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Thursday, May 20, 2010

MEET MY NEW AGENT ... ANGELINA


I wish.

Boy, do I wish.

But I got your attention, didn't I? Why? Name recognition.

Angelina has it. We don't. But good agents do.

Which brings me to the first of the final points about our need for agents :

I.) A BIRD IN THE HAND ISN'T NEARLY AS COMFORTING AS A GUN IN IT.

You and I are just unknowns, sharpening our elbows to edge into the focus of an agent or editor. Say Angelina is my agent. I did. Aloud. I got shivers, ah, where was I?

Oh, yes, Angelina is my agent. She has worked for 15 years with editors. And every book from an unknown she brought this particular editor has been a solid seller, and many of them have burned up the charts.

Angelina brings him my book. He'll look at it despite not knowing my name, perhaps even if its genre isn't his usual cup of tea. He'll look at it because of Angelina's past track record. And that brings us to the next item :

II.) THE HALO EFFECT :
Angelina has brought this editor nothing but winners. Not one turkey. When he reads my novel, he thinks winner. The context of a situation is a key factor in sales. The tail often wags the dog here. He'll be excited and enthused, expecting to like it. Now compare to that to an eye-weary editor dropping another dusty bundle of papers from a much too high slush pile.

III.) A LITTLE CAN MEAN A LOT ... OF MONEY :
Angelina has had a relationship with this publishing house for 15 years. She's charming, intelligent, and diligent. Over the years, she has constructed an "Angelina Template" contract at this house. Little changes to the company's standard clauses. Never much at one time. But over 15 years, her template contract has significant advantages for her clients over the company's standard contract.

The editor decides to buy my novel. He sends for Angelina's template contract. Say that for Translation Rights it is a 75/25 split in my favor. What's some overseas translation money going to amount to anyway? The editor got away with just giving me $2,500 for an advance, didn't he?

My novel has a major character : a blonde, nubile fae in a short-skirted school uniform. Japanese businessmen are hot for school girls in short skirts. Very hot. School girls like that sell a lot of books, manga, and animation. A Japanese book company offers $50,000 for the translation rights.

That's $37,500 for me. A manga publisher offers $30,000. That's $22,500. So I only got $2,500 for an advance. For just two Japanese translation rights sales, I received $60,000. Sure, Angelina gets her 15%. But didn't she earn it?

And that's just Japan. What about France? Germany? And the other rights like audio that Angelina wrangled a better deal for me. And what if an animation company wants the rights to my book?

All right, you say. But that's a super agent. How am I going to find a competent one, much less one like Angelina? Well, you don't need a superstar agent. All you need is one who has a reputation for professionalism, competence, and a good instinct for winning writing. And how do you find that agent?

IV.) DUE DILIGENCE ISN'T THE NAME OF AN EXOTIC DANCER :
You do your due diligence.

You go to http://www.agentquery.com/ to find at least thirty good agents who deal in the genre you write. You read their requirements. You go to their webpage if Agent Query lists it, and scan the number of their sales and find out what the latest one is. Check its listing in sales on Amazon.

You go to http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/ to find out more about the sales of your selected agents.

If you don't want to pay the $20 monthly fee, go to PREDATOR AND EDITORS http://pred-ed.com/ to see if there are any red flags next to any of the names that you're interested in.

You go to the excellent resource with the odd name : ABSOLUTE WRITE WATER COOLER http://absolutewrite.com/forums/ to search the names of the agents in whom you're interested. ABSOLUTE is an excellent forum that discusses all aspects of writing and the business of getting published. You read the feelings and experiences of writers just like you. It's a fun read. Go there and check it out.

V.) NEVER TRY TO MILK A BULL :
Without an agent you approach a publishing house in a fog. There are rival imprints within the same house. One prints genre. The other only literary fiction. Submit to the wrong imprint. BAM! Certain rejection. And worse, you've blown your one shot at that publishing house.

Within the same imprint there are many editors, each with their own particular slants and hates. One loves pretty boy vampires. The other slings a manuscript with one across the room. Do you know which editor is which? Of course not.

But Angelina does. And there are many editors in each imprint. And she knows what each editor likes and is looking for this very minute. It's her bread and butter to know.

VI.) WAR IS HEAVEN
If the war is a bidding war. They don't happen as much any more. But they do happen.

"Yeah, but not with my novel," you say. Really? Agent Jill Kneerim says in her 11 years as an agent she never saw a bidding war like the one for a book on Shakespeare world's. Shakespeare? That was in 2001. Look it up. See what the author got. Wow is too small a word.

Sometimes a savy agent can get you a huge advance just by taking your novel off the table and ending a bidding war for a huge publishing house before it begins. You would never be able to arrange for a bidding war or an "off the table" deal with random submissions.

VII.) THE TWO MOST BEAUTIFUL WORDS IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARE "CHECK ENCLOSED." -- Dorothy Parker

World Rights. Sometimes a savy agent can get control of those for herself. What? For herself? Yes. And then, she sells, through her own agents worldwide, all those subsidary rights we talked about yesterday : translation, audio, film, etc.

And that money goes directly to you -- and not into your publisher's royalty account. If you don't earn back your royalty, that money would never have stained your palms. Ouch! You get more. And you get it sooner.

So when I say you need an agent, you now understand what I mean. Due diligence, of course. Right now, I'm going to submit my novel to Angelina Jolie. Hey, you never know.

15 comments:

  1. You gave some great website resouorces for #IV.

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  2. More great advice? Awesome. Thanks Roland.

    P&E is the best.

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  3. Keep us posted , I want to know the outcome. Great resource material as well in this post. Much Love.

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  4. Super info! Love the resource materials. Thanks, Roland.

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  5. I'd totally like to have Angelina-Agent too.

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  6. Great post with great resources listed.

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  7. This post is brilliant! Great resources and info (and some humor!). Thanks Roland.

    Have a great weekend! :-)

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  8. Interesting post !!!
    Thanks for your visit
    you are welcome ...
    our blog is only FUN :-)

    Have a Happy Weekend
    Kareltje & Anya
    =^.^=

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  9. Lots of great points and things to consider here. :)

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  10. Fun post and lots of good points. Love the bird and gun in the hand. :)

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  11. So I'm not crazy for coveting Donald Maass! What a relief.

    Good post, and going to be very helpful. Love the sense of humor in all this info.

    That Salt movie looks excellent. A female Bouurne; but I love kick ass women with guns.

    Have a safe and relatively quiet weekend Roland.

    .......dhole

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  12. hey roland, wanna be MY agent? ;)

    exemplary way to sum it all up, bravo!

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  13. If I were an agent, I'd snap you up in a heartbeat, good sir.

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  14. Granted Angie's hot! Yeah, I said it. I'm not afraid. hee hee - but I'd rather Laura Rennert was my agent. Great info Roland. =D

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