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Apr. 14th, 2008

 
Authors Talk About Agents

My, how times have changed. Fifteen years ago, when I first began attempting to write for children, I would send my submissions out to major publishers, and they would get read. Granted, they were probably read by the assistant to the assistant to the assistant editor, but they were read, and they were returned with the appropriate form rejection letter. I have a drawer full.


Are those days over? Now, it seems like you can’t even get your manuscript’s envelope opened unless your work has been submitted not by you, but by an agent. Forget hoping for that form rejection letter, much less having an editor read your work straight from the slush pile. In many publishing houses, there is no more slush pile. “Not accepting unsolicited submissions at this time” has become the mainstay. Where does that leave us writers? In many cases, writers seek out agents.


The general opinion these days is somewhat divided, but most folks lean in favor of having an agent, largely because it is so difficult to get your work submitted and read without one.


Fair enough. We can roll with the times, can’t we? So let’s say we are an author just starting out. And we want an agent. Now come the questions. For example, how do I find the right agent for me? How do I tell a good one from a bad one? Can I land an agent if I don’t have any work published? What if my work is very quirky and specialized….is there an agent out there for me? Wouldn’t my energy be better spent writing than submitting to a third party? And what about these agents that think they are editors, and want me to rewrite my entire book before they’ll even consider representing me? What then?


Well. I admit, I don’t know the answers to all those questions. But there is hope!  This week, I have comprised a panel of authors to talk with us about their experiences with their own agents. Hopefully it will take some of the mystique out of the whole “getting an agent” thing. They have some great advice to share.

So tune in tomorrow, and we'll start a four-part agent discussion with our author panel.  See you then!!