Blogger: Wendy Lawton
Location: Books & Such Central Valley Office, CA
I’ve been collecting publishing myths lately. I’m amassing quite a collection. I think it’s time to do a little myth busting.
Let’s talk about the alleged Catch 22 that frustrates writers. I know you’ve heard it: You can’t get a book published without an agent, but you can’t get an agent if you are not published.
It’s simply not true! Let me take it apart.
Myth: You can’t get published without an agent. I was a writer before I was an agent and I was published before I had an agent. I met an editor, Julie Allyson Ieron, at a writer’s conference. She requested my proposal and manuscript, and I landed a two-book deal. Not an agent in sight until book #3. And mine is not a rare occurrence. There are a number of wonderful publishing houses that welcome queries directly from writers. And editors from most publishing houses can be found at writer’s conferences, looking for great writers.
Sometimes a potential client will come to me with an offer in hand, knowing that they don’t have the industry knowledge needed to get the best contract and the best deal. It’s not unusual for an agent to come on to a writer’s team when the sale is already made. (And it’s a smart writer who realizes that an agent will more than earn her commission on the contract negotiation alone.)
Myth: You can’t get an agent if you’re unpublished. This second part of the myth is no more true than the first part. If you pick up a copy of Publishers Weekly or read Publishers Marketplace, you’ll find deal after reported deal for debut novels or nonfiction books from brand new authors. There’s nothing an agent likes better than discovering brilliant new talent. We are always on the search for that book or that writer who stands out from all the others.
It’s true that an agent has to strike a balance in her client list–several well-published authors, a sprinkling of bestsellers and a handful of bright new talent–in order to keep the receivables healthy and insure the leverage needed to encourage editors to take a good look at the unpublished authors. But an unpublished author with a stunning book may even have his pick of agents.
So help me bust this myth. Tell us your own story. Have you had an editor request a partial or a manuscript from a writer’s conference? Have you ever submitted directly to a publisher, sans agent? Did you sign with your agent before you were published?