Thursday, February 5, 2009

I'm Not a Literary Agent

You know this. (Well, most of you do. I have received the odd request for submission guidelines for my agency.)

Something else you know: I wish you all great success.

And if you didn't already know that, you know it now.

It's why I wrote AGENT: DEMYSTIFIED.

Well, okay. I also wrote it because I am a WRITER. That's what writers do. We write.

You've posted a bunch of detail-oriented questions concerning submissions for next week's Secret Agent contest. I love that you care; love that you're paying attention to my guidelines; love that you're not afraid to ask.

But it brings to mind the distinct possibility that some of you -- no one in particular, mind you -- obsess about the small stuff when it comes to querying agents.

Heck, some of you may not even have begun querying yet, and you're just preparing to sweat the small stuff.

People. Don't sweat the small stuff. There's enough "big stuff" in life to make us sweat.

Write well. Follow guidelines. Be professional. Write well. Oh, and write well.

But don't panic about this, that, and the proverbial other thing.

Know what else? Buy a copy of my E-BOOK. (Yes, it's a shameless plug. It's also a little "writerly tool" that I strongly stand behind. I've gotten some positive feedback from folks who've read it that warms me to my toes.)

But aside from that, and seriously: An agent is not going to toss out your query letter because you've got two spaces in between your sentences instead of one. (People actually argue about this.) Your opening chapter will not be scorned because your tab was set at 6 characters instead of 5.

Small stuff. Stuff to be filed under "Do Not Think About This."


Write well. Be tenacious. Be gracious.

And thanks for reading this blog. Even on a really bad, life-sucks-and-I'm-out-of-coffee sort of day, I feel like I've contributed something to the community of which I so dearly love being a part.

Y'all rock.


  1. but...but...but...

    OK. You're probably write. I mean right.


  2. You crack me up, Authoress. Thanks for your valuable down-to-earth advice, as always!

  3. Dear Authoress,

    I'm a little fuzzy on how e-books work, and now with the kindle and sony reader making waves, I think it's important to really understand this. I'm sure there are others out there who feel the same way.

    Here are my questions:

    1)how is selling your own ebook on a personal website, different from say, a self-published book (ie: iuniverse or lulu)which can be sold as an e book on Amazon or Barns and Noble? I guess the question is, is one more advantageous than the other?

    2)If I buy your book, (or any e-book off a personal website) can I read it on a kindle or sony reader? Or only on my computer?

    3)If I download your book or other e-book is it protected from piracy? ie: could I download your book and then forward it to all my friends?

    Thanks for your help on this. I'm interested in any other questions other readers may have about this topic.

  4. Anon:

    1. The e-books created through either vanity or legitimate POD publishers differ in 2 ways:

    A: They have an ISBN number (or the equivalent thereof).

    B: The POD publisher takes a (big) cut from each sale

    There is no advantage, in my opinion, on having an ISBN for your e-book. Unless you are going the huge distribution/audience thing, selling your own e-book for a niche audience makes more sense.

    2. PDF files are completely compatible with the Sony Reader. However, I'm pretty sure Kindle is proprietary (someone correct me if I'm wrong).

    3. E-books are not any more or less protected than regular paper books. The PDF file is protected so that the buyer/reader cannot modify the text or print the document. That's about as far as it goes. But then, when you buy a real book from a bookstore, nothing stops you from passing the book along to your friend -- or friends -- when you've finished reading it, right?

    Of course e-books are copyrighted, so they are protected under the same copyright laws as regular books. And an author whose e-book has been pirated/plagiarized can pursue litigation in the same manner.

    Hope that helps!

  5. I'm a fan of Authoress' Agent: Demystified. I bought it hot off the virtual press, and I've never regretted the purchase. It's chock-full of helpful tips, and it's blessed with her sense of humor.

    (No that was not a paid endorsement. An enthusiastic endorsement, but not a paid one. :-D )

    With that happy bit out of the way, may I add a rant? (Why do I ask? I'm going to do it anyway. :-D )

    Anyone who writes for a living or aspires to write for a living needs to be aware that piracy and plagiarism are epidemic in the digital world. Those two issues contribute in major ways to the alleged evidence of "collapse" in the publishing industry right now. They are shameful, hurtful, pernicious habits, although I suspect digital piracy is a foreseeable side effect of unavoidable shifts in the communications paradigm (Web, mobile, etc.).

    I hope writers and other artists who find themselves tempted to "share" digital content without permission will take a moment to consider how that seemingly harmless act affects the owner of the content -- a fellow member of the artistic community. One instance of sharing may never be noticed, but multiply that by hundreds or thousands, and the whole thing escalates exponentially.

    That said, I'm sure none of us around here ever would do anything that would take the food out of a fellow starving artist's mouth. :-)

  6. Thanks for the kudos, disorderly. :)

    (No, honest, I really DIDN'T pay her.)

    And thanks for your words on piracy/plagiarism. 'Tis the scourge of the writing world, both literature and song.

  7. Thanks for your words of wisdom, Authoress.

    *makes new list of things to obsess over* ;)

  8. I support what authoress is saying. An eBook is a highly effective way to write about a niche topic.

    Perhaps authoress will be asked to transfer the knowledge from her eBook to a "real book" one day; however, most eBook authors understand that it would be harder to get a publisher's interest in a niche.

    Publishers need to sell books in large quantities to cover their costs. eBook authors have virtually no overhead and yet many have sold thousands of copies over the years!


    eBooks offer value to their readers. I read authoress's eBook and think it is a must read for anyone who is trying to get an agent!


  9. Thanks Authoress for addresses my questions re: e-books. Very helpful.

    Anon 12:52

  10. I loved your e-book, Authoress. I agree this book is a must and a great read. And you don't even have to wait for it in the post or drive to the bookstore. It's instant pleasure which is fantastic. It's handy to have this great e-book, 'Agent: Demistified' by Authoress, on my computer and refer to it when I need too.

    However, if I want to buy a novel or children's book, (which I buy many) I go to my local book shop and buy the hard copy. It's great to have the choice.

    Thanks heaps, Authoress.

  11. I love your book! It has already helped immensely. Thanks for such a great blog, Authoress!

    I love your quote not to sweat the small stuff. So, so, sooo true.

  12. Thank you for this little pick-me-up. I just received a rejection from an agent who had requested my full manuscript and I, of course, had placed too much hope in that request. So now I'm back to another round of queries. Rejection is so deflating.