A post in which the author signs with an agent.
I just dropped my daughter off at a friend’s house for an hour, and because of a schedule snafu, I’m not going to a PT appointment but am hanging out before I have to take Anna to clean a horse instead. Dan, meanwhile, is at work. I am home alone. The fact that I did NOT go to Tobacco Outlet and buy a pack of Dunhills* is a sign of my personal and moral development. Honestly? I’d rather have the Dunhills.
Lutin, as per usual, has this all summarized nicely (and as usual, with some spelling errors) on the Daily Fix.
hopefully not open
but you have to divide mentally your attention now
between looking ahead to the future
with enthusiasm and courage
while dealing with some very present realities
that will of course lead you directly TO that future
if you don’t let the current situations
drag you down.
It’s not easy being Virgo, and it’s no more fun being Virgo with Scorpio rising and a Cancer moon. The drama, it bleeds, and it makes a mess on the floor, which is so unpleasant and must be cleaned. Plus, there’s nothing a Virgo loves more than to insist, thin-lipped, "I’m fine," and this drama stuff makes it difficult. It’s especially annoying when the Virgo part knows its all really manufactured bullshit anyway. But the crack cocaine is that this is drama about PLANNING. Planning, now. That’s very different. Planning is very important. And so here I am, sweet corn season in Iowa, and I’m not licking butter off my fingers after I devour another ear. I’m eating my own arm. Where should this manuscript go? What should I ask for? How can I make this a solid career? Am I doing it right? Is there something I’m not paying enough attention to? Does that social networking thing really matter? Does anybody actually USE LinkedIn beyond accepting connection requests from people? Aren’t I supposed to actually write occasionally instead of worry about all this horseshit? How can any of this be validated? Should it be? Seriously, aren’t I supposed to be writing right now?
As Annie Lennox would say, these are the contents of my head. Which is why, thank you Jesus, I am signing with an agent.
You will now have questions. They will be one or all of the following:
1. Why do you have an agent? You’re writing m/m, a niche genre. Have you not read your royalty statements? You want to share THAT?
2. HOW DID YOU GET AN AGENT, HOLY SHIT!!!! They don’t even answer my queries!
3. Who is your agent?
4. Um… what’s an agent?
Questions answered, in reverse order:
An agent in this instance is a literary agent. Essentially, she will be my gatekeeper. It is her job to sell my books. She will receive my manuscripts, tell me "good job" or "fix this please" or "tweak that, I have an idea," and then she will sally forth and sell my ass to the highest bidder. And she will go for the highest bidder. The best deal, both monetarily and contractually. She will look not just to the now but to the future. Because this is about career and money for both of us. We would both like some of each. And by signing with her, we each get linked to the other. My success is hers. She gets 15% of everything I make that she sells. So she will try to make that sale higher and higher. Not with promotion, really, but with placement. It’s her job to know where to sell me and what to get away with. It is her job to argue over contracts. I have input here, but whereas talking about contracts make me skip right over Dunhills and go to vomit-territory, she thinks they’re fun. They are something to be conquered and mastered, god bless her soul. It is her job to be networked and savvy and a killer salesperson. It is my job to write, consider her reports, make some decisions, and sign things. And not smoke Dunhills.
My agent is Saritza Hernandez. She is the "epub agent" at the L. Perkins Agency, which is a New York agency, for those of you raising your eyebrows, though in the epub world I’m not entirely sure location matters anymore. I’m connected to them, and should the opportunity arise to get in on the more traditional NY scene, there they are. But also, this means Saritza is privy to their knowledge and their experience and their contacts, and as the divide between epublishing and traditional publishing further blurs, this is going to be pretty damn important.
How did I get an agent? Jesus. You really don’t want to know. Frustration, poor impulse control, and Twitter. And dumb luck. You know when you hear the best way to do well is write a really good book? Yeah. That. She liked Special Delivery. No letter, no query, no nothing. Just, "Um, so, can I ask you a question?" And she said yes, what is it, and I started blurting out how much I hate trying to sell shit and she started selling herself and my potential future, and I thought, "Wow. This is intense. I want this working for me. Yes, please." So here we are.
And now you want to know why.
The answer is that cryptic opening about astrology and the Dunhill reference now so recurrent four of you are now smoking even though you never smoked before in your life and six former addicts are gnawing their fingernails and mentally mapping the distance between them and the nearest store. Do I need an agent in this small genre with very, very small profits? Do I need an agent when I already have contacts with publishers and credits enough to submit on my own and be heard? Do I need one when I already take the time to read contracts carefully and WILL argue points that upset me?
The answer to all these questions and the others I just couldn’t think of is YES. FUCK. YES.
ME, I need one. Oh, some of you, no. A lot of people are smarter than me and less neurotic and many other superlatives, and those people are fine. Me, I’m a mess. I have Randy Jansen in my head. I calcuate odds without realizing I’m doing it, analyzing outcomes, examining futures, making myself crazy until even though I’m very, very smart, it is so much easier to just play prop poker and work as a mechanic and take life as it comes. But unlike Randy, I do have a bit of ambition. Largely I’d like to contribute financially to my household and pay for Anna’s college and take trips to spawn more plot bunnies. Beyond that is gravy, but my ambitions and my current reality are not quite lining up. And yes, sorting out the business stuff is work. Lots of work. The promo I don’t know about. I think most of it is masturbation, really. I think mostly I try to be accessible and out there and myself, and if people like that and decide to click on my website to see what the crazy person is all about and end up buying a book, well, so much the better. Mostly I’d like to write really good books and have them sell because they’re really good books and those are always popular. But I can’t write at the pace you need to write to make enough money and be competitive AND sort the business stuff and still be good. Not without substance abuse.
So this is why an agent. Yes. Right now she is sharing the crusts of my peanut butter sandwich. But the idea is that she’d like to be shaving off the heel of my porterhouse steak, so she’ll be looking to get us both a better meal. My job is now to write good books. Really good books. Her job is to find the place for them to go and make us money. Yes, at first this will be a bit of a cut, but I’m hoping not for long.
I’m still having a hard time putting this worry doll down. And yes, there are moments where Randy is still whispering odds into my ear. But I try to send him off with and Mitch for more porn and quality time, and I try to say things like, "That’s for Saritza to worry about now." It will still take a few days for that to sink in. And it doesn’t make everything go away. I still have to unsnarl Two To Tango, a task which is the other half of the Dunhill obsession. And yes, as I write it and it gets longer, not shorter, and I wonder where this should go and what I should do and whether or not I should just kill myself, I say, once again, "That is for Saritza to worry about. Just unsnarl the fucking plot," and back we go.
Of course, I still have to unsnarl the fucking plot. And for this God made coffee, whiteboards, and Jameson’s whiskey. Or, sometimes, Arbor Mist.
I swear, soon I will actually blog fun and random things like the murals I’m painting on Anna’s windows and sunsets and bunnies and other such things. As soon as I get a life, I will blog about it.
Back to work. Which will not involve worrying about contracts, odds, or cigarettes.
*Dunhills are cigarettes. Fantastically wonderful yummy British cigarettes. I got re-addicted when I visited in 2007. Do you know what he smoked, in the land of Dunhills? MARLBORO LIGHTS. The pain. The pain.