Friday, May 21, 2010

Dean Wesley Smith and the Agent Debate

Dean Wesley Smith is a long time writer with over 90 books to his credit. Smith writes in various genre, under various pen names. In "Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing" he makes several points that wannabe writers should consider before they attempt to market a manuscript to anyone, publisher or agent.

Dean's first point: the writer employs the agent. 
The purpose of having an agent is to negotiate the terms of a contract between the writer and the publisher. (If the writer doesn't have a contract, then s/he doesn't need an agent.) Dean asserts that the 'terms of power' switched. Writers are no longer in control of the relationship – the agent is in charge. (Yes, I'm aware that the agent has become the 'gatekeeper' a term that implies the 'unwashed masses' need to be kept from the hallowed halls of publishing. Stay with me.)

Dean's second point: The duties of the agent should not include marketing. He asserts that most agents are editors who have lost their jobs. If said agent was an editor then that person's business relationships are limited to the one or two companies for whom they worked. This rings true, since most agents want to know to whom your work compares and in which genre it fits. (Writer beware, if you don't know the market for your book, you are in trouble.)

Here's an info bite I heard on the Litopia Podcasts – last year, at a British conference, there were more agents present than authors. 

This may look like good news on the surface. Are former editors automatically qualified agents? The modern agent spends their time reading a pile of queries – modern slush piles transferred to them. Agents look for trivial editorial issues to reject a query letter, as former editors they would have exacting standards. Most agents are interested in your qualifications to write the book. There is no certification or qualification to be an agent. Buy some stationary and put your name on it, put up a webpage, and if you want to be a superstar – blog about yourself.

Also, many agents want to know your marketing plan for the book – before they even look at a synopsis. This implies a limited view of the publishing market. Marketing experts in other industries tend to have a broad view of what's 'out there.' Publishing is a rather small industry compared to say – electronics. If the agent doesn't know the market, are they the right person to handle marketing? We don't take our cars to the dentist if they don't start. Agents are for negotiating (large) contracts. No contract? No agent required. If your book needs edited, hire an editor, not an agent.

My point is simple – You know the book inside and out, empower yourself, take control of your career, market your book. You'll save yourself a lot of time, a ton of frustration and maybe some money.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rand Paul and the Tea Party

Last night, out of curiosity I tuned in to see what Rand Paul had to say.

My first impression: He's even worse than I thought. He doesn't see himself as working for the people of Kentucky. He's a "Tea Party Candidate" through and through.

"Take our government back..." from whom? Rational America just GOT the bleeding wreck back from the "Last Days" crowd. Do we need to hand it back to the very fools who wrecked it? I think not - and I bet I'm not the only one.

It got worse when he appeared on one of my favorite political shows. Even being charitable, Rand Paul is lukewarm on Civil Rights, at best. My depression-born father had more progressive world-views than Rand Paul.

I believe that electing Rand Paul to the Senate would tell the world that Kentucky is politically backward. I, for one, don't think he represents the 'average' resident of my home state.

With that oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico threatening to wreck the eastern coast of both North and South America, the Senate doesn't need a  'tea-brained' senator.

Rand Paul needs to stay on the porch. He's not ready to run with the big dogs of the Obama Administration. 

The 'white sheet' crowd may disagree.

Frak them.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty...

Where has Ms Kitty gone?

I'm knee deep in gardening, buying plants like there is no tomorrow and generally being with Hubby on his vacation.

Quick thoughts - BP is run by idiots, will SOMEBODY start fining those jerks? I will never swim in Gulf Coast waters again. Jon Stewart is the greatest social commentator on TV. Lewis Black slammed Glenn Beck - so toasty!

I'm editing a story about a vet that might sell as YA - maybe.

I'm critiquing a story on Forward Motion, and will be getting some feedback on a story of my own. The process of editing "Let's Do Lunch" is stalled.

I'm lurking on a dozen blogs and spending too much time on Facebook.

That's enough for now.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Garden has Eyes

Trouble poked his nose in the strawberries today. He pulled back with a jerk and a growl.

I thought I saw eyes looking back at me, something dark squatted in my berry patch.

I'm not one to poke around with my bare hands. I've been surprised by enough toothy critters to be wary. Not that I'm afraid of snakes, just spiders, still why invite a bite?

A snake would have slithered away. I don't know of any large lizards. There are many baby rabbits flooded from their burrows after all this rain. Still, it seems to me that a dog wouldn't be afraid of a baby rabbit.

Of course, my mind leans towards the fantastic: A gnome who made the stone-lined garden his home, or a leprechaun. Something my young terrier wouldn't want to tackle. A gremlin of some kind has taken up residence in my berry patch.

I suppose I could write a story about it. If I wasn't already editing "Lunch" to get it posted to the Kindle, I might take the time.

Not right now. I'm trying to get this story ready.

Maybe later.