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Almost every writer dreams of finding an agent to represent their writing. So many publishers’ websites say “agented work only” or some variance of that statement.

The un-agented path to publication is often small or Indie publishers. There’s nothing wrong with that path – in fact for many writers, it’s the best path to seeing their books in print. Indies are more hands-on, and you can develop a personal relationship with them. The larger publishers often don’t have the time to develop a personal relationship with their writers – so many authors prefer the Indie route.

But what if you want to go the agent-larger publisher route? Where in the world can you find agents looking for science fiction and fantasy (or whatever your genre is)?

A great (though somewhat dated) source is the article, “Agents looking for Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers,” from Publishing and Other Forms of Insanity. The same useful BlogSpot site also has the articles: “Literary Agents Seeking New Writers” and “3 New Agents Seeking Clients – Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Nonfiction, Thrillers, YA, and More” and “7 Established Agents Looking for Writers – Literary Fiction, Memoir, MG, YA, Fantasy, Romance, and More” and lots more articles on agents looking for writers.

So if you’re in the market for an agent, keep on knocking on their metaphoric doors (more likely email inboxes), and best of luck in your search.

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Thanks to Trisha Wooldridge, a fellow member of Broad Unvierse (women who write science fiction, fantasy, and horror), I read this interesting post on whether the same manuscript written by a male versus a female would be considered more seriously. I offer my readers the link, and wonder if this experience is “typical” or a fluke.

I hope this author’s experiences were just a fluke, and the world of agents and publishers is as even-handed as I try to be when editing an anthology.

For your consideration: Homme de Plume What I Learned Sending My Novel Out Under A Male Name.

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You decide to write a book, and do so. Hooray! Now, the next hurdle is its publication.

I read an interesting article which brings up things a writer should think about before their book is published.  Getting the manuscript in its best form, hardcover or softcover, upside and down of searching for a traditional publisher, distribution, etc. are covered. What do you think of Seven Questions Writers Should Ask Before Publishing?

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Thanks to author-editor Katherine Pickett for stopping by and sharing some information about agents. Enjoy! (In case you didn’t see it, last Monday, Katherine stopped by with a guest post about writers and writing communities. Not to be missed!)

To Sign or Not to Sign with an Agent – Excerpt from Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Industry Like a Pro by Katherine Pickett

© 2013 | Kristina Sherk Photography | www.Kristinasherk.com “’Do I need an agent?’ I hear this question frequently from aspiring authors, many times with a tinge of fear in their voices that I might say yes. Agents mean having an expert on your side to get you noticed and to assist with negotiations. But they also mean adding one more gatekeeper to the mix. Can’t you get your book published without one? That depends on which publishing route you choose, which genre you write in, and which publisher you approach. Nonfiction writers have a slightly easier time getting a publisher without an agent than fiction writers; if you are writing fiction, you will almost certainly need an agent if you want to go through a publishing house.

While some university presses and small publishing houses are open to unagented manuscripts, they are becoming fewer and farther between. The so-called Big Five publishing houses—which include Hachette, HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, Macmillan, and Simon and Schuster—don’t accept anything without an agent. Each of these companies owns a dozen or more imprints that have their pick of books to pursue, and agents serve as a filter for the thousands of books that are submitted to them.

But what if you don’t want to work with an agent? You’re determined to find that small press that is willing to work with you as an individual. You don’t want to add the six months or a year that it can take to find an agent before you even reach a publisher, and you don’t know what the point of an agent is anyway. You are going to approach publishers directly. This is a viable option, and one that has worked well for many authors. But before you rule out agents entirely, you should know what signing with an agent means for you.

‘Generally speaking, an agented project will be picked up or rejected by most publishers within two to three weeks of submission,’ write Susan Rabiner and Alfred Fortunato, authors of Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction—and Get It Published.  That’s compared to six months for a response for unagented works. Agents get your book noticed, and they get personalized responses. This kind of attention can speed up the acquisitions process considerably. There are many other pros and cons as well, as shown in the following list.

You should know that agents:

Pros:
-Have established contacts within the industry
-Know best practices for preparing a proposal
-Are likely to get you a larger advance than you could get on your own
-Can negotiate terms of the contract that you may not entirely understand (e.g., foreign rights, subsidiary rights, royalty structure)
-Track your royalties and ensure you get paid
-Act as your advocate if problems arise between you and the publishing house

Cons:
-Are another layer of gatekeeping
-Can add six months to a year to the process
-Take 15 to 20 percent of your advance

Beyond the cons listed here, fear of rejection seems to be one of the biggest holdups for aspiring authors. For whatever reason, it is less scary for many authors to skip the agent and go straight to the source. The decision is yours to make, but I have always felt, what is the harm in testing the waters? Your ultimate goal is getting your high-quality, highly marketable book in front of readers, and an agent may be able to help.

Pinpoint the agents most likely to be interested in your work and see what happens. Maybe agents aren’t interested in what you have to offer. But you might be surprised. If agents respond to you, you can decide from there whether you want to pursue the professional relationship. If no one responds, then you have more information about the amount of work you need to do to self-publish or to find another route. And while you are doing that, you can continue writing and polishing your manuscript.

I must note, however, that it is false to think that any agent is better than no agent. There are predatory agents out there. Protect yourself by educating yourself and working only with people you trust. You should not sign with someone who wants money up front, whether he or she calls it a reading fee, an evaluation fee, or any other name. Reputable agents do not get paid until they sell your manuscript. The article “How to Find a (Real!) Literary Agent” by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America advises that good agents will list recent book placements on their website; are accessible by means other than just e-mail; and won’t try to sell you on other services. Membership in the Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR) , the trade group for US literary agents, is also a plus. AAR has a searchable database that you can use to determine if your prospective agent is a member.”

PerfectBound-cov1-600x900 Katherine Pickett is the owner of POP Editorial Services,  and the author of Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro from www.HopOnPublishing.com  Since 1999 she has edited more than 300 books in a wide range of topics and genres. She is an active member of the Editorial Freelancers Association and the St. Louis Publishers Association, and is president of the Montgomery County chapter of the Maryland Writers’ Association.

Want to discover more about Katherine Pickett and Perfect Bound? Visit her blog and follow her on twitter.

And you can purchase Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro on Amazon.

Thanks again to Katherine Pickett for her informative guest post. Make sure to check out last Monday’s post on writing from Katherine. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, Quotable Wednesdays, Saturday Owl posts, blogs from me, and more. Have a great day! – Vonnie

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The Enchanted Skean – Book I of The Chronicles of Lifthrasir, my Young Adult coming-of-age adventure novel filled with magic, miracles, and mystery, is finally in the hands of the printer. Hooray! Now, here’s Part I of the journey from a jumble of ideas to a published book:

The Enchanted Skean was begun in Feb. 2006, 1st draft completed in June 2006, novel signed with a reputable NY agent in Sept. 2006, 1st major revision 2007, 2nd major revision 2008, literary agency closed in 2009 without warning after doing little for me or my book. Sigh. Luckily, I’d continued to write short stories, two of which won Honorable Mentions in L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future contests.

So, in August 2009, I set aside The Enchanted Skean, and focused on writing short stories – 3 of which were published as ebooks by Echelon Press. Still focused on short fiction, I wrote, revised, and had multiple stories published in 2010, and I pulled a collection of fantasy tales together, titled the book The Greener Forest, and sent the manuscript to a new publisher. After revising the manuscript according the the editor’s suggestions and adding illustrations, the book was published in spring 2011 by Cold Moon Press.

The Greener Forest 300 dpi cover With the publication of The Greener Forest, I decided to pull out and dust off my Young Adult novel. Unwilling to put all my eggs in one basket, I also wrote and found publishers for short stories. For a year, I sent query letters off to agents and publishers alike looking for a home for The Enchanted Skean. I came close twice to finding a publisher, but at the last minute, they decided to go with someone else’s book. Still, I never lost faith in my writing or the quality of my YA fantasy novel.

In spring 2011, Mockingbird Lane Press responded to my query with a requested to see sample chapters and a synopsis. I’d been through this before, so with only the smallest pinch of hope, I sent off the requested materials. A few days later, I got a letter from Mockingbird Lane Press asking for the complete manuscript. Again, this wasn’t something new – several other publishers had requested the full manuscript only to say, “Sorry.”

Two weeks later, the acceptance letter arrived: “We want to publish The Enchanted Skean.” Whoot! My journey had finally come to an end. Wait a minute – not so fast. My journey from a few scribbled pages to a printed book had only just begun.

First lesson learned from my Novel’s Tale: Faith in the quality of your manuscript is one of the most important things a writer can have.

Stop by this weekend for another Reader’s & Writer’s Recipe, Monday for a guest author, and next week for Part II of my Novel’s Tale.

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Balticon 2011 was a wonderful experience. On Friday, the publisher of The Greener Forest, Cold Moon Press, had a publisher’s presentation where Editor Katie did a fabulous job: http://coldmoonpress.com Cold Moon Press had so many cupcakes, cookies, and other goodies prepared for attendees, that I took the extras to the Broad Universe Reading.

Broad Universe is an organization that supports women who write (and illustrate) science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Gail Z. Martin, D. Renee Bagby, Danielle Ackley McPhail, Roberta Rogow, Jean Marie Ward, Phoebe Wray & I each read an excerpt from our writing. It was a wonderful hour-long reading. For more information about BU: http://broaduniverse.org

On Saturday, I shared an early morning booksigning time with novelist Leona Wisoker, and invited her to read with me during my afternoon reading slot. (She kindly agreed, and shared a few pages of her 2nd novel, Guardians of the Desert). We followed friends, Katie Hartlove & Michelle D. Sonnier. Great fun & a nice audience. I also participated in an Artists & Publishers Small Press Round Table that was relaxed & informative. A group of us went to dinner afterwards, including Balticon regulars writers Grig “Punkie” Larson & Jhada “Rogue” Addams.

Sunday began early with a panel on heroes, a presentation by Dark Quest Books, and I had the opportunity to listen to a presentation by Robin L. Sullivan & the authors of Ridan Publishing. They’re quite an impressive group. Sunday was also the 2-hour Poetry Workshop. We made the attendees write, write, write – and invited the women in attendence to submit something to The Gunpowder Review http://gunpowderpenwomen.wordpress.com

On Monday, I managed to attend 2 more presentations that featured folks from Ridan Publishing. Robin was sick, but her authors did a great job. Look for me to apply some of the lessons I learned from them in the future. Also, I was the moderator for a panel on Cardboard Characters. And I got a few compliments on the maze I’d drawn for The BSFAN, the con’s program book.

Balticon was a fabulous place to network. It was friendly, there was an exchange of opportunities, and people were supportive. I got to meet fellow writers, readers & fans, and a few editors & publishers. I bought books by others, and folks bought a few of my books. And that’s what good networking is all about. Watch online for info on next year’s con chaired by Patti Kinlock: http://balticon.org

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