won't send to the smaller markets or packagers--her eye is on larger prizes, so I would have missed out on my beginning sales

Gail: Explain packagers. I read it all the time but am not clear on exactly what they are doing.

LindaJS: (Packagers put together series like Nancy Drew)

LindaJS: I notice that my agent isn't submitting to smaller houses for my single titles, which might work better

 

wing: When you have an agent, are you allowed to market yourself to smaller presses?

Karma: Some agents allow writers to market, and still take a percent.

Karma: Others don't let you at all.

LinS: I think agents try to keep you at larger houses, or ONE house

LinS: but smaller presses aren't a good idea always.

LindaJS: Some of the places that are smaller houses are very respected houses, like Boyds Mills

LinS: Harper collins wouldn't want another book of mine sold now to another press because it would come out at around the same time

LinS: I think

Karma: That's where right of first refusal comes in. Right, Verla?

LinS: It's also sometimes a courtesy, karma

VerlaKay: Right, Karma

LinS: My clause is scratched

Karma: I want to work with one house, if possible.

LindaJS: You're right, LinS -- your agent will lead your career carefully now -- a good reason to have one

LindaJS: Working for one house would be nice--that's the way it used to be

Karma: I'd hope an agent could help me negotiate that.

LinS: They are more likely to buy more of your books, I think, karma

Karma: If you sell. :)

LinS: and sometiomes BEFORE you sell

Karma: so does HC.

 

NOTE: HC = Harcourt Brace Publisher

 

Karma: Greenwillow still does it.

 

VerlaKay: Okay. Who are the people who need an agent?

LindaJS: To sell mid-grade series in today's market, I do think you need an agent

VerlaKay: Yes. If you want to sell series, you need an agent

VerlaKay: Also, when you are already selling your books, but are having trouble negotiating the terms you want on your contracts

VerlaKay: When you are so busy writing that you no longer have time to deal with the business end of your career, then you need an agent

 

VerlaKay: Remember that an agent, no matter HOW good, will NEVER be able to sell a bad manuscript!

LinS: That's true

 

Tinaeva: Do you need more than one ready manuscript to interest an agent?

LindaJS: When I submitted to my agent, I gave her a choice of manuscripts, and she only wanted ONE of them

 

VerlaKay: And publishers WANT to discover new and wonderful talent. They really HOPE to find that jewel in their slush piles

 

VerlaKay: Okay...HOW do you find an agent?

VerlaKay: You can do like I did...and use what I call, "The BIG MOUTH Method"

VerlaKay: Or you can go to conferences

LindaJS: I simply queried my agent and she responded by telling me to submit

VerlaKay: (that's how I found & got my "nightmare" agent)

 

Tinaeva: What is the Big Mouth method?

VerlaKay: That's when you talk so much to so many people about your writing, Tina, that eventually someone who "counts" hears you and gets interested in taking you on as a client. (Heh heh heh.)

LinS: One client recommends another new person

VerlaKay: Right. And sometimes you can get a referral from another writer. But I would caution you to be VERY careful in asking for that. Because you don't want to put your author friend on the spot.

LindaJS: I've recommended people, very cautiously, to my agent, but it hasn't worked out well

LinS: she likes a particular style, Linda Joy?

LindaJS: My agent has only taken on one person I've recommended--and she hasn't sold yet, either

VerlaKay: It's very important to understand that just like editors, every agent will have a different way of looking at manuscripts.

LindaJS: One time a friend was hurt by my agent's rejection, which made me feel bad

LindaJS: And in my agent's case, she actually does more adult fiction than juvenile

VerlaKay: Also, even though your author friend may LOVE your work, the agent may feel for lots of different reasons that he or she cannot adequately market and represent your work.

LinS: But they are always looking for new talent

VerlaKay: It does NOT necessarily mean your work isn't good enough..just that it doesn't fit the "style" that THAT particular agent prefers to work with.

LinS: and YOU make THEM money too...I'm just discovering that...so it's a nice arrangement

LindaJS: yup, LinS

LinS: a cozy arrangement (as Mr. potter would say, Karma and Lisa..haha)

Karma: ha ha!

Karma: my favorite line.

LinS: Verla, I think it's important for everyone to know that even if one agent doesn't like you, it doesn't mean your work is bad. I was very disappointed one day, when your agent said no, thrilled the next, when mine said yes... so if you want an agent, just keep trying

 

LindaJS: I met an agent at a conference once that was BAD--where I ended up sending a registered letter asking for my stuff back

Laila: what do you mean by bad?

Miriam: just no response Linda?

LindaJS: Miriam, did I miss something (no response?)

Miriam: why you asked for your MS back Linda?

 

NOTE: MS = Manuscript

 

VerlaKay: Bad agents. Linda....let's skip up on the agenda and talk about what to watch out for in agents.

LindaJS: oh--I asked for the manuscript back because she was doing NOTHING--not even answering phone calls or letters

Miriam: Gotcha Linda

 

Laila: I attended Hofstra's conference. Angela Shelf , the writer told us not to bother with agents.

LindaJS: did she say why, Laila?

Laila: she said , agents give you three tries to sell, if you don't they drop you like hot potato.

Karma: sigh...

Miriam: not mine, Laila

LinS: Not true

LindaJS: My agent submitted to about 7 places for my first sale before it sold, took about 7 months

LinS: Maybe some do, Laila

Laila: Angela was a bit unorthodocts (sp) she also gave that advice NOT to mention that we are submitting simultaneously--you guys better not laugh at my spelling!

 

NOTE: Correct spelling is unorthodox (I looked it up)

 

Karma: I would NEVER laugh at bad spleling.

Karma: I cannot spell.

LinS: we love you for it

LindaJS: Spell-check loves you for it, too

Laila: I wasn't impressed with Angela, to tell you the truth. her advice wasn't fit for aspiring writers, which most who attended that conference was.

LindaJS: (Good to trust your instincts, Laila)

 

VerlaKay: Okay. Back to the bad agents.

 

VerlaKay: Things to watch out for when picking an agent

Miriam: tell your story, Verla

Karma: YES

Karma: I'm dying to hear the nightmare.

Karma: I've been wondering forever!!!

LindaJS: (sitting back--letting Verla type)

VerlaKay: I'll run through the danger signals FIRST, Karma

LinS: Always check and see what the percentage an agent makes from sales are...if they charge to read...chances are, it's because that's how they make money off of YOU. BEWARE of fee charging agents

LindaJS: Good agents don't charge reading fees (as a rule)

 

VerlaKay: Right! Reading fees

VerlaKay: Excessive extra charges

VerlaKay: Unimpressive recent sales records

VerlaKay: Blatant advertisements looking for newbies

LinS: magazine ads

LinS: in writer's magazines

VerlaKay: Agencies that seem to make their money off of the AUTHORS and not the authors' sales

VerlaKay: Difficulty in reaching the agent/agency

VerlaKay: Slow response times

LinS: always too busy, never calls

VerlaKay: Unimpressive recent sales in the same genre as yours

VerlaKay: Only ONE agent in agency

VerlaKay: Unwilling to answer questions

VerlaKay: Reluctance to give out references

VerlaKay: GET REFERENCES and CHECK them out!

LindaJS: Also it's good if an agent has ties with publishing--like used to be an editor

LinS: That's where referrals are nice

 

Laila: Verla, this question may have already been asked , but , i'll ask anyway. which came first...your sale or your agent?

 

Laila: Karma, are you actively looking for an agent, or just trying to sell by yourself?

Karma: I've subbed to one agent so far Laila.

Karma: And done lots of self marketing.

Laila: any luck with the agent?

Karma: Not yet Laila.

Karma: I just subbed my stuff though.

VerlaKay: Right. Okay. My BAD agent story.

Karma: FINALLY.

VerlaKay: I was at a conference and had a one on one meeting with an agent. She had been highly recommended by another author that I very much respected

VerlaKay: I was very impressed by the woman. Liked her a LOT. I told her that I knew I was not yet ready for an agent and she agreed. But she said she liked my work, and when I felt I was ready to call her.

VerlaKay: I had gotten a phone call from a senior editor of Orchard Books. SHE had been looking for ME for two days...had seen a glimpse of one of my stories at another conference and thought she had the perfect illustrator for it...

VerlaKay: I really thought the chances were GOOD for a sale.

VerlaKay: So I called this lady. It was about a year or so later.

VerlaKay: I SHOULD have known that something wasn't right when we first talked.

LinS: why?

VerlaKay: Because about 8 months before that, I had written to the agent to tell her that Scholastic had been holding my manuscript for several months

VerlaKay: It had been sent on to the senior editor and they had asked to see my second one, as well.

VerlaKay: She NEVER replied to that letter.

Suzy-Q: and?

VerlaKay: When I mentioned it during our phone call, she gave me a ridiculous story about how her secretary had mis-filed that letter and she had JUST found it...

 

 

VerlaKay: To make a very LONG story short, I signed the agency agreement with her.

Miriam: a written agreement?

VerlaKay: Yes, Miriam, a written agreement. Thank Heavens!

VerlaKay: Months went by.

VerlaKay: Many months. I never heard from her again.

LinS: did you phone her, Verla?

VerlaKay: I called her dozens of times. No answer. Just an answering machine

LinS: and did you then lose those prospective sales?

LinS: or try to save them on your own?

VerlaKay: Answer to that question is coming, LinS...

VerlaKay: I called and told her to call me collect. STILL no answer

Gail: At which point you should have known.

Karma: ACK!

VerlaKay: I called person to person. No answer

Karma: That's awful.

VerlaKay: I wrote to her. No answer

VerlaKay: I wrote and sent her a SASE. No answer!

 

NOTE: SASE = Self-Addressed, Stamped Envelope

 

Laila: goodness!

LinS: I would show up at her door and bop her one

VerlaKay: I wrote and sent her a SAS postcard. NO ANSWER!

LindaJS: (Show up with 8 kids and all bop her)

adnil: wonder what happened?

VerlaKay: This went on for over FOUR MONTHS

Gail: This is why Verla has gray hair.

VerlaKay: Finally, I faxed and mailed her a letter telling her I was severing our relationship.

Miriam: and?

VerlaKay: STILL no answer. I have YET to hear from her and that was about 5 years ago

Laila: I would have done that after the second month, Verla.

LinS: perhaps she's dead

Miriam: oh my goodness

Gail: Maybe she died?

Tinaeva: Maybe she's dead

LinS: and what happened to Orchard Verla?

VerlaKay: Orchard eventually returned the manuscript, rejected.

adnil: what if something happened to her?

LisaW: My thought exactly, LinS

LinS: a shame...because it's nice to strike while the Iron is hot

LindaJS: as a client, if an agent dies, you become part of their estate (a reason to get a young agent)

LindaJS: at least a HEALTHY agent

VerlaKay: No, I heard later that she did the same thing to a lot of other authors. Decided to just write herself and not represent others. But you would think she would have had the courtesy to at least inform her clients of that fact.

Tinaeva: What about Scholastic?

Gail: I will not be a part of anyone's estate.

LinS: Verla..did she sell well for the lady friend of yours??

VerlaKay: She turned my friend down, lin

LinS: No, I mean the one you said you trusted with the referral VerlaKay: Right, lin. She had HEARD that this agent was good from others...

VerlaKay: She wasn't her client, either.

LinS: oh

 

LindaJS: Your royalties become "estate" if you've sold

LinS: Has she continued to do so?

Laila: it depends on the signed contract, Gail, I think.

VerlaKay: The SCARY part in this is that IF one of my books HAD sold while I was still her client, she would have been in control of my money from the sales of that book for AS LONG AS THE BOOK WAS IN PRINT!

Laila: then you were lucky, Verla that she didn't bother answering you!

VerlaKay: Yes, I was!

Tinaeva: So does that mean that you've sold your books on your own, Verla?

LindaJS: Verla sold the first two on her own

 

LindaJS: An agent that I submitted to twice, and who refused me twice, was recently exposed in a MAJOR scandal--so I was lucky to be turned down

LindaJS: Another friend of mine had a similar BAD experience with an agent--wasted about 2 years thinking her material was being submitted, then later told it wasn't by editors

 

Miriam: this is very helpful, Verla. Now I know my agent is good.

LindaJS: why, Miriam?

Miriam: Because she always answers my calls, always informs me of what's going on. Is very excited about my writing.

LindaJS: that's good, Miriam

LinS: An agent should be enthusiastic about you and your writing...that makes all the difference, I think

 

VerlaKay: Be VERY careful who you pick for an agent because the publisher sends ALL your money to your agent. THEN the agency takes out their share and forwards/cuts a check to you for your portion.

LindaJS: My agent seems to have more confidence than I do in some proposals, while not liking others at all

LindaJS: One reason to try to get some credits (magazine, articles, books) before getting an agent is that it'll give you a better chance to get a respected one

 

VerlaKay: Okay...What should you LOOK for in a GOOD agent?

VerlaKay: Sense of humor

VerlaKay: Similar goals

VerlaKay: Compatibility

VerlaKay: Respect

VerlaKay: Efficiency

VerlaKay: Trustworthiness

VerlaKay: Easy to reach

VerlaKay: Prompt response times

VerlaKay: Willingness to answer ALL your questions

VerlaKay: Reputation/stability of agent AND agency

VerlaKay: More than one agent in the agency!

VerlaKay: Impressive recent sales in the same genre as yours

VerlaKay: GET REFERENCES and CHECK them out!

 

LinS: Verla, I've heard that agents rarely take on Picture book writers...no money in them...and they rarely take on folks without a track record...you find that true..LJ or Verla?

LindaJS: My agent took me on because she hoped to sell a SERIES, not a single book

VerlaKay: My agent will take on PB writers, lin.

 

NOTE: PB = Picture Book/s

 

LinS: few do, though

LinS: Mine will, too

VerlaKay: But my agent only takes on writers that she really LOVES the work of.

LindaJS: The agent has to have faith in the project to be a salesperson for it

LinS: and STYLE counts, too

 

 

Laila: Verla, how do we be careful when we are looking for anything resembling an agent? We are hungry writers , looking to sell.

VerlaKay: Make sure that the person is compatible with your personality

LindaJS: Actually, Verla, I know of one author who has a high-powered agent who is kind of scary--but quite good

VerlaKay: You will be spending many years with this person. Pick them as carefully as you would a spouse!

LinS: Verla's agent didn't like me..my agent did..so it worked out well

LindaJS: So compatibility might not matter as much as being a good business-person

VerlaKay: I know one agent that scares me to death! I would NEVER want THAT agent. And she is reputed to be one of the BEST kid's agents.

LindaJS: Probably the same one I'm refering to (g)

LinS: But I think they have to be compatible to your style or they won't send your work to the right places

VerlaKay: It depends a LOT on what YOU want from the relationship

Gail: I have been told not to let the agent stereotype you. If they only like picture books from you, and you write all over the map, that is not the agent for you.

LindaJS: It helps to have compatibilty--I'm just saying sometimes being a good friend isn't as good as just being a solid business-person

VerlaKay: For instance...do you have a great sense of humor. You had BETTER pick an agent who also has a sense of humor or sooner or later, there will be a misunderstanding

LinS: and aggressive

Miriam: do you think that sometimes we expect too much too quick from an agent?

LindaJS: LinS's agent is defnitely agressive!

LindaJS: More than mine, I think

LindaJS: Of course we do...but we're used to waiting

LinS: yes, he faxes all my manuscripts and follows with a phone call

VerlaKay: What method of operation does your agent use? Is the agent very aggressive? Passive? You need to find one that will market your books the way YOU want them marketed

LindaJS: Does he fax longer manuscripts or just pic books?

LinS: some don't do it that way, but have equal success

LinS: He faxed 11,000 words of my novel...all I had

LindaJS: Of course, you don't want too aggressive of an agent. There is ONE I suspect as being unpopular with editors--too pushy

LinS: and to some he faxed only ten pages...that's what sold my YA

 

NOTE: YA = Young Adult Novel

 

VerlaKay: Do you want your agent to critique your work? Lyra does...I don't. We both have GREAT agents for US.

VerlaKay: Because hers DOES and mine DOESN"T

LinS: Mine doesn't critique, but he makes suggestions

LindaJS: My agent recently liked a picture book I wrote, but said it wasn't "there" yet and suggested rhyme--which I'm doing. Without this encouragement, I wouldn't have attempted it.

VerlaKay: What degree of friendliness does your agent hold?

LinS: Thats nice

LindaJS: I like my agent a lot, and hope she's as good as I think because I won't "divorce" her

VerlaKay: Are you a big hugger? Do you want to really get to KNOW your agent? Then you need to find one that feels the same way

LindaJS: Hugging? Verla, that is NOT important!

LinS: I might hug mine now..haha

LisaW: I DON'T want an agent hugging me!

dori: Enthusiastic... honest....knowledgeable...

VerlaKay: Yes, dori. Those are all other important things to consider, too. Thank you.

 

VerlaKay: Okay, Where to look for an agent? You can get the Literary Agents Guide book

VerlaKay: And SCBWI has an agent's guide

 

NOTE: SCBWI = Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators. A link to their website is on the Links page in the Just for Writer's section of this website.

 

VerlaKay: Besides the places we discussed earlier

LindaJS: Also notice in the books you read when someone dedicates it to their agent--a relationship that worked

 

Miriam: where is the SCBWI agent guide?

LindaJS: SCBWI has some kind of agent list you can order for price of stamps

VerlaKay: You send for it at the National office, Miriam.

VerlaKay: If you send a Special Delivery SASE with $3.00 postage on it, you can request ALL the SCBWI information pages and that will be just one of the things they send you.

 

dori: But there are thousands of agents listed in the Literary Agents Guidebook. How do you know which to approach?

 

LinS: Verla...can we talk about how to apporoach an agent? Cover letters, etc?

LindaJS: Ah--good question

VerlaKay: Yep.

VerlaKay: That's next, lin

LindaJS: I approached mine with a simple query, stating my background & proposals

VerlaKay: You will approach them EXACTLY like you would a publisher. With a cover letter and perfect manuscript.

VerlaKay: Or query.

LinS: I think you should be yourself...then let your writing do the talking

LindaJS: She responded by saying I could send her a few manuscripts, which resulted in her picking ONE she submitted

LinS: I sent mine a partial novel and two PB's

 

VerlaKay: Yikes. We are running out of time.

VerlaKay: Type faster, linda!

LindaJS: Me?

VerlaKay: you!

LindaJS: I told you time would fly--that'd we have to have a Part II

Miriam: I vote for a part II

VerlaKay: Okay, we will have to go into agency agreements another time.

 

LindaJS: We didn't discuss agency agreements...Verla has one with her agent and I don't.

 

VerlaKay: Some agency contracts are for just one manuscript. Some are for your lifetime, until cancelled.

Miriam: how long is yours for, Verla?

VerlaKay: Mine is forever, miriam.

 

Miriam: Did either of you sign an agreement or was it verbal?

LindaJS: Mine was verbal.

VerlaKay: I have a contract

Miriam: mine is verbal

LindaJS: If my agent wanted a contract, I would have done it

LindaJS: But so far we work well together...just wish publishers were as agreeable

VerlaKay: I like the contract, because if I ever DO want to sever the connection, there will be NO confusion as to where the liability ends.

VerlaKay: On both our parts.

 

LindaJS: If I had had an agent for my packaging sales, I might have been better protected

dori: I think it would be nice to have someone handle the marketing and business end of writing

Karma: YES! dori, I agree.

Karma: I hate marketing.

LindaJS: It IS nice, but sometimes I get impatient and send things out on my own

VerlaKay: If you want to submit on your own, you have to talk to your agent.

VerlaKay: Some allow it, some do NOT.

LindaJS: My agent doesn't mind my submitting on my own. I do this when she doesn't like something I've written and I like it.

adnil: Does your agent take a percentage of the sale if you sell on your own Linda?

LindaJS: If I made a sale on my own (hasn't happened since my agent took me on) I would ask my agent to handle the contract and she'd only charge 10%

LindaJS: I want her to protect me from myself when it comes to contracts

VerlaKay: Mine does NOT if I sell on my own, adnil, but I ONLY sell on my own to magazines.

adnil: oh- that's a good idea

VerlaKay: She handles ALL book sales for me.

LinS: and you may get more money with an agent

LinS: and a better contract, with raises and such

VerlaKay: LOL. It's good to LEARN the marketing end of it, though, Karma. Because then you will better understand what your agent is doing for you.

dori: I think a good agent would KNOW the best place for your manuscript... instead of guessing

LindaJS: My agent got me more money, which took care of her %

LinS: They do, Dori

LindaJS: yes, dori

Karma: I have learned the market end Verla...

Karma: I'm sick of it already!

VerlaKay: Sometimes, dori. It depends again on your agent.

LindaJS: And sometimes agents lunch with editors--this happened recently. My agent lunched because of ME--only I was still rejected

Karma: I want to write..write..write...

LinS: Me too, Karma...that's ther best part..I can concentrate on writing

Karma: I envy you Linda.

VerlaKay: My agent did NOT get more money for me. But she DID get MUCH better contract terms for me on my last two sales.

Karma: But you're the next Jane Yolen....

LinS: and not worry about where to send stuff

LindaJS: The market is more difficult than it was when I began writing, so I understand how you feel Karma

Karma: (only better IMO)

 

NOTE: IMO = In My Opinion

 

VerlaKay: Any other questions before we end? (We are already over our hour!)

 

dori: Hopefully, an agent would have inside information

LinS: and good manuscripts DO flounder in slushpiles sometimes...maybe many times

LinS: because they are read by a reader and not an editor...makes all the difference

LindaJS: My agent submits directly to the senior editor, which is one advantage

LinS: A BIG advantage, i think

Karma: I thought editors would work with you....

Karma: Now I know. the Manuscript must be PERFECT.

Miriam: this has been so informative! Thank you ladies!

dori: Thanks, Verla, LindaJ.. great info!

 

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