Monday, February 02, 2009

Agents In the Trades

The February 2009 issue of The Writer magazine has a couple of very useful features this month: 53 detailed listings for agents, including contact info and what they're looking for in submissions (if you're shopping for an agent, this alone makes it worth the cover price.) There's a mini-interview with my agent, Robin Rue of Writer's House, included in the section. They've also interviewed five agents and asked them for advice on what they think writers can do to succeed in a tough market (like it was ever easy.) Kelly James-Enger has an excellent article on blogging for bucks that explains a couple of ways to break into the online market, and Deborah Niemann-Boehle has a short article with valuable tips on how to become a stringer for your local newspaper.

I've always liked The Writer even when they fly off into WriterLaLaLand, but in this issue they've really shown a committment to addressing more of the issues working writers have. I hope this trend continues.

In the Jan/Feb 09 issue of Poets & Writers, Jodie Ferrari-Adler talked with four young literary agents: Julie Barer, Jeff Kleinman, Renee Zuckerbrot and Daniel Lazar (Daniel is also with Writers House; he's the handsome guy in the center on the front cover pic) about the writing they want to see, where they're finding it, what they love, hate, and ten things writers should never do. But even if you don't want to hear what agents say after they've been wined and dined, about half of P&W is devoted to grants & awards and market listings, which they feature every month.

P&W is definitely geared more toward the literary writer, and I doubt that will change, but they're classy and informative, something you usually don't find at that end of the market. I think they also offer more market, grant and awards listings than any of the other trades.

I'm going to send my copies of both issues to one of you guys; in comments to this post name something related to writing or publishing that you'd like to read about or find more information on (or if you can't think of something, just toss your name in the hat) by midnight EST on Tuesday, February 3, 2009. I'll draw one name from everyone who participates and send the winner both magazines (read once by me) as well as a surprise. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something here at PBW in the past.

42 comments:

  1. I'd like to no more about what are upcoming trends, and how to make your writing more eye catching on a query letter.

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  2. Would love to find more info on agents' specialization in genre. Who are the well-established ones in each, who are the new, up-and-comers. That may be in the articles you just mentioned, but that's one thing I'm keen to see. Thanks!

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  3. I just discovered your seven "How I Write Novels" links on your sidebar. Excellent, awesome stuff. You have no idea how much just those seven posts helped me out. I'd love to read more of that sort of thing by published writers - particularly the more prolific ones like you.

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  4. My wife was saying just today that she wanted to know more about writing grants. I think that has to be beyond a long-shot for genre writers like us, but what the heck, eh? For myself, though I'm eons away from being able to consider quitting a day job, I'd like to know more about the little nonficiton ways full-time writers make an extra buck here or there.

    Cheers!

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  5. Good morning, I've been writing for 17 years and in the last few years I've just become comfortable with the idea of actually showing people what I've written. I've been very curious about the whole agent-editor-publisher biz and just recently someone recommended The Writer magazine to me as a go-to place for industry information. I'd love the copies.

    Thanks!

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  6. I'd like more information on what happens to a book after an agent takes it on but before it sells. There seems to be a lot of information out there on how to get an agent (yup, got one of those) and lot on what happens after the sale, but how an agent actually sells a novel is a mystery to me.

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  7. I'm always looking for ideas on how to handle that interesting phase between first published novel and, say, fourth novel (second number drawn at random from a virtual hat), when you're not a new writer, but not an established writer either.

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  8. I'd like to know more about what happens after the novel is sold to the first edition hits the salesrack. Does it get bounced back to you with red pencil markings? Do you get a sheet of cover choices? I've heard so many complaints that the cover is never really a choice.

    Thanks,

    Carrie

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  9. Hi,
    I already have bothh those issues so keep my name out of the ring. However, I'm interested in knowing your definition of "literary fiction."

    I understand how it's different from genre --each genre has its own set of rules. But what makes lit. f different from fiction? Would Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet be Literary fiction or romance or romantic suspense?

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  10. I haven't read Writer Magazine so I don't know that they do this, but...

    When I'm looking up agents to sub to for my sub-genre, paranormal romance pre 1900, I don't need things that specific, but it would sure be nice to see a bit more than 'romance' as something they're interested in. There's a lot of different subs for romance, contemporary, historical, paranormal, and on and on and it would just be nice to not get a "I don't do paranormal" even though they state and I subbed clear romance.

    *sigh*

    Does that even make sense?

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  11. RK wrote: I understand how it's different from genre --each genre has its own set of rules. But what makes lit. f different from fiction? Would Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet be Literary fiction or romance or romantic suspense?

    Shakespeare's plays would ben classic literature, according to everything I was taught in school. And since everyone interesting dies in the end, I have to agree with that.

    I don't like literary fiction at all, so I don't think I'm the right person to define it. So far from what I've read the person who addressed this issue best is Nathan Bransford (who is also an agent, btw.) He has a thorough, excellent and unbiased post on the difference between commercial (genre) and literary fiction here.

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  12. Nightsmusic wrote: Does that even make sense?

    Works for me. You'd need to find an agent who won't automatically label you as a paranormal romance writer, I think, but look more toward the subgenre spectrum. Based on your description, you could go mainstream, fantasy, or urban fantasy with that kind of story.

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  13. Forgive my typos today, everyone -- I'm working with a minor injury, and the bandage nkeeps hitting the keuys and trying to ntype for me.

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  14. Blogger doesn't want me to comment today!

    I'd like to see more input on publishing from British agents and editors. Blogging just doesn't seem to have caught on in the industry over here.

    (btw, don't enter me in the draw--I'm thinking those magazines will be more useful to one of your US readers than to me :D)

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  15. Anonymous9:27 AM

    Ditto what caroline said:

    "Would love to find more info on agents' specialization in genre. Who are the well-established ones in each, who are the new, up-and-comers."

    Anon E. Mouse

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  16. I'd like to know more about how hard people worked BEFORE they ever got published.

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  17. Sorry you're injured! Your typing looks like mine when the dog's helping me... ;)

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  18. I'd like to know more about how they determine sales for the bestseller lists, and sales in total (like over the history of a work). e.g. Does their week go from Tuesday to Monday? Do they take the total print run, then subtract all the books that get destroyed eventually as strips, do they count ones sitting in warehouses that *might* sell, etc.

    Thanks!

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  19. tossing my name into the hat...

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  20. I've surfeited on publishing talk, but I love reading about how other writers do what they do. Particularly, I'd like to read more about how series writers plan--do they plot the whole story arc at once? Let it grow organically book by book? Something in the middle?

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  21. I'd like to know about how the econimic situation is affecting querying--if agents are becoming stricter, etc.

    It's not keeping me from trying, but it's always good to know the feel of the market. : )

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  22. I'd like to see examples of how to write emotionally deep first person POV.

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  23. I'd like to know more about how Print/Publish on Demand is going to affect new writers, and whether this is the way to go.

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  24. Hm. I thought for sure I had commented earlier but it's not showing up, so allow me to try again.

    I'd like more info on writing synopses and/or proposals. Since unpubbeds aren't supposed to submit "on spec" I don't think we get enough practice or advice on doing this, and what advice is out there is so vast as to be meaningless.

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  25. Wow this is spacey Lynn, Daniel Lazar is over at teenlitauthors forum answering questions regarding querying him etc. Small world really.

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  26. I'd like to know more about how to make my "regular people" novels hook an agent. I've had nibbles but no "catches" so far.

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  27. I'd like more information on writing and use outlines and synopses too. And also information on how to "deepen" writing...using all of those connections that make the book feel real instead of like an overlong short story.

    If that makes any sense. :)

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  28. How to write funny. Hope your hand gets better after the stitching.

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  29. I'd like more on marketing & promotion. Honestly, I prefer craft info and the la-la land stuff :) but the cold hard reality is where I'm at now.

    I'd love to send the mags to my CP who is in the midst of the agent nibble nightmare.

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  30. Tamith1:28 AM

    I'd be interested in learning how to properly pace a novel, balancing action and dialogue.

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  31. Interesting timing on this. I'd be happy to see both of them.

    As far as what I want to hear more of is a frank assessment of the market. I mean, the short story market is showing the recession in great big gouges and it leaves new writers thinking the access is even harder than before, aided by editorial departments closing to subs and reorganizing. What should we do? Sit on our novels until better times? Or poke on ahead?

    Oh, and I'll admit the predominance of the literary in your blog comments and the book you sent me makes me wonder what's coming next in the Viehl world :).

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  32. I'm curious about the difference between proposals and synopses?

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  33. Sorry about your hand. Hope it doesn't take long to heal.

    I'd like to know how the economy is effecting sales and new contracts for new authors.

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  34. StaceyB7:08 AM

    I'd love to learn more about the agents you've mentioned. All the articles sound great also.

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  35. Anonymous10:19 AM

    I tell my kids to load the silverware with the forks and knives pointed down! I gotta remember to tell them about your accident. Hope you heal soon

    I'd like find more information on how online MFA programs compare to traditional MFA programs offered at the Universities. Do you think someone who finishes programs through online writing sites would have a chance against the writers coming out of big time universities?

    Laurel

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  36. I am interested in learning how to submit stories for e-publishing. Is it the same process as print publishing?

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  37. Anonymous11:25 AM

    Given the increased popularity of gaming, I'm wondering whether rights on selling/marketing a novel or series is something that is mentioned in contracts routinely (like possible movie deals) and how it is handled. Certainly some genres have better potential than others to have a spin off into the gaming world, but it would be nice as the author to have some control over that.

    I'm not sure if my phrasing makes sense; i'm still learning about contracts in general.

    Hope your hand feels better,
    Shannon

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  38. It seems from the readers pov, ebooks are becoming more of a trend now instead of a novelty. Are you seeing this on the professional level as well? And have you run into problems with giving away ebooks?

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  39. Both magazines sound really interesting. The subjects they address are some that interest me when it comes to writing. I was unaware that there were grants from writing aside from academic writing grants.

    I'd definitely like to know more about getting an agent, and the interviews of the agents will be something I'd really like to read.

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  40. I'd like to know more about how the publishing industry is changing.

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  41. The information on agents would be awesome.

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  42. Anonymous10:13 PM

    This is sort of related to writing, though maybe not in the sense that you mean - I'd like to learn more about how to become a good editor, professionally.

    ~ Mitch

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