Monday, August 20, 2012

Agents --- A New Post

Well, I made a mess of things. Again. We authors think that the world is just waiting to read our words; pregnant with the possibility of changing the world into something new and fresh and redeemed. When, in fact, our words can carry hurt and convey the wrong meaning.

I deleted today’s post as soon as I heard from one of my agents. Here is what I meant to say in a way that will not offend anyone.

1 -- Check out your potential agent before you sign a contract. Not all agents are above board and honest. Most are Godly men and women who want to serve the Lord by bringing you, the author, to a matching publisher. But, check out the testimonials. Talk to the clients of your prospective agent.

2 -- Check your contract carefully. There may be hidden costs involved in using an agent. You may have to pay for editing a book proposal, for instance. Or, you may have to pay for postage above a certain level although in today’s world, most book proposals are sent via email.

3 -- Communicate, communicate, communicate! The expectations of the author are usually not nearly as down to earth as the reality dictates. The agent has been around the block and knows the business well. If you have a good agent, listen to your agent. Trust your agent. But, make sure you are both on the same page!

4 -- Don’t ever write a blog entry talking about your former agents! Bad form! Even if using a pseudonym! I never want to hurt a fellow brother or sister in Christ. And, the failure of my relationship with a former agent must always be on my back. If I pay attention to those first three points, then the relationship will grow and strengthen. My failure as an author continues to be a failure if I don’t learn from it!!

What do you think? How did you find an agent? What do you recommend when searching for an agent?


Clint Hall said...

Great blog! I'm currently look for an agent and/or publisher for my first fiction novel, so I found this very helpful. Thanks!

Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar said...

I'm on my 3rd agent too. It's all a matter of who believes in your work enough to peddle it. Can he/she sell it? And things/circumstances change all the time.

Lena Nelson Dooley said...

Bruce, this is a very good post. I've been happy with my first agent. We became friends, and she pursued me to be her client. I've been abundantly blessed by her.

But with the people I've mentored, a number of them had not so good experiences with an agent, so this is so timely.

Bruce Hennigan said...

Man, did I get some email on this one!
I heard back from one of the agents and that agent recognized I was speaking of that agent.
Let me say that I did take a bit of "dramatic license" in my depiction of the agents involved. Recognize that we as authors have to be very proactive with our agents. We cannot sit around and wait for them to do all the work. They are our PARTNERS. It reminds of a parent of a teenager who expects the youth minister to take care of the teenager's spiritual needs. The parents has a responsibility too. Authors also have a responsibility to partner with the agent. Keep the lines of communication OPEN! And, a good agent will tell you if your works stinks!! Listen to that agent and get some objective, third party assessment of your work with a manuscript critique service, for instance.
Again, if anyone is offended by my remarks, I apologize. Everything I have been through is part of God's learning curve. And, I guess this is a lesson we authors should take away from my experiences. If we are a "failure" at something, it only remains a "failure" if we do not learn from our mistakes and grow and move on.
Just be wary and careful when you look for an agent. They will become your "significant other" in the writing business.

Kevin Butler said...

Awesome article. Hilarious that the agent recognized himself in this post and emailed you. Wow.

Bruce Hennigan said...

Well, I don't want to hurt anyone. My strongest desire is to remain at peace with my brothers and sisters in Christ. To that end, I have changed my post to make it less personal. Two of the agents I have worked with are excellent. In one instance, I was the immature, inexperienced author who failed to make the situation work. In the other, I had grown by then and my relationship with that agent is strong and healthy.
Both of these agents are excellent and well known in the industry. I feel they both have taught me a great deal about being a published author and for that I am grateful!

Greg Mitchell said...

I still don't have an agent!

Bruce Hennigan said...

Last night, I had an email exchange with one of my agents. It was very gracious and I realized that there is always two sides to every story. No doubt, I was still wet behind the ears in my experiences with the first two agents and this naiveté and a certain amount of hubris served as a facade for those memories. I was the one offended, as I remembered. But, after reviewing the emails and exchanges from that period, I can see that I just wasn't ready for mainstream publishing.
Now, I believe I am. I still have doubts. I am still paranoid. And, my childhood inferiority complex still rears its ugly head and smothers me in fear and uncertainty. But, I have learned to take every experience and make the best of it; to redeem all such moments and move on and move upward.
As of last night about 10 PM, I felt at peace with one of my former agents. I am glad we had an exchange over this email. It has allowed me to put aside a painful part of my past and realize I needed that struggle to grow.
Now, I am moving on and working on book number four for Realms!