Saturday, April 03, 2010

Some Thinks, Some Links

My agent tells me to be patient, but I haven’t heard anything from him in weeks. We have a half dozen manuscripts out to various publishers, but nothing seems to be happening and I’m not feeling loved. Why does it take so long? What happens after requested and submitted manuscripts reach an editor’s desk? When should a writer become discouraged after a submission? Weeks? Months? Years? If I don’t’ hear back from my agent in a couple of weeks, does that mean there is no interest in my project?

The answer to these questions is if you haven’t heard anything, then editors are probably still reading, pondering, and having and others read and ponder whether or not to offer a contract. The acquisition process can be a long and arduous one for just about everyone, including the editors and agents involved in it.

One of my clients recently asked me some of the questions listed above, and rather than repeat what others have already blogged about, let me point you to a blog post authored by Nathan Bransford a couple of years ago. Titled HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO SELL A NOVEL, this post gets right to the heart of the matter.

On a different subject, have you often wondered why some blog posts seem like fingernails scraped over a chalkboard or like scabs dug from an old wound? These posts seem to hit home in ways that nothing else does. If, as a writer, you’ve experienced posts like these, maybe you should examine why they make you angry. Is it possible the post’s author has hit too close to the truth? This appears to happen on our blog quite frequently. Some might think we revel in the fact that we can make others angry; however, this is not the case. We like that when something does strike home, authors let us know in no uncertain terms that our message has struck hard. Yes, getting too close can irritate; however, instead of being angry, first try to analyze why the message bothers you before composing a stinging comment in response.

Another blogger who doesn’t pull any punches when answering very perplexing questions about the publishing process is The Rejecter. Especially read her March 15 and March 22 posts.

Underlying themes seen over and over again on all agency blogs echo unanimously that writers need to learn and re-learn everything possible about the industry in which they someday hope to find their books. Yes, everyone loads up on writing advice, and they should, but all writers and especially those who hope to prosper through the sale of the written word, should remain current with what’s going on in publishing.

One of the best ways to keep abreast of the profession is to read the many agency blogs, one of which is authored by Bookends, LLC. Another is by Jennifer Jackson from Donald Maass Literary, and there are many more. Check out the list of great blogs from industry professionals on the home page of our blog, as well as the other blogs you visit. Information is the key to success and prosperity in the 21st century, so avail yourself of this free information and you may find some healing elixir for that which irritates and frustrates.


Anonymous said...

FYI: Both links to Nathan Bransford blog entry have a period at the end that makes the link wrong.

Wylie Merrick Literary said...

Thanks Anonymous. The link is fixed.

DLM said...

Thanks for the link to a humorous, and insightful read at Nathan's blog!

Tracy said...

This blog was so alive when Scott Jensen was part of it and now it is almost dead without him. The series that Scott, Robert and Sharene had about ebooks and epublishing was fantastic, eye-opening, and striking. A friend sent me a link to the start of it, told me it was a must-read, and I must have re-read it seven times already. It should be encapsulated into its own series with a link to it at the top of this blog. Like my friend, I've sent links to it to others. It is sad that Robert and Sharene think what Scott was proposing was bad and aren't helping him test the idea. It is even sadder that the discussion didn't continue. There are so many topics it could have addressed. And I wonder where Scott is now with the book and his efforts to test his ideas with it. What caused the falling out between Scott and Robert (and Sharene?)? So many blogs dream about having such a lively discussion with so many people commenting while it is taking place. It seems odd more effort wasn't made to keep it going. The ending of it feels like this blog is a gold rush boom town after the gold has been mined out. A ghost town.

Wylie Merrick Literary said...


First of all, the no holds barred, three-way discussion about e-books and e-publishing was fun to be involved in. However, as with all things fun, there came a time when we had to get back to our main purpose, that of running a literary agency. There was also a second reason and that was the discussion had strayed far from the subject, that of print versus e-book publishing. Also, many of the comments received had shifted into areas over which neither side in the discussion had any control, since much of what was being discussed was about areas in publishing about which there was little or no data. Because of this, the whole discussion morphed into which fantasy do you most believe in: Robert’s, Sharene’s, or Scott’s, or a combination thereof? The discussion’s end came to a natural conclusion based on the known facts about e-publishing and print publishing at the time. Further discussion became mute until more data could be gathered. Publishing is still in flux, and so the industry and all its players are still watching and waiting.

Tracy said...

It is clear (to at least me) that you think the only "fantasy" was Scott's idea since his was the only new idea ever pushed forward in that series. It is also clear (now) that is why you're not helping him. Oh, and it was Scott that ended the series, not you guys. The way I read his final post in the series (and reading a bit between the lines) is that he eventually saw it being pointless to continue since you're so against his ideas. That's a shame. It would have been interesting to see updates about his progress, the obstacles he's encountered, how you guys helped and brainstormed with him to get around them, and such. Even if he failed, it would have been interesting to read about the journey. Your agency could have even risen about the pack by trying something so new and bold. Even if it was only with one author and even if it failed. Failed experiments that are given a real chance can be almost as informative as successful ones. And if Scott succeeded, all three of you could be viewed as the pioneers that the entire publishing and writing industries would be talking about and trying to understand and emulate. Is it too late to have a change of heart?

Scott Jensen said...


First, I rarely go back and read the comment section a second time after I read a blog post ... unless I've added a comment. If I don't comment, I don't get alerts to new comments. The only reason I know of yours here is a friend alerted me to it.

Second, I'm happy that you enjoyed the series of blog posts about that topic. I enjoyed it too.

Third, please don't get down on Robert as he was taking the Devil's Advocate position to my business idea. He repeatedly said he was in the series ... or at least did so in private to me. And for good reason. You cannot have a meaningful discussion if everyone is in agreement. "Ditto" does not make for lively debates.

Fourth, Robert is probably right and I am (my proposed business model is) probably wrong. I can say this since Robert's business model is currently what is being used by the publishing industry. It exists. It works. It makes a profit for all concerned. Mine is still theoretical. I will be testing it soon and will report back the results.

Fifth, I don't think I ever asked for any help from Robert and Sharene with the novel yet. Not publicly or privately. Or at least that is what my poor memory tells me. Instead, I'm going to test to business model myself. I'm a marketer by profession so such sales work isn't a problem for me. And if you more carefully read the post series, you will actually find that Robert has offered to at least look over the novel for possible representation if I fail with my proposed business model. I haven't failed yet so I haven't asked.

Sixth and last, the novel is currently being worked over by a VERY talented copyeditor. The copyeditor has meticulously gone through the novel and done a wonderful job of correcting grammar and raising questions about certain dialogue statements and exchanges. My novel is written in all-dialogue. Yes, I know many writing books say it is impossible to do so (one of them even encouraging writers to try to write in all-dialogue just to see how impossible it is), but I think I make it work and my copyeditor definitely does. He is a BIG fan of the novel. He has also made a great contribution to the novel in how a certain character in it should speak initially and then how her speech should evolve over the course of the novel. Starting out with perfect English and then becoming more and more informal (what we speak in real life). That took a lot of work and I'm forever indebted to him for the huge task that was, especially as it was one of the two main characters that runs through the entire novel.

Now my copyeditor actually agrees with Robert and is trying to convince me to get this novel published the traditional way. Like I previously said, he's really likes it. He thinks it could win both a Nebula and a Hugo (literary awards for science fiction) and develop a big loyal following given its all-dialogue style, its humorous collection of characters, and the unique universe it has created. However...

I think I will still try out my business model with this novel. I won't be damaging it by "shopping it around" since the ones I will be presenting it to for consideration are advertisers and not agents or publishers. [Correct me if I'm wrong, Robert.] If I cannot line up advertisers for it, that's it for the business model. In fact, I now believe if I cannot line up an online poker site as one of its advertisers, that alone will likely stop me from progressing any further with the attempt. It won't mean the business model is wrong, but possibly it is only wrong when attempted by an unpublished author. However...

Before I get to that test, I still have to get it out of copyediting. I have just sent the novel back with changes to the copyeditor and he's going through it another time. Hopefully, this will be the last time, but I'm in no rush and want it done right so if it takes longer, that's fine with me.


Tracy said...

I'm sorry for misinterpreting things. Sorry, Robert and Sharene. Thanks for the update, Scott. Good luck!