Blogger: Rachelle Gardner
Did you know that we—the agents at Books & Such—invented publishing? Yep. Book publishers, agents, querying, marketing, social media—the whole shebang, we thought of it, created the system and built it from the ground up.
Wait—what? We didn’t build the publishing industry? You mean we’re not responsible for the crazy query system, and the difficulty getting published, and the fact that authors have to market their books?
Phew! I was worried there—because I’ve noticed that we agents are often in the position of having to not only explain some aspect of publishing, but to defend it. A lot of times the questions directed to agents have a tone that says: “This system is broken—so fix it!”
Obviously we didn’t invent the system—we work inside the system, just like you do. Agents and editors are cogs in the machine and we have little control over how the wheel turns. We advocate for authors and partner with them to build the best possible writing career, and we make connections between authors and publishers. And we do have to explain the way things work. And sometimes that can be frustrating—for us and for you. Especially when we have news you don’t want to hear, such as:
- Agents can’t give feedback on every query that comes in.
- Certain books (and genres) are difficult to sell, no matter how much we love them.
- Once you get your first book contract, you may need to specialize in a genre for at least a few books.
- Writing for the Christian market requires you follow certain guidelines.
- Every genre, in fact, has guidelines.
- Yes, you do have write things like pitches, hooks, synopses, proposals, etc. (even if you’re self-publishing!)
- While I would prefer to allow all authors to do nothing but write their books, it doesn’t work that way and a platform is almost always required.
- All the marketing in the world can’t guarantee book sales.
- Success in publishing involves some serendipity.
When you hear an agent say these things, remember it’s because we know the system and we’re trying to help you work the system. We’re trying to get you published. So try not to hold the negative parts against us.
What are some things you’ve heard along this publishing journey that you don’t like?