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Write and publish with love and fury.

Writers : How “hands-on” do you want your agent to be?

A diagram of cognitive dissonance theory

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I ran across an interview with an agent here. She sounds very nice. But the first couple of questions got me to wondering…

The agent mentions that she’s been lucky to never have to work on a book she didn’t “love.”

Okay. That’s great. Or is this a red flag? It’s a common sentiment among agents across the board. They want to be “delighted.” They have to love it to sell it. Hm. As a former sales rep of hundreds (thousands?) of books, I can tell you I sold many books I hadn’t even read. I’m not recommending that. I am saying that’s real. I fail to understand why agents have to love books to sell them. Shouldn’t the question be, would others want to read this? Do I know an editor who would like this?

You’ve bought a lot of books. You’ve read quite a few of that number, even to the end. How many books have you read that you really and truly “love”?

Then the agent discusses being very “hands-on.” There’s kind of a cognitive dissonance here, isn’t there? I’m not picking on this one agent. Again, she’s saying stuff that a lot of agents say. But on the one hand, the agent has to love the manuscript. On the other, there’s apparently lots of work ahead before it’s presentable for submission to an editor. Uh…whut? Shouldn’t it be one or the other?

Here’s a take on this from an author who sees the agent-author relationship a different way, and by that I mean upside-down from the way it’s usually portrayed. Dean Wesley Smith sees the agent as his employee and is not interested in jumping through their hoops. He doesn’t want to be slowed down by the agent’s process (though he has used agents.) He’s not interested in any employee slowing his process, production or sales. I recommend you read all his posts on Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing. It’s refreshing.

So here are my questions:

Do you want your agent to love your book or is liking it good enough for you?

Do you want your agent to edit your manuscript to make it better up front?

Do you prefer that your agent be more hands-off and just get it to market?

Addendum: The agent adds, “Basically, build yourself as big of a social media platform as you can before your book ever comes out.” Good advice for both the indie published and the traditionally published. But, if you can get your social media platform big enough, do you need a traditional publisher at all?

My new BFF Jason Alexander Greenwood asked himself these questions and came up with an indie answer. If you missed my link to his post on Sunday, read Shoot the Gatekeepers here.

Filed under: agents, authors, Editors, getting it done, links, manuscript evaluation, publishing, Rant, Rejection, , , , , ,

6 Responses

  1. Another great post! That last point about social media platforms is more evidence of the shifting sands under the once solid foundations of traditional publishing…

  2. Chazz says:

    Thanks, man!
    Anybody got any answers to these questions? The plea wasn’t rhetorical. I really want to know what stance you want from your agent.
    Thanks!

  3. […] Writers : How “hands-on” do you want your agent to be? (chazzwrites.wordpress.com) […]

  4. […] Writers : How “hands-on” do you want your agent to be? (chazzwrites.wordpress.com) […]

  5. […] Writers : How “hands-on” do you want your agent to be? (chazzwrites.wordpress.com) […]

  6. […] Writers : How “hands-on” do you want your agent to be? (chazzwrites.wordpress.com) […]

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