Blogger: Mary Keeley
A client sent me the link to a May 8, 2013 blog post by Caleb Pirtle III. It was not so much a surprise as it was startling in the degree of his disgruntlement and that of those who commented. You can read it here. I feel the need to respond to his assertions on behalf of CBA agents and in support of our authors.
I am pleased and thankful to be able to say I haven’t heard anything approaching this level of dissatisfaction about agents in CBA. We certainly aren’t perfect either, but it reassures me to know God is helping us to honor him in our work. That makes all the difference.
First, let’s talk about Pirtle’s assertion that literary agents are an endangered species. He says, “There was a time when an agent was invaluable for authors because those agents were locked solidly into the publishing houses.” He apparently is referring to New York agents because he is making the case that these days New York publishing houses prefer to stick with big-name authors and celebrities because it means sure money for them…and lots of it. They aren’t open to taking a risk on a new author. Consequently, those agents have fewer and fewer opportunities with those houses.
To some degree we see this in CBA as well. But I can assure you that in this industry agents are continually in touch with traditional publishers. We keep current on which ones are looking for which genres. And we continue to nurture our relationships with acquisitions editors. Traditional CBA publishers are looking for exceptional new writers and they rely on agents to deliver them. Be encouraged.
Perhaps the New York agents Pirtle refers to use a different model. If they take only the short view to the next marketable book that will make them a lot of money, they will naturally render themselves more expendable in the current New York publishing climate.
Long-term career planning and client care are hallmarks of our agency. It’s what good CBA agents do. This approach helps all of us to weather trends and the transformation going on in our industry. For example, most agents in our industry continually look for the best avenues for our clients to publish e-books, strategize the best time to work these in to their traditional publishing schedules, and negotiate fair contracts. Authors who aren’t getting anywhere with New York agents and publishers must navigate this road on their own, and that may not go very well.
Pirtle’s views present an opportunity and a charge for all of us involved in the CBA industry. The charge: continue to let our lights shine before the publishing world. Agents, authors, publishers—anyone involved in Christian publishing—must continue to shine gospel light through our integrity, client care, fair approach, and cooperative dealings.
Let us never acquiesce to hiding the light of the gospel under the cloak of political correctness. By that I mean we must not shy away from shining the light of the gospel in our dealings and in our content out of concern that it will negatively affect sales amidst the growing cultural prejudice against Christianity. God is in charge of outcomes. And the Bible tells us, “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:33).
Are CBA agents willing to take a risk on a new author who writes in a new hot genre, thus stirring the saturated waters of the CBA pot? I hope so. I know I am because I believe it’s a healthy approach for traditional CBA publishers and writers…and for our readers, who have grown in the last decade and are ready to embrace something new.
Thanks for reading my musings in response to Caleb Pirtle III’s blog. What are your reactions to his post?
Response to author disgruntled by New York agents and publishers @marygkeeley. Click to Tweet.
Are agents an endangered species? Click to Tweet.
What is going right in Christian publishing? Click to Tweet.