Published Book or Work by:
The Writer and The Agent
|5 May 2003
The Writer and the Agent/643
©2003 Timothy M. Leonard
Twenty minutes. 1200 seconds; quick clicks. That was all I had to make a pitch, to verbally describe my memoir map and the map was not the territory.
She was down from Seattle with her long brilliant red hair, black owl shaped professor glasses and quick literary mind. Her talk that evening evening would be on “Trends in publishing,” and now we were together in soft leather hotel lobby chairs.
She scanned my map and query letter.
“Do you know Phil Borges? she said, looking up. “He’s done photographic books. We represent him.”
“Yes,” I said. “I met him in Santa Fe when he was doing an exhibition of his images. I purchased his book and we had a pleasant chat.”
“He does beautiful work. His latest project involves South American indigenous cultures. You should research agents and publishers handling illustrated books for your memoir,” she said. “Our agency is not handling much spiritual or new age material at the moment.”
“I see,” I said. “While my book does contain universal stories of communities, stories and beliefs, I really focus on journalistic narrative.”
“Yes, I see that,” she said looking at my map.
“Being in Morocco on 9.11,” I said, “I have very timely stories here. I imagined, with accuracy and truth the emotional and psychological effect the attacks would have on people here.”
“You should get it out to well known magazine,” she said. “Try and sell your work before you sell your book. Agents always read magazines looking for new writers with a strong voice.”
“I have a question for you,” I said. “Four local women have read the book and I’ve incorporated their editorial comments into revisions. I’ve been in touch with a professional editor and she wants $800 for diagnostic read through. She charges $3000 for a complete edit. What do you think of this approach?”
“I’d stay away from $800 editors,” she said, “you’ve obviously done your research. Keep targeting agents with your journalistic slant. Look at small press publishers and trade paperbacks.”
“This is very helpful,” I said.
“Thanks. It’s a tough business right now. My agency handles 250 queries and submissions a week. I’d really focus on your narrative story and diminish the spiritual angle.”
“Good advice,” I said. “I have no fear about revising my work.”
“Good,” she said. “It’s a good idea to write essays and articles to get your name out there. Establish your credentials. The main thing is to have faith in yourself as a writer, revise and strive to educate and inform in your writing. Read Publisher’s Weekly. When you write an agent or publisher mention you saw their listing in Publisher’s Weekly. This gives you a good connection in the business.”
“That’s good to know,” I said, “thanks.”
“Your welcome,” she said. “Also, when you send out a query or proposal make a cross reference by saying, ‘my book is like - referring to a title and author’ and keep your query short, written a blurb on a book. You want the agent to ask for more.”
“I see,” I said. “what else?”
“Go ahead and send the first 30 pages to our office in Seattle and one of our readers will give it a look. If they like it they’ll send it upstairs. And, don’t send agents e-mails until they know you and your work. Also, you should get involved in non-traditional media outlets to promote your work. Try radio stations in your area. People who don’t own televisions listen to the radio. Keep seeing yourself as a working writer.”
“Here comes the hook,” said the scheduling organizer’s voice. “It’s time for the next writer.”
“It was nice meeting you,” I said as we shook hands. “You’ve been very helpful.”
“I enjoyed our talk,” she said. “I wish you success placing your book.”
, Language and Literature
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