Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Agent Famine

Dr. Oz talked on TV about the "sex famine" in the U.S., saying hardly anyone's getting any because cultural rules make it artificially difficult: too young, too old, too tired, too jaded, too fat, too poor, too kooky, and so on. I have no opinion on whether it's true or not.

But the agent famine is a fact. In the past two days three first-novelists have asked me about getting agents. Two said they had no further manuscripts. I told them politely to stop hungering for agents and get busy being their own agents and seeking alternatives: small presses, subsidy publishing, self-publishing, e-publishing, broadcasts....or at least to go to a local writers' meeting and start networking. The third writer had her romance novel rejected by a big publisher, but she'd also sent a proposal for a book of nonfiction about a sustainable farm. The publisher said that topic was hot, and asked to see chapters. At what point, the author asked, should she get an agent? I said, you've got a publisher's ear. That's very rare. Do a good job with the nonfiction and don't add an agent to the mix until your nonfiction book is published and successful. Then your novel may find an agent.

Just as you prefer to hire contractors that have been in business for a few years and have references, agents want the same from you. I wish agents were just aching to represent your first novel. They are not. Artificial difficulty. But there are genuine solutions.

1 comment:

  1. It's so true -- there are ways to make it in this business, we just need to stop blaming the system and start finding ways to make it work for ourselves!