Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Ask the Authors: Tuesday

Ask the Authors: Tuesday

If you have questions you’d like us to ask during a future “Ask the Authors” week, send it to CharisConnection@gmail.com. As always, thanks for joining us!

Today’s Question: Do you use an agent? Why or why not?

I don't use an agent. When I started in CBA, agents were rare. So I did my own deals and still do and know the results are as good as an agent would have garnered. Thus I can't justify the 15%. But this approach is not for most writers. I'm all for a good agent, and someday may have one myself. However, know this: a bad agent is worse than no agent. -- James Scott Bell

Yes. Because I'd still be getting really low advances if I didn't. Also, an agent can help shape your career, offer advice, and obviously, they have their foot in doorways you don't even know exist. --Lisa Samson

I’m presently without an agent. The author/agent relationship is indeed like a marriage, and I haven’t been able to find the perfect ‘mate’. I have come to realize that I have false expectations when it comes to an agent, but I’ll share what I feel an agent should do and be. An agent is not expected to work miracles. An agent can only advise and move you forward in your career; in a new author’s career they can open doors that might not otherwise open. In a seasoned writer career (ironically) they need more. They need a constant and vocal champion, one that believes fully in their work and is aware of their goals, always working to help the author achieve that goal, and give sound advice at all times. I suppose my perfect mate would be like the husband that always heard what I said. --Lori Copeland

Always have, always will. I don’t want to be the one negotiating my contracts, and a good agent will do it far better than I ever could anyway. ~Brandilyn Collins

I agented myself for the first nine years of my career and feel I was quite successful at it, but there came a point when I really wanted and needed to spend less time on the business aspects of writing and concentrate more on the writing itself. When I heard Steve Laube had hung out his shingle, I knew I’d found my agent. (Steve was an editor at Bethany House when I submitted my first novel to them and he had championed my work there.) I have no regrets about those years serving as my own agent, but I’ve been with Steve for three and a half years now and I’ll never go back. ––Deborah Raney

Yes--but only after the fifteen years or so that it took me to discover that I hate negotiating and hate "sticky situations" even more. I continue to realize that working with a good agent (emphasis on good) is well worth the commission you pay out, for any number of reasons--not the least of which is that it allows me to concentrate more on the writing than the headaches. A good agent does much, much more than handle contracts and hold your hand. -BJ Hoff

Mel and I signed on with an agent when we changed publishers, because this particular agent has a lot of publishing expertise, and could guide us in the transition. Also, our present publisher requires an agent for the women's fiction line. -- Hannah Alexander

I do. Sara Fortenberry and I have been together for 10+ years. She handles the sticky-wicket things that invariably come up in a publishing relationship and checks out my contracts thoroughly. Yet her greatest gifts to me are feedback on my works-in-progress and direction as I plan what's next. The best agents understand all sides of things--publishing, retailing, marketing, and writing. I'm really blessed to have someone in my corner who gets the Big Picture. --- Liz Curtis Higgs

Yes, I use an agent. I sold my first seven books myself, but then obtained my first agent. My agent negotiates my contracts, sells foreign rights, handles problems when they arise (bad covers, marketing issues, etc.), verifies my royalty statements, and much more. But the primary reason I have an agent is that she is my champion. -- Robin Lee Hatcher

Yes, because I need one. I recommend to any emerging author that she/he spend as much time trying to find the right agent as is spent on writing. Once, when I lost an agent who had left the agency, I thought it was no big deal. I had a new writing contract and three years to shop for a new agent, or so it seemed. Then I noticed irritating issues popping up all of a sudden that left me feeling really uneasy. It was if the once purely joyful relationship between the publisher and me was suddenly tainted. Once I found new representation, suddenly the troubled waters were stilled. You have no idea of the PR work that goes on behind the scenes on your behalf by your agent. A good agent does more good than simply landing you a book contract. They take care of many issues without ever telling you. They’re your advocate, keeping your work and your concerns ever in front of the publisher. If they don’t, you need to shop for a new agent. --Patty Hickman

Yes—I sold 17 books without an agent, but wouldn’t be without one now. I want to concentrate on writing, and my wonderful agent helps me do that. –Angela Hunt

I do have an agent, Greg Johnson, whom I tend to think of as a partner, just as I think of editors as partners. My agent believed in my work and has encouraged me from the beginning, so one thing he brings to the table is a sense of loyal support which is much needed during spells of creative drought. He also serves to keep me at arm’s length from the business side of things, which removes the more prosaic sub-currents from my relationships with editors, and therefore makes the editorial process much more effortlessly creative and constructive than it might be otherwise. —Athol Dickson.

Yes. Because I like to focus on the fun part of being a writer, which is writing and being in touch with the readers and editors. I leave the rest, such as negotiations and dealing with conflicts, to my wonderful agent, Steve Laube. Also, Steve helps me keep my focus in my writing world. I need someone like that, to act as a sounding board of voice of reason. --Karen Ball

For years I didn’t have an agent, then I did, then I didn’t, now I do. When I got started in the business no one had agents and sometimes I still have trouble with having a go-between. I’ve always enjoyed having direct relationships with publishers. So why do I have an agent? With a ministry background, I can’t look a publisher in the eye and say, “Jack Cavanaugh’s worth more than that.” My agent can. — Jack Cavanaugh


At 12:35 PM, Blogger Katie Hart - Pinterest Manager said...

Yep, Jack Cavanaugh's definitely worth more than that. Just finished reading an ARC of Fury for a review yesterday - loved it.

At 4:23 PM, Blogger Richard L. Mabry, MD said...

It's great to read about the diversity of situations and reasons detailed by this stellar group of authors. One comment should be made, though.
For "newbies" in the field, the problem remains that gaining representation by an agent is generally as difficult, perhaps moreso, than getting an editor to consider your work. Sort of like a bank that will loan you money if you can prove you don't need it. Being unagented is more a circumstance than a conscious decision for some authors.
A collective thank you to all the members of CC for their efforts and their example. Keep the information coming.

At 6:05 PM, Blogger Southern-fried Fiction said...

Hmph, if I had a name like James Scott Bell, I woudln't need one either. (snicker)

Sorry, Jim. Couldn't resist.

For newbies, agents are a necessity any more. Too many of the houses are going to not accepting any uinsolicited queries even! I'm thankful God provided me with an agent who champions my work.

At 7:25 PM, Blogger Bonnie S. Calhoun said...

Jack's answer is my best reason that we as authors need an agent!
I will follow this advice!


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