Sunday, 20 September 2009

Emma Darwin Makes Some Points About Agents

A while back, Frances raised the eternal issue of whether or not those of us who are unagented ought to be seeking agents. I responded with a post on my blog giving my perspective.

A couple of days ago, the ever-thoughtful, always-readable Emma Darwin dropped a few paragraphs on my comment trail. Since that post is now ancient history by blogosphere standards, I thought I should reprint it here:

A couple of other reasons:

Editors move on, or out, and faster than ever these days. Your agent is in it for the long term. And divorce is easier, in a sense, than it is with a publisher who's not doing their stuff on your book.

If you do want to change publisher, even when you're published you're liable to hit the problem that the majority of mainstream houses won't consider un-agented adult fiction manuscripts.

Your interests and your publisher's interests are not identical, but, you're right, to work well with an editor you need to get on. If it comes to holding out for a title, or arguing with a cover, it can be enormously helpful if your agent can be bad guy, so you can stay friends with your editor. Or if you are in the negotations, then knowing you have an agent at your back is immensely empowering. On the other hand, your agent may be best placed to explain why it needs to be how your editor wants it to be, in a way which means you can bear it.

Your agent knows much, much more than you do about what your publisher must do for you, what they should do for you, and what they might do for you if you can persuade them it'll pay off. When it comes to sales, marketing and publicity, you're in competition with all the other authors at your publishers for a lot of their time and money. Your agent is probably better than you are at persuading them why it should be steered towards your work.

If you have an agent you're not dependent on your publisher for selling your subsidiary rights. Not only may your agent get better deals, but the money from the deals your agent does comes straight to them and you. The money for the deals your publisher does goes into the pot to pay off your advance. Cashflow problems for writers are awful: sub rights sprinkled through the year can really help.

Food for thought. (Any of you who don't follow Emma's blog--and her novels!--ought to give both a try; her blog is one of the few I feel is indispensible.)

1 comment:

Alis said...

Hi David - thanks for this. I agree about Emma Darwin's blog - she's in the top 10, ie blogs I check at least twice a week. Quite like her fiction, too!