Friday, July 11, 2008

What does a literary agent do?

I'm in the final leg of my novel's journey. Call it, "the pushing stage" for those of you who've had babies. Shortly, my agent will put it out on submission. If you'd have asked me three years ago, "what does a literary agent do?" I'd have answered, "He represents authors to sell their books to publishers." That would have been correct, but far too simplified.

My agent has ELEVATED my writing. The book I queried him with is not the book he is going to cast upon the publishing waters. It's so much better. Tighter. Funnier. Softer. Grabs you faster. Fits more snugly into a genre. And all of this, I hope and pray and beg and beseech the publishing gods, will make it sellable.

Eric has toiled with me on this manuscript. I've been wholly embarrassed at how much work he has put into it on my behalf. I'm new at this. I've thought, "Oh my God, am I SO horrible a writer that I need this much help?" And then I talk to my writer friends who assure me, "We all suck." LOL!

A good agent is a partner in your career and knows both publishing AND writing. If you think an agent is supposed to be your biggest cheerleader, I say, think again. Some of Eric's comment balloons have horrified me in their direct criticism. I can see the smoke coming out of his ears as he types, "WHAT were you thinking here? FIX IT!" If I were a crybaby, I'd have lost it once or twice during the process. Except-- he is always dead on right in his comments. And every change he has suggested has pushed me to become a better writer, so I can give YOU (my readers one day, I hope!) a fabulous book you won't want to put down.

I have a mother who can tell me I'm all that and a bag of chips. I have a husband who has vowed before God to tell me I am wonderful and beautiful and perfect just the way I am. My agent's job is to help me get my MS into shape so that he can do his job, which is to sell the book.

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

What do I think?

Take the chips (after all they're free from Mom) eat 'em to your heart's content cuz Mark thinks you're perfect and *buck* the carrots and celery sticks.

That's what I think.

Seriously, I think you are one of the funniest people I know. You make me laugh all the time (Erma Bombeck style) and I can't wait to read your novel.

Do I get a gold star?

Kim Stagliano said...

With a cherry on top.... Now can you round up 49,999 friends who will also buy the book. That will go a long way toward selling it to a pub house! ;)

Josh Day said...

Kim, that's great you have such a good literary agent. Hang onto him!

I had the opposite experience.

Long story short, the guy treated me like the poor kid at the country club. Refused to submit my galley to the publishing houses (like TOR, for example) where my fantasy triology would have had the most success. When I pressed him, he said he didn't like "shotgunning" manuscripts to multiple houses, even though that's what I requested and know works well with other writers.

He quit the agency where he worked and started a new one. I stupidly followed him... it was funny I was suddenly getting all kinds of attention, like I'd been getting when I first signed with him, so I figured something big was up.

When he contracted me, it was great for about three weeks. Called me several times a week, helped me out with some hurdles, gave me some wicked sweet ideas. I'd send him some stuff every now and then and he'd give me his thoughts, tighten things up.

He line-edited my first chapter and did an A-1 job. It was really a piece of work, his skill with line editing. I would have paid him for his editorial work alone...

Then something happened and I fell off his radar until I had to force contact with him after 4 months of nothing, only to get an Office Space like dismissal in email.

Good news I'm self publishing and can do things MY way, do the maps the way I want, hire an illustrator who will actually read the books, etc. Also plan to market via world of warcraft and similar RPG nerd venues.

Ack, sorry for the rambling!

Best of luck in the submission process! Can't wait to read it when it comes out! :)

Anonymous said...

"Now can you round up 49,999 friends who will also buy the book."

Don't you worry, cuz Miiizzzzz Davis is on it!

And hey, with Josh's backing that leaves only 49,998 to go. Whooo hooo. Am I good or what?

BTW...chocolate, xtra whip cream and *no* cherry *no* sprinkles but I will take the mini chocolate morsels instead.

With Gidget as my *new and improved* role model, I've decided I can *splurge* and still be beach babe ready!

Michelle O'Neil said...

I think your book is going to kick ass. That's what I think.

Kalynne Pudner said...

I'm swooning with jealousy over Eric. And with anticipation for your pub date: a whole novel of writing like this blog? Wow.

hopefaithbelieve said...

So, a literary agent has some "editing" to do. Geez, I need someone to proofread my blog entries! Count me in as one of the 49,999 friends who will be buying the book.

Jenny said...

How exciting. Can't wait to read your book!

Amanda said...

Count me as your first international sale!

BTW, it is mark's duty to tell you every day how absolutely fab you are, and in my experience husbands are more reliable for that than mums.

Kim Stagliano said...

Thanks, my UK friend! And to all of you. Yeah, I need an editor. And the thing is, once the book sells to a publisher (fingers and fallopes crossed) he/she will give even more editing tasks. Holly Kennedy, Patricia Wood, John Robison (all highly respected, successful published authors) have told me the straight skinny. Don your kevlar vest, Kim. It ain't never over! LOL!