July 22nd, 2005


getting your 15% worth

In case anyone was wondering what else they might get for that commission paid on sales.... Among other things.... Attention to subsidiary rights. I just spent the last two and a half hours revising my author information files so I could print reports to include with the copies of recent publications I'm sending to my agents in Spain and Germany. And then writing the pitch cover letters that accompany those packages, detailing the contents and why my foreign rep should spend their time on these works. And shortly I will be carrying what looks like serious poundage to the post office so I can fill out the customs forms and try not to cringe too much at the postage cost. I'm not complaining. It's fairly likely these packages will yield a translation sale that will mean more money for both the author and myself. In fact, I've had a pretty good year on that front; over 10 sales, and two of them in countries where I hadn't placed before. I'm actually pretty excited about that.

I think it's just that it's Friday and it's been a busy week, and I've been thinking about a couple comments I saw somewhere recently about agents and what they do for you and whether they are worth it. Maybe some of them aren't. Not all agents are created equal. But I am *not* just sitting here, reading brilliant manuscripts and being wined and dined by the literati. Oh, for the glamorous life of an agent as portrayed in fiction. Because that's what those kinds of stories are. Agents -- good agents -- work hard to assist each and every client to succeed to the best of their ability. That's your 15% worth. And, if you're not getting it, you should discuss it with your agent. But, as long as I'm having a cranky moment, here... before you do that, look well to your own glass house. Because not all writers are created equal either. And if you're not giving it 110%, perhaps that should be addressed before you find your agent lacking. It's both accurate and fair, I think, to say that agents will pay more attention to writers who are trying harder -- who are pushing themselves at the craft level, and who are producing novels that are saleable on a regular basis. They have to consider the realities and restrictions of an industry which publishes a limited number of books per year with an ever-dwindling supply of over-worked editors to buy those books.

I don't need any reassurance, here. I got that yesterday. *waves* at mizkit and puzzlehouse, among others. And, while it's nice to hear (you'd be amazed at how rare the thank-you's are to agents), I didn't even really *need* those. I just really liked them. *g* I know that I am working hard. I know that I am doing the best job that I can for everybody. But I also know that triage is a reality I have to face, and that my rating system of who goes first might not make sense to everyone (especially if they always want to go first). Heck, I even have a client who keeps knocking *herself* out of triage because she's turning in other things that prevent me from getting to an earlier item. But I will get there. And I'm reasonably certain she's aware of that. I wish everyone else was too.

< / cranky >

And now back to work. At least there are a few perks... While I was waiting for a meeting at Random House on Tuesday, I got to rub my fingers on the manuscript for George R.R. Martin's A Feast for Crows. Yes, Virginia, it actually will be published.
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