Literary Agent Approacing…What Would You Do?

Posted by on Sep 9, 2011 in Uncategorized | 2 comments

I had a brief, but interesting, conversation with a friend of mine the other day. An awesome writer, who just so happens to have a book that is rocking it on the Amazon Best Seller List, was approached by a literary agent. As a writer who dreams of being successful and writing full-time one day (That’s me) I was intrigued by this, and it got me to thinking. What would I do if I were in their shoes?

As the conversation progressed, my friend wasn’t sure if they wanted to sign with an agent. As a writer who has queried and felt the rejection (that’s me again), I didn’t know how to answer this.

Since facing rejection – granted I didn’t query very many agents – I’ve gone out on my own and faced all the challenges indie writers have to face: not only covering the costs for an editor, but finding the right editor for me and my work, getting critique partners, formatting my own work, designing and illustrating (or hiring out) cover art, choosing font design and size, adjusting cover art to work for paperback, getting your own ISBN, getting US Tax ID numbers (for Canadian authors), marketing (I hate that)…okay, that’s a lot, but it really is just scratching the surface, I wasn’t entirely sure what I’d do.

Having a literary agent can do a lot for your writing career. They can help find interest in your book, negotiate film rights, they can sell to a traditional publisher (if you decide to go that route) which as a writer, is appealing. I’d love to just write. I know being a traditionally published writer, there is more to it than that, but in comparison to the indie route, it’s minor, and I really, really, really, really, really, love to write. The other stuff just seems like work. An agent is a professional set of eyes that can help improve your story, help you make a path for your career, and do a million other things. Being a literary agent is no small task. But of course, you don’t just get  a literary agent, you have to pay for one, and the standard cut for an agent is 15%.

My first thought was: but they came to you, that means your can negotiate the rate. This may, or may not be true, but it’s an interesting idea.

Some might think, an agent sees a writer doing well, and they’re moving in to see if that writer is interested in having representation. They see a guaranteed paycheck, but I beg to differ, when it comes to publishing, there is no such thing as a guarantee, and I really don’t see it that way at all. Again, it’s not me, so I’m not sure of the situation exactly, but I highly doubt this is the case.

My point is, this is an interesting thought, and I thought I’d put it out there for all my writer friends.

Whether or not you’ve tried to get an agent before isn’t important. Maybe you tried querying, maybe you didn’t, but one way or another, you chose indie. Now you’re books out there, you’re getting into the flow of how indie life is, and a literary agent approaches you:

Would you be interested in negotiating with them, or would you say “you had your chance, tough luck?”

To be totally honest, this is a pretty vague question, but I’m interested to know your thoughts. For me, I’m not entirely sure. I’d definitely want to talk to the agent, see what they had to say, what kind of commission they wanted, what they could offer me personally, and where they saw my career going. I’d be more than open to having a conversation with them. It doesn’t mean I’d go with it for sure, but I’d definitely want to hear what they had to say.

What would you do?

    2 Comments

  1. I have no idea what I'd say either. I would definitely talk to them, but no clue as to if I'd say yes. Honestly, I don't think I'd want to switch over to traditional publishing, not with the way things are going. But that doesn't mean not having an agent. They do have knowledge and resources and maybe something would work out that it would benefit us both. I won't really know unless I get approached myself.

  2. Depends on who they are and what they're asking. It's critical to determine if they represent similar clients and if our personalities/work styles are like a good fit. Further, some agents will ask that you take down all your books while you work on your career, and it can take years to get a book out through a publisher. That can be a huge income loss for many writers (especially if you're at the level where you're getting approached by agents). If they're willing to negotiate on continuing to sell your books, and if they are a good fit, I would think having the guidance of an agent would be extremely valuable.

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