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Joe DeRouen, Author of the Small Things trilogy: Agents

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Agents

We were discussing literary agents in the comment section of another blog, and the discussion was so interesting that I thought I'd bring it over here. Agents, like people in general, range from the nice ones to the dreadful ones, and I've encountered all three. Some will blow you off with a tiny slip of paper essentially saying "Thanks for wasting my time." Some will ignore you completely. But the worst will blow you off while also trying to sell you their "editing services," and those are the agents I have absolutely no respect for.

I've been a full-time non-fiction freelancer for twelve years, but have yet to even get my foot in the door in the world of fiction. I've written three novels, the first of which has gone through multiple revisions to the point where I believe I've honed it into something to be proud of. Scratch that: I am proud of it. But that's not enough. I want to sell the damned thing, and its sequels. And, in order to do that, I need an agent.

And it's frustrating. I've been trying to find an agent for going on three years now, which is why I can lay claim to having encountered all of the types mentioned in the first paragraph at the start of this entry. Now I just need to encounter one who'll take the time to actually read the book, and who can hopefully see the potential in not only the novel but in me as well. I'm willing to work hard to make them and the publishing house they sell my novels to a lot of money. I just need to be given the chance.

So, gentle reader, (I always hated that phrase, but it somehow seems appropriate here!) what are some of your experiences - good and bad - with agents?




9 Comments:

At 11:16 AM, Anonymous Mela said...

I don't have much experience yet: Two submissions, two rejections. The first was a handwritten note on my own query letter, basically saying she didn't think my novel was a good fit for her. The other was a form letter saying the same thing. But as it was a form letter, I really don't know how to take it. I have several more agents I'm thinking of querying, but have been a little hesitant. I feel my novel is good. I'm not sure about my query little. *sighs* Oh well . . .

 
At 6:55 PM, Blogger kiwi said...

It's a while ago now, but before I secured representation for my first novel, I sent out as many as eighty queries—some via snail mail, others were e-queries. All of these agents were working with my genre and had sold books similar to my manuscript. From these enquires, I received 90% rejections, some polite, most as form letters. The remaining ten percent asked for partials. In the end two agents offered representation.

Word of advice: play the numbers game, and most important; don’t take your book to market until it is absolutely brilliant.

 
At 3:01 PM, Blogger Richard Arooga said...

I really think that you are too lazy to become a successful writer.

You have not had the discipline to add to this blog in almost 2 weeks.

Shame on you.

 
At 9:28 PM, Blogger Joe said...

Hmm. That might be because I already am a successful writer, and because my paid assignments have to come before blogging.

 
At 7:10 PM, Blogger Richard Arooga said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 6:21 AM, Blogger Richard Arooga said...

Joe,

Have you ever thought of self publishing on a print on demand basis, and then publicising the book yourself.

I would think that this option will become more and more popular in the long run, and eventually it will produce a big seller.

Regards

Richard Arooga

 
At 2:45 PM, Blogger Joe said...

Richard,

I've considered it, but am still holding out for a contract from a publisher. We shall see. Certainly I may consider this in the future.

How about you?

Joe

 
At 3:01 PM, Blogger Richard Arooga said...

There is a very interesting site that you should find if you search under Foner books.

This publisher explains how the Print On Demand system works, and he has published several of his own books.

Regards

Rich

 
At 11:09 PM, Blogger Abby said...

I don't like hearing that you've tried for three years, and not a single agent was willing to read your books. Either there's something wrong with your query letters and/or connections, or there's something wrong with literary agents these days.

I keep getting rejections, too. It does get discouraging. I worry that the few agents who handle genre fiction are all sick and tired of reading. Maybe they can't recognize a good book anymore, because they've stopped reading for pleasure. It's purely a job for them. That's my worry, and I've seen some evidence to support it. I've read a few "gems" of unpublished novels. There's a lot of talent out there going unnoticed.

But I have hope. After all, some good writers get published, and a handful of them are new. And the publishing industry is teetering on the brink of a change. When the opinions of consumers (fans of fiction books) trump the old avenues of book distribution, I think we'll see more of the good stuff getting out there. Hooray for the internet and word of mouth!

In the meantime ... you're not alone in feeling frustrated. Your work is probably worthy of an agent's time. At very least, your first few chapters should be.

 

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