On Speaking to a Literary Agent
Today I stressed all day because I was to receive a phone call from a literary agent from Glass Road Media Management. I was so excited to get the phone call, and had a great meeting with Rebeca and Charlie Seitz who own the company. Our meeting went well, and we spoke for nearly 90 minutes about publishing and the options available for my latest book This Broken Earth.
I listened intently as they spoke to me about where the publishing industry is going, how my book could change for the better, and what they could do for me as an agency.
A couple of things you must do as a writer if you want to be published traditionally:
1. Be Flexible – Rebeca and Charlie had many suggestions that I could do to my novel to make it sing, and I plan on doing those very things. They also coupled that with some very lovely praises. I am not making the changes to get it published or because I’m sacrificing my “art”, but because these people know what works and what doesn’t for a narrative, and it is best for me to take their advice. I will be making the changes. They are wise changes, and make much sense from a reader’s perspective.
2. Be Persistent – I sent out 40 query letters this last time, and have been doing that for years. Get a book about writing these letters, keep them short. Agencies get tons of e-mails a day and they have to read through a lot of it. Do your homework.
3. Be Humble – Rebeca told me that there are basically three types of writers who get published through publishing houses: A, B, and C writers:
C Writers – These writers are writers who are just starting out. They might get their first publishing contract through a small publishing house or even a big one, but because they are not well known, the publishing house will publish their book but expect the writer to do all the legwork, cover design, publicity, and promotion. This is expensive and most writers don’t do this.
B Writers – These writers have published a few books and have their sales increase enough for a publisher to spend a little more money on them (i.e. cover design, publicity) but still have to schlep around and go door to door themselves, doing much of their own publicity and legwork.
A Writers – These people are the pinnacle, the celebrity writers who are best sellers. These people get the red carpet treatment and publishers spend big bucks to promote them, plus give the author an advance.
All of these writers get an advance for their published work, but how that advance is spent is the key. If you are humble and want to spend that advance on publicity, a nice cover, and other things to promote your book, then you can do what self-published authors do but with the perk of getting your book in brick and mortar stores more readily (because the books are returnable) and getting more bang for your buck with the promotion that you were going to do anyway as a self-publisher.
I am still in the talking stage with Glass Road, but things are positive, and I will continue to pursue traditional publishing for This Broken Earth, as Rebeca is going to help me get my foot in the door with a couple of publishers soon. I am very grateful to them for taking a chance with me, and am excited about moving forward with their company if things initially work out for us.
I’m looking forward to great things, and hope that soon (probably a year) I’ll be seeing This Broken Earth on brick and mortar book shelves everywhere. Until then, I’ll start to work on making the changes, and will also write that next novel.