Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Conflicting Opinions

So I've been querying for awhile now, doing all the research, etc. My query letter's solid, and I have a high concept upmarket thriller. I don't have writing credits to speak of. However, a few months ago, I corresponded with a prominent and best-selling novelist (PEN Faulkner finalist, lots of awards, movie rights, etc.). He read and loved my book. Besides the high concept, I figured adding that to my query would entice agents to ask for a partial. But everyone has rejected me or not responded. I've always been over confident in my work, but when an established voice in contemporary fiction says "yes," why are agents saying "no" without taking a look? I mean, obviously a nod from anyone doesn't guarantee representation or publication, but no one wants to take a look? It's not that my ego's shattered, and I understand differing tastes, but I guess I just don't see the business sense there.

A bestselling novelist, no matter how impressive, is not an agent or editor. Writing books is one thing, selling and marketing them is another. There seems to be this assumption among unpublished authors that the minute you become published you have this insight into the market that you didn’t have the week before. That’s untrue. A quote from a bestselling author is great and definitely something that publishers would eventually want to use on the cover of your book, if, of course, the audience for that author’s work is also the audience for your work. In other words, a Nora Roberts quote, while fabulous, probably won’t sell many books to an audience that sees itself as literary fiction readers only. However, agents are still going to look at your query letter and, despite the quote, make a decision like they would with any other query. Does your book sound like something they would want to read? Or better yet, does you book sound like something they can sell?

I’m not sure why you think agents are making poor business decisions because they’re not wowed by a quote from another author. How is that author going to help you sell the book exactly? Has she agreed to coauthor with you? A quote is just that, a quote. It means one person liked the book. It doesn’t mean agents, editors or readers will buy the book.

There’s no secret way into this business and there are few, if any, people who can just magically open the door for you. My guess is that either your query is faulty, it’s missing that element that really grabs an agent’s attention, or your book doesn’t sound different enough and your voice (from your query) isn’t striking a chord with agents.

We’ve had numerous conversations on this blog about the effectiveness of quotes, with many saying they look at author quotes on books and only listen with half an ear, so to speak. Why do you think agents would be any different? In many ways we’re even more jaded than authors, and certainly more jaded than readers.



Anonymous said...

Thanks for addressing my question. Hopefully, I don't sound too arrogant.
The only thing that I would object to is the use of the word "magically." If this recommendation from an established author (not someone who just broke in) had landed me an agent, I think it would still be a matter of the book making an impression. The door that I hoped the reccomendation would help open is not a large door in the end. It's a big first step, but I of course never imagined that this recomendation would march me to the best-seller list. But at this very early stage, with no real risk in asking to read the manuscript, no one's even reading the thing. While I understand that I sounded terribly naive in this question, and fully expect a barage of 'what were you thinkings' from commenters, I have to admit that, having stepped away from the query process for two months now, I still look back on it and shake my head. The word in your response I definitely don't object to is "jaded." Hopefully, the coming changes in the publishing industry will ease that sense.

Aimlesswriter said...

If I was getting too many rejections I'd take my query letter back to the drawing board. Let your critique group have a go at it. Or even your published author friend. Even if you think your letter is great there is some reason agents aren't biting. Are you targeting the right agents? Some agents only like certain types of books. And don't send anything out until after the holidays. I'd even wait till the end of January. (Is this correct, Jessica?)
Good luck!

Anonymous said...

You say your query letter is solid, yet you have no requests. My first thought would be to revisit the query letter. Perhaps it is not as good as you think? You say you tend to be over-confident. This might be one of those instances. Consider Query Shark.

Anonymous said...

I hear you, Anon 8:53, but disagree with "no real risk in reading the ms."

Agents always run a risk of asking for a partial or full, simply because there are only 24 hours in a day. They've got clients do deal with and conferences and negotiations and, you know, 200 other queries a DAY in their in-box. A published author liking your book doesn't mean anything to them because they don't have TIME to care.

It's the story, or nothing. I urge you to work on your query. Like Anon 9:11 siad, visit QUERY SHARK and read the examples, it's super useful.

Rick Daley said...

Would the experienced author refer you to his agent?

For an agent, if one of your successful clients referred another writer to you, does the referral give the query added credibility?

I suppose at the end of the day it's still the description of your story that will entice the agent.

Kimber Li said...

No matter how great a book is, if the market's not there it's not there and there isn't a darn thing we can do about that.

Except write another book.

Kyler said...

Something's being assumed here that may be confusing. The author never said that a quote was offered, just a recommendation. If she said in her query simply that the famous author read and loved her book, that doesn't sound so great; but if an actual quote were given, that might have made the difference. I had a good quote for my first novel from a famous author from a different genre, and that quote got a lot of requests. I know because I hadn't yet learned to write a good pitch. It must have been the quote that did it. So perhaps it's the way this writer described the recommendation that didn't get her requests.

Stephanie said...

My thought is maybe the query isn't as stellar as you think. Why do you think it's perfect???? Has it been critiqued??? Post it on They'll tear it apart and you'll never be more thankful.

If there's one thing I'm learning about this business is that it's just that...a business and if your product can't make money...then no one will look at it no matter how sparkly your query is.

Mira said...

I agree with Kimber Ann, there's alot here that is out of the author's control.

So, here are my opinions, which I will preface by saying I have no idea what I'm talking about. I've just picked things up reading agent's blogs - so please take this with a grain of salt. But here's what I think: if you're getting alot of form rejections without requests for partials, (and I mean alot 25+ at least) then I think it's time to take a second look.

You do mention, though, that you haven't heard back from some agents. That's not necessarily a 'no'. Some agents have very long response times.

In terms of a second look, I'd look at the writing and the concept. Not the query. People spend too much time thinking it's the query, imho. If the query is decent, that's good enough, and the rest goes to the writing.

Maybe the writing needs work. That's the hardest part - it's so hard to evaluate our own writing.

Maybe the concept can't sell right now. The market is really tight. Maybe it's over-saturated, or it's just not the right timing.

About the quote, I think what Jessica said was really interesting and on point.

I think it's great you're taking a break. After awhile, you can pull your MS again and take a second look. Maybe it will be clearer at that point.

Mira said...

Oh, I will add something else - good luck!

This is a really hard, frustrating process. Please be gentle with yourself around it. I also think it's good to look at it as a long-term sort of thing. You put one foot in front of the other, and keep learning.

We all have our own path - it's often longer and more winding than we want, but that doesn't mean it won't get us to a pretty good place in the long run.

Debra Lynn Shelton said...

I completely agree w/Rick - if the author truly loved the book, why wouldn't he refer you to his agent? I had that happen during the query process and it definitely opened a few doors.

I'd agree w/the masses re: the query letter. If it's not doing what query letters are meant to do (have agents ask for sample pages), you need to seriously rethink it. I had nearly 30 requests for partials and fulls on my last query (out of about 90 queries), and it did lead to representation. That's how you know your query's working.

And, Mira - love your avatar!

BTW: Jessica - How are you feeling these day??? ;-)

Anonymous said...

If the successful author liked your book, why didn't she/he hook you up with their agent to take a look? That's the most effective use, I'm thinking, of an established author's recommendation.

Sarah J. MacManus said...

I don't think this author is arrogant for thinking that a blurb from best-selling author in the same genre would get him at least a couple of requests for a partial. Must be the query - or the market.
I'm going to agree here that you should ask for a rec to the author's agent, or query the agent yourself.

Mira said...

Debra - thanks. :) Holiday time!

I like yours too - very interesting with the blue back light. :)

Anonymous said...

You know, not to be a total downer, but if you, as an unpublished writer, are asking a famous/known/successful author "What do you think about my book?"

Are they really going to say, "Gee, I think it sort of sucks."

You say you corresponded with him and that he read your book -- but who was the instigator of this correspondance? You or him? It makes a huge difference, I think. If a pubbed author is asking to read your work and giving you pointers for it, then you may have just found the most kind-hearted writer on the planet earth.

If, though, you tracked this person down and after a series of emails asked him to read your work, well... maybe he did or maybe he didn't, and maybe he'd be horrified to find you are using his name in a query letter to begin with.

I only say this because I had a book pubbed several years ago, it wasn't even very successful and is now out of print, but people EVERYWHERE wanted to thrust their unpubbed work at me to "see what I thought" (that usually meant they wanted a free critique, an agent referral, or for me to magically get them published). I told them "no." But other writers might feel suckered into "having a look" and then giving the writer very general praise, that is virutally meaningless. They do this to end the conversation.

Robena Grant said...

Hi Anon, 8:53. I don't think you sound arrogant, just confused and rightly so. But, (there's always a but ; ) ) I think when an author reads your work they're reading it purely from a writer to writer perspective. They can see the talent, admire different aspects like tone and style, and word usage, and overall story structure, and so on and so on. But here's the catch. They don't know what the market will currently get behind for a new writer. I see it often when I judge contests. I might think the writing is amazing and wonder why the person isn't already published then realize the market is saturated with similar stories. I recently judged six Regency romances and one was amazing, but all were so similar I had to take a break and read a contemporary in the middle so I could keep them all straight.

What I would do in your situation is remove that section on the author recommendation. I think if I were an agent and I got this on a dreadfully bad awful day, I'd probably roll my eyes.

Use that valuable line or two in the query to give more spark, or even fire, to your own story and put it back into circulation.

Anonymous said...

As an author who gets many, many requests to read manuscripts, I almost never turn down another author's request for a blurb. I know many authors who do this as well, even if the manuscript was just average (I'd never blurb a terrible manuscript, but I've blurbed plenty of average ones).

If your manuscript is one of those average ones, your query letter might be as well. A great blurb from an author doesn't necessarily mean a great book - I promise you. But let's say the author really did fall in love, then I'd ask that established author (or another one) to take a look at the query. Many times they'll be truthful about the query letter rather than the manuscript and help you fine tune it. It's a lot less personal (and far less time consuming) tearing apart a letter than it is 300 pages.

Nathan Meidell said...

I think we aspiring authors often go through stages similar to the stages of grief, even though we rarely touch on all of them. I certainly have.

One of those stages for me is the moment I realize I just have to sit and look at what I thought was perfect, and figure out why it still isn't working for others.

So back to the basics, namely revision of the novel and querying of agents until someone wants to represent me and my work.

"There’s no secret way into this business..."

Good reviews and feedback are great moral boosters, but I'm always more interested in the things people suggest by way of improvement.

Paige said...

If your query really does rock, agents would be biting. Work on the query letter. There are lots of places you can go for help:

Query Hell at Absolute Write
Query Shark
Evil Editor

There are plenty of other places, as well, but I'd start with those (particularly Absolute Write, where you can get help immediately).

Barbra Annino said...

Meg Gardiner got a contract in the US (she was already published in the UK among other continents) because Stephen King picked up her book in an airport and blogged about it. Publishing is a crap shoot.

Barbra Annino said...

But do submit your query for review.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the feedback. Fully expected to get jumped!
Anyway, I corresponded with the author about one of his books, then when I finished mine, asked him to read it. He gave me some feedback and a description of his impressions. It's hard to convey why I think the feedback was genuine. I've written a few other books, and I learned to tell when someone was just telling me it was good to avoid the awkwardness of telling me it was bad. When I wrote my current book, it was different. People who read it, like this author, were going out of their to talk about it and were mentioning different aspects that they loved. In addition, people I know to be critically honest, read it and loved it. Had my query critiqued and worked on it for months, though I will probably go back to the drawing board.
The author's agent was not taking new clients. So I knew this recomendation would never directly LAND me an agent, but I never expected NO ONE to even read the book. The contradition I see in a lot of these responses is the idea that a famous author can't necessairly pick a book that will sell. Well, agents and editors pick books all the time that don't sell. Everyone's taste is a little different. But if an industry professional says, "this is good," and it's still considered a risk JUST to read it... as someone who is trying to continually make sense of the entertainment business, that DOES NOT make sense to me.
I will say that in times of old-whatever that means-from what I understand, something like this would've gotten me in the door. Now I can't even find the door to pry it open. Thank you for the feedback.

David Alton Dodd said...

Let's assume that your query letter is great. Let's also assume that your novel is tight and ready. And let's make a third assumption that the famous best-selling author is giving an honest opinion. Lastly, let's assume that you've queried at least 50 agents (yes, 50, at least).

There are still a lot of reasons that you're not getting bites, even if you're using the right bait. Perhaps the market isn't right for your upmarket thriller. Maybe this particular novel isn't something an agent can represent from an unpublished writer.

As I finished my first novel, I realized that this would be my issue, so I haven't even bother to query it. It's a good novel, and I have no doubt that it would sell, but as I finished it I reached the conclusion that it couldn't be my first. For example, it launches into several paragraphs of back-story on the second page - and the back-story is necessary there (the structural conceit relies on it), but I know that most agents or publishing house editors wouldn't look past it for a first-time novelist.

So, I'm writing a second novel that will be easier to pitch/sell for a first novel. I'll have an easier time selling the original novel once I get this one published. Perhaps this is also true in your case, and you may want to consider putting aside the novel and writing another that would be easier to sell as a first novel. In such a case, if published, I'm sure that your agent would take a closer look at the original manuscript and let you know if there is a problem with it.

writergrrrl said...

Yes, something's wrong with your query. You should be getting some requests for partials or fulls.

Maybe your query is overly focused on the author's quote/endorsement. (Something else I'm wondering about: does this best-selling author write in the thriller genre? If not, his endorsement will most likely carry less weight.)

I suspect the tone of your query is off. You mention in your original post that you've "always been over-confident of your work." That leads me to believe you may sound a little arrogant on paper.

Are you including a couple of sample pages with your letter? Maybe the opening isn't strong enough for agents to request more. That's something else to look at too.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:53

First of all, drop the author blurb from the query. Save it for the book jacket. it doesn't belong in a Q.

The problem has to be with the pitch. Are you opening (after the introl para. where you state the genre, word count, fact that it's compelte, that your'e seeking representation, etc.) with a concise 1-liner logline style pitch? With a high concept premise, this should be easy.

Then you have a 1 para. summary. If you're just launching into a multi-para mini-synopsis,l that could be the problem.

if you want to post here your 1-liner (or write 1 if you don't have 1, I'd be happy to assess its marketing effectiveness for you.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

I also queried a high concept thriller, but my Q immediately generated requests for partials. About 3/10 requested partials. 3/10 said no, and the other third never responded. Did about 50 Qs overall. Sold it myself to a small press for an advance.

I agree with others that you should lok at the actual Q letter. the pitch part is everything for an unknown writer. High concepts lend themselves to strong pitches, though, so I'm not sure why you're having problems.

Anonymous said...

I'll get that sucker some looks for ya. here's how you do it--redo your letter like this--exactly like this, and you'll get requests (assuming you have a decent pitch line);

1. opening para: I'm seeking rep. for my THRILLER (not "upmarket thriller" just "thriller"--because the qualifier is a self-limiter--you want to appeal to as wide an audience as possible, not just the upmarket, but ALL of the market), TITLE, complete at x words (and it better be about 90K if it's a debut thriller--is it?).

Have you strayed from 1) already in your original? I bet you have.

2) the 1-liner hi-concept hook.

i.e. "Dinosaurs come to life in a remote island theme park after an eccentric scientist clones them back to life from dna trapped in fossilized amber."

Boom. No quesiton as to what we're in for with this one. Does your 1-liner accomplish that? Did you even use a 1-liner, or a rambling multi-paragraph book report like description?

HAve you deviated from this structure yet?

3) end it up by describing yourself if applicable--if you've published nothing, then you can skip this part. Perhaps if you have a degree or work history relevant to the boo's content (e.g. you're a doctor and you've written a medical thriller), then include that. Otherwise, just close by thanking the agent for her consideration.


Did you do it like that?!

The Q-Fixer

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:37:
one variation I've used:
In an America controlled by the company manufacturing eternal life, Jimmy Framarino, an innocent fugitive, seeks clandestine passage back to the seceded state of California only to find himself caught in the largest upheaval since 1776.


Anonymous said...

"In an America controlled by the company manufacturing eternal life, Jimmy Framarino, an innocent fugitive, seeks clandestine passage back to the seceded state of California only to find himself caught in the largest upheaval since 1776."

OK, I think this could be streamlined. It's slightly confusing, with the mention of 1776--is there time-travel? Not quite sure.

Also, in a 1-liner you don't need the character's name.

Lemme take a stab at making it seem more thriller-like:

In a future America controlled by an eternal life corporation, an innocent fugitive must make his way undetected across the continent to the former state of California where he faces a revolutionary upheaval.

How's that sound?

That's just the 1-liner, of course. then, in a 1-paragraph descrotion, you can go into more about the main character and who he is and why he faces what he faces or whatever.

Granted, I only worked on it for a few minutes, but you can see how after whittling it away every day like this for a month (which is what I do for my own, starting with something like what I wrote above), you'd have something crisp, clear and, well...thrilling.

Anonymous said...

here's another suggestion, and this one is more subjective but, to me character names are important. And the name Framarino--it's hard to pronounce, it's awkward--for a main character whose name you need to use all the time. You want the readers taking in the story, not pausing to think, "Fram--FraAHrino? FramaReeeno? Frah-what?!"

Just a thought. But the thrillers usually have MC names that are short and catchy like Dirk Pitt, James Bond, etc., etc. names that are like little bursts of memorable syllables. Again, only my opninion. But I like every edge I can get.

David Alton Dodd said...

"In an America controlled by the company manufacturing eternal life, Jimmy Framarino, an innocent fugitive, seeks clandestine passage back to the seceded state of California only to find himself caught in the largest upheaval since 1776."

Ah. Here's one issue: You're writing in one genre and claiming another. This is speculative fiction, and while it might be a thriller, if you are marketing your MS toward agents that represent thrillers, they are going to ignore the query. Tweak your query toward agents that specialize in speculative fiction and see what happens.

Anonymous said...

I see you saved the best for last:
"In many ways we’re even more jaded than authors, and certainly more jaded than readers."

Ya think?

Anonymous said...

Orig Anon, I hear you! Just a few months ago, I got same-day requests for partials and fulls from half the agents I queried (including J), so my query wasn't the problem. I came close a couple of times to getting an agent, but then the pub industry bottomed out.

I've since revised my novel but now no one will even bother to reply, much less take a look. I know it sounds like a cop-out, but I swear it's the economy...maybe we should wait it out and hope 2010 is better!

Anonymous said...

"In an America controlled by the company manufacturing eternal life, Jimmy Framarino, an innocent fugitive, seeks clandestine passage back to the seceded state of California only to find himself caught in the largest upheaval since 1776."

I think David makes a good point. This doesn't sound like a traditional thriller, which could work in your favor. I agree with the other Anon who suggested you dump the "high concept upmarket" part of your description. I'm not sure if it's really an issue of limited your market. I think telling agents your novel is high concept could be a potential turn-off. Let the pitch speak for itself.

The main problem I see with this elevator pitch is you're trying to cram way too many elements into a single sentence. The result is confusing and unwieldy. What does the corporation have to do with your protagonist fleeing to California? What's his goal beyond hiding out from (who--the corporation? the government? an individual?)? Does he get caught up in the upheaval/revolution? What's his end goal?

Definitely post your query at AbsoluteWrite. Consider joining Backspace. Check out the winning query letters on all the agent blogs. And good luck!

Mira said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mira said...

Oh, Jessica - hope it's okay to give specific query advice on your blog.

If not, sorry ~

Mira said...

Actually, I decide it wasn't so I re-wrote this...

David Dodd said it well - I was thinking the same thing about genre. Your book may have action elements, but at heart, it sounds like it's either futuristic fantasy or science fiction, depending on how into the technology you get.

You might try querying agents that represent those genres.

Also, my recommendation based on your one line - try to re-write it to reflect the tone of the book.

If you have written a fast-paced action fantasy/sci fi novel, you might try to reflect that fast pace in that section of the query.

In other words,use your action verbs! :)

Hope this was helpful - good luck.

Anonymous said...

That first sentence is a mouthful, and could be that agents suspect your overall writing follows that tone. There are so many words there I had to think "what does this mean?" Which is not what you want any reader thinking, ever. I suspect that's at least one reason agents arene't bothering with any requests. They see a book that's not ready yet.

The notes about the wrong genre should be considered too. You might have a thriller, sure. But if these writers think you don't have a thriller query, you probably don't.

Rework your query. And if the book reads like the query, you need to edit again.

Anonymous said...

Agree that from the given example, the story seems more like sci-fi than thriller. And the rewritten version, while tighter and more thriller-like, will do no good if you're trying to turn it into something it's not. Also, the tone and spirit of the query pitch should match that of the novel.

Make sure you know your genre.

Anonymous said...

There is such a thing as a "sci-fi thriller," like Blade Runner, Logan's Run, etc., but for a new novelist trying to make a first sale, I think it makes sense to stick to a broad, widely recognized genre, if it's genre fiction.

Anonymous said...

No offense, but if this is the opening paragraph of your query, I am not sure if many agents would even get to the author's quote. It's really cumbersome, with clunky language and cliches (aren't fugitives always innocent in fiction?) The first problem may be the query is bad.

--Anon 6:37:
one variation I've used:
In an America controlled by the company manufacturing eternal life, Jimmy Framarino, an innocent fugitive, seeks clandestine passage back to the seceded state of California only to find himself caught in the largest upheaval since 1776.--

Anonymous said...

"So I've been querying for awhile now, doing all the research, etc. My query letter's solid, and I have a high concept upmarket thriller."

This is what happens to many new novelists: they proceed based on what they assume to be true, but which, as we have shown in above comments, is in actuality not true.


1) "My query letter's solid"

Disagree completely.

2) "...have a high concept upmarket thriller"

Disagree. Seems more sci-fi-ish than high concept thriller.

The key is to stay open minded and not ever assume "it's not this" or "it's not that." It could be this or that. Don't rule anything out.

Anonymous said...

--Anon 6:37:
one variation I've used:
In an America controlled by the company manufacturing eternal life, Jimmy Framarino, an innocent fugitive, seeks clandestine passage back to the seceded state of California only to find himself caught in the largest upheaval since 1776.--

I know you think this is solid and gripping, but it's really a weak opening. The language is vague and a little flat -- "clandestine passage," "largest upheaval," "company manufacturing eternal life." I think you are trying to convey too much at once instead of hooking the reader with a powerful opening. There really is too much information in this sentence (eternal life, California's sededed, innocent fugitive, big upheaval, 1776)

Anonymous said...

The dirty secret about author blurbs: some authors are loathe to make enemies or appear selfish, and they'll give a charitable quote even though they may not REALLY like the manuscript all that much. I know. I've been there and done that myself, because the aspiring author who asked me for the blurb is in my social circle and it's just too hard to say no.

Aspiring authors should stop obsessing over getting some famous author to blurb them, and spend more time honing their manuscripts and their query letters.

Anonymous said...

I once got a NY Times #1 bestseller to sign off on a blurb for my book -- I wrote the blurb myself and he hadn't even read my book. He was a friend who did it as a favor.

--The dirty secret about author blurbs: some authors are loathe to make enemies or appear selfish, and they'll give a charitable quote even though they may not REALLY like the manuscript all that much. --

Anonymous said...

This was a great thread. It started out with a mystery -- why won't agents respond to a great query that also has a prominent novelist's seal of approval -- and ended up revealing that the writer had misrepresented the genre and had a clumsy one liner.

OP, you've been given terrific advice here and kudos to you for being brave enough to work it out in public.

"In an America controlled by the company manufacturing eternal life, Jimmy Framarino, an innocent fugitive, seeks clandestine passage back to the seceded state of California only to find himself caught in the largest upheaval since 1776."

Be aware that sometimes writers think their idea is high concept just because it is science fiction or set in the future. All this shows is that some company that deals with eternal life controls the US. Your protag goes back to California where a revolution is taking place. Even after a prospective agent deconstructs your awkward one-liner so he can understand it, he or she is just not inspired by it. There's no punch or twist or aha to that one-liner.

Also, I know several authors who have referred new writers to their agents and the agents did not take them on. I know a few who did get signed.

Anonymous said...

I'd just like to point out that

In an America controlled by the company manufacturing eternal life, Jimmy Framarino, an innocent fugitive, seeks clandestine passage back to the seceded state of California only to find himself caught in the largest upheaval since 1776

doesn't sound like a story yet. There is no hint of what Jimmy's problem is. All it says is that he's a fugitive. But there is no connection, no sense, to what's mentioned. There is no connection between Jimmy and the company, no reason why he's a fugitive or why he should go to California or why an upheaval is relevant. No wonder no one's requesting it.

I also agree that it doesn't fit the genre, and so is probably being sent to the wrong agents.

Creative A said...

I agree with everything written in the post, but may I suggest that if the author in question has such a bestselling friend who likes his work, why not ask for a referral rather than rely on the quote?


Anonymous said...

I'm posting this anonymously because I'm putting something out that concerns me but may inadvertently offend. I have no doubt that agents know markets and that's what makes them valuable and successful. An agent who doesn't won't have much success. But what I hear agents say a lot is that they are looking for "what I [they] like." As gatekeepers for publishing houses, their personal preferences carry tremendous weight and may not always match the preferences of the book-buying public. A writer who knows the market for his/her book will help his/her cause, but it would help to hear agents articulate this more than giving the impression that it is all about their subjective opinions.

kanishk said...

Hopefully, the coming changes in the publishing industry will ease that sense.

How to make a website

Anonymous said...

Agents for debut writers will be less important going forward. It's like, whaddya need an agent for if you've never sold anything yet?

When you're being offered a multi-book deal because your first book sold well independently, THEN you NEED an agent. Until something like that happens, why bother? If you can sell books, you can sell books and the agents will come to you. Notice I said SELL books, not necessarily write books, although that tends to help.