Friday, August 3, 2012

Agent – yes or no?


I was recently contacted by a prominent NY literary agency who shall remain nameless at this point about possible representation. They got wind of me because of my constant promotional efforts and then explored a little deeper into the kinds of books I write. They have not said they will definitely represent me but want to see more samples of my writing and my future projects. I am having a tough time trying to decide what to do about this sudden interest in me so I’ve listed the pros and cons of having an agent at this point in the game. First the pros: It will open me up to a higher level of the industry; also, I may get a large advance (though advances are rapidly disappearing), I can tell all my friends I have a big-time agent… that’s about it. I’m sure there’s more, but that’s the gist if I don’t have to worry about contracts, clauses, and timeframes. Now the cons of having an agent: I can’t write whatever I want and must adhere to what someone else will think will sell, I can only put out a book a year even if I write more, I have to wait a minimum of two years for a book to go through the publishing process before it even gets on a shelf, (if bookstores still even exist at that point), my royalties will be less than half what I make now, I have to wait for committees and meetings and budget proposals before I even know if my book will be published, it will only be published if the house thinks it will make them money— I’ve had enough! Although it is as alluring to sign with an agent as it is to eat the forbidden apple, I must confess I think I’m done with the corporate BS for good. When I was signed with Gary Heidt at FinePrint Lit and then Signature Lit., we came close to signing a deal so many times my heart just couldn’t take it anymore. The last straws for me was when SILENT INVASION was rejected, not because the editor didn’t think it was good (he said it was great) but because their marketing department said it wouldn’t appeal to girls age 9-12. Another editor (the VP of Random House Children’s Division) requested and read AFTER in one night. He got back to Gary the next day praising the book, but said he had no idea how he would get it passed the dozens of hurdles needed to publish when the story was so non-mainstream. He rejected it. Sitting here, thinking back to those heartbreaking days and thinking about the joy I feel every time I see another of my books sell on Kindle or Nook, I just can’t justify signing away my artistic freedom to reaffirm my ego. I see the future of authors working with traditional publishers and I don’t think it’s as rosy as some would like. I think I’ll stay indie, thank you.