I‘m continuing to respond to various comments on my blog over the last few days.
At some point, I’d love to hear the agent vs. no agent debate here. I get mixed messages from many writers. (Though I’m thinking I’m an agent kind of writer–if I’m any kind of writer at all.)
Randy sez: Don’t get an agent if:
* You have all the contacts with editors you need
* You can negotiate a publishing contract skillfully
* You don’t need help with proposals
* You don’t need career advice
Otherwise, get an agent. Make sense?
What if you finish your manuscript and send it to several editors and get interest from two or three. What do you do about that, also if you meet with an editor or agent and you have already sent out letters to other editors should you tell the editor or agent that you have done so?
Randy sez: If more than one editor asks to see the work, let them see it! Be sure to let them know that you have multiple interests, but don’t make a big deal about it.
If you meet with an editor or agent and they express interest in your work, then they will almost certainly ask who else has seen it and what was their response. You should tell the truth here. Telling the truth is an Xtremely good idea in the publishing world, for a number of reasons. You are always allowed to put your best foot forward, but you must not lie, period. Lies will catch up with you, and publishing is a small world.
What if you do a Ted Dekker thing and walk in with a dozen novels under your armpit? How do you handle that without looking like a geek?
Randy sez: If you do, you need to have a Ted Dekker-sized armpit. Ted is a special guy with tons of ideas and he works extremely hard. If you are also special with tons of ideas and you have the work ethic to carry it off, then do so. Otherwise, you might want to just pitch one project like the rest of us mortals.
If I talk to an agent who in the end isn’t a good fit, is it appropriate to ask if he or she knows another agent who would be?
If so, would it then be appropriate to mention the recommendation in a query letter (or face-to-face meeting) to the new agent?
Randy sez: It depends on why you’re “not a good fit.” If you get the idea that the agent thinks you’re a good writer, but your action-adventure novel just isn’t a sweet romance like all her other projects, then go ahead and ask for a referral. If you get one, it is always a good idea to say, “Can I tell Agent X that you referred me?” The answer will give you some idea of how enthusiastic the agent is.
On the other hand, if you have the strong impression that the agent doesn’t like your writing, then asking for a referral is likely to get you an incredulous “No!” or a referral to the Agent From Hell. So tread carefully here.
You might imagine that no agent or editor would ever recommend a writer to their competition. The agents and editors I know sometimes do this. 10 years ago at a writing conference, my buddy John Olson pitched a Christian vampire novel around. One of the editors, Lisa Bergern, didn’t think she could use it, but she showed it to her friend, Karen Ball. Karen loved it, but she also knew she couldn’t buy it for her publishing house. Two publishing houses later, Karen bought it and that novel will come out this October under the title SHADE. So it happens.
Randy, on interviews with Agents and Publishers, do you think it would be acceptable to ask if they would agree to my recording the interview, and making it clear that it’s only to be able to go over their advice and requests (if they have any requests) at a later date?
Randy sez: Yes, ask. If they say no, do NOT punch them in the nose, stalk off in disgust, or otherwise show your displeasure. Smile pleasantly, instead, and say, “Did anyone ever tell you that you look much nicer than the south end of a north-bound rhino?” Trust me, this always builds bridges. You can never have too many bridges.
Miss Skye asked:
I’m curious– did you finish reading the Harry Potter series yet? The reason I ask is I wanted to direct your attention to editor Cheryl Klein’s speech “A Few Things Writers Can Learn from Harry Potter”.
Randy sez: My girls and I are almost done reading HP aloud. We are about to begin the final battle at Hogwarts in Book 7. This is a LONG reading project, but we’re really enjoying it. Of course, all of us have read it multiple times, so there are no surprises, but every time I read the series, I notice new things. In my opinion, JK Rowling is one of the best authors on the planet. I read through the speech by Cheryl Klein and it was excellent.