Friday, January 25, 2013

You liked my submission?

You said you liked my manuscript, so why did you decline to represent it?

Good question.

I read a lot of projects that I enjoy the read but just don't have any place I can go with it. Has nothing to do with how good a story is or the quality of the writing, it has to do with being fair with the author.

All agents have different sets of contacts. Sure, we overlap a great deal, work with the same houses, but there are editors that are good friends of mine but they seldom acquire anything from me. Why? Because our tastes are very dissimilar and they tend to not like projects that I am drawn to. Other editors have much more similar tastes and as a result are much more favorable to the things that I've chosen to represent.

I work for my clients, but in initial contacts it is much more like I am working for the editors. I'm trying to establish those relationships, trying to understand what they are looking for, and work at helping them find it. But once I establish interest in a project then I am strictly representing my client. This task is much easier if we tend to like the same type of project.

I come from the writing side of the industry rather than the publishing side. I'm very sensitive to tying a project up and then finding I have no place to go with it. If that happens I have it tied up with little chance of success so for all practical purposes it is off the market. I wouldn't want anybody doing that to me and I don't want to do it to anybody else.

For that reason part of my process in evaluating a submission is to not only decide if I like the book and like the writing, but do I see a clear path for it? Not that I guarantee to sell one, just do I see some people in my contact list that I'm sure are a possibility for it. If I don't then another agent with a different set of contacts might be a much better match for it.

It's all about being positioned to effectively represent it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Getting back to normal

I've always thought this picture made me look tired, which right now is appropriate. But things are getting back to normal after the computer melt down. I spent most of the day yesterday trying to resolve some driver issues and trying to do business around it. If I’d known I was going to have to completely start over from scratch I would have just gotten a new computer. I spent nearly half the money it would have cost me anyway. However, if I had just gotten a new computer it would have probably come with Windows 8 on it and I don’t like having a new operating system until they get the bugs out of it.

I still have a few hardware issues to work out and most of my files are intact although as I said I did lose some email again so if you have sent me something recently it might be a good idea to send it again.Yes, I have lost email a couple of times here of late and I have been wrestling with what I thought were email issues but it turned out to be a much deeper problem, one which ultimately took down the whole computer. Hopefully it is now resolved.

These computers are such a blessing when they work right, I don't really think I could do my job without it, in fact I know I couldn't. But they are a curse when they don't work right. I accept consequences such as this as the price I have to pay to be online as much as I have to be. I try to mitigate it with all sort of virus protection and programs that clean the computer and all sort of utilities but sometimes in spite of everything the silly thing just goes down.

But looking back I can see up until this recent spree (starting with losing emails) that I really have operated for years with no major difficulty so I guess the odds just caught up with me. Isn't that special? Now perhaps I will go for years once more before it is my turn again.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Off the grid

Yes, I'm pretty much off the grid and have been that way for a couple of days. It's amazing how much we come to depend on these computers and how much it impacts our lives when we don't have them. My work computer had something of a meltdown and while I can do a few things on this travel computer, much of what I need to do is on it. They are working on it and I expect to get it back later today. Hopefully with problems resolved.

It has been warning me but I was too busy to listen. I've had some email snafus where I lost some messages, but I was trying to resolve email pproblems and didn't realize there was an underlying computer problem causing it. So it has kinda had me off the grid for a couple of days and even if I get it back tomorrow won't be much different as I will be at the hospital with Saundra for some minor surgery. Amazing how quickly life makes adjustments to what we consider 'normal'.

I'm not sure what sort of things will be involved in getting back up to speed when I get the computer back. It was an operating system problem and they just upgraded it while they were at it so I'm relatively sure adjustments will need to be made and pretty sure some email loss will be involved as well. These things are such a blessing when they work right and such a curse when they don't.

Hopefully things will return to normal soon, and I solicit your prayers for Saundra tomorrow. I've been told there is no such thing as 'minor' surgery when someone is taking a scapel to us ourselves or to someone we love. I'd say that is true. I am anxiously awaiting the results of the surgery . . . on Saundra . . . and to a lesser extent on my computer.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

So what do I like to represent?

I don't understand why people will submit to an editor or agent without looking at submission guidelines to see what they are representing and how they want to receive it. Would they go to a doctor without first checking to see if they are a general practitioner or a specialist of some kind, to see if they treat whatever they need treated? Would they go to a store looking for something without seeing if it was something the store sells?

But it is clear from the submissions that I receive that many, maybe even most, have not bothered to look at what the agency, or me personally are trying to represent at the present time. They send me things that our guidelines clearly say we do not handle at the present time, wasting not only my time but their time.

I'm from West Texas, the Texas Panhandle to be precise, and I wear a big hat. I don't know how many people jump to the conclusion that I only handle westerns. Every conference I have people who say they did not submit to me because that's not what they write. I would represent a good western, but at present only have a couple of clients that write them.

There are those who won't send me a romance because they figure I'm an old cowboy and wouldn't like them. I'm also Irish which means I tear up in a good chick-flick or like a romance that brings a smile to my face. Admittedly if it gets a little too flowery for me I tend to pass it to one of the ladies, but other than that . . .
I work with a lot of middle reader and young adult. Seems a lot of people don't expect that out of me either, totally ignoring the fact that I have 5 kids, ten grand-kids and two great-grandsons. And you don't expect me to be drawn to things for young people? True, I don't do things aimed at those younger than middle reader because I'm not a good judge of them. They all look cute to me.

I like historical or historical romance if it catches my interest. I like a good mystery, but they don't seem to like me, I'm having trouble finding a home for the few that I have. I handle some nonfiction but not as much these days. There is so much available online for free that it can be hard to place, and when it does find a home it is more about the platform and name recognition of the author than anything else. I am particularly not having any luck in the devotional market, way too many people there chasing too few publishing opportunities. Again it may be more about platform and name identification than anything else.

I like inspirationals and women's fiction, books aimed at a male audience if it is something that can also appeal to female readers. Mostly it needs to be a book that is well written, one that pulls me in from the very first page and keeps me in the story all the way trough. I like books that make me feel what the author is feeling: happy, sad, mad, scared . . . some genuine emotion.

People are making a mistake if they take a look at me and decide because of my age or the way I dress or the way I talk or some other characteristic that I will like or will not like something. There are plenty of places starting with those submission guidelines or the many places where you can find out more about the books that I'm placing that will tell you for sure whether we might possibly be a match or not. It should be that way for all agents or editors. Before we submit to one we should have a good idea whether they are a possibility or not. Blind or mass submissions seldom work. For one thing, many agents or editors feel if the submission they are receiving is not personal to them that it doesn't deserve a personal response.

So, does that help to figure out what I might or might not like?