When I grow up I want to be Jenny Crusie.
She is one of those authors who keeps pushing the boundaries and many of her books are on my keeper shelf. But she is also an academic and I recently came across my print out of an excellent and challenging article she wrote on the process of choosing the best Literary Agent – starting with defining who YOU are as a writer, what you want and what your career plan is. And there are some very challenging questions here.
Of course every single person is different. I have met lovely wonderful writers through the RNA who would be horrified at the idea of book tours and media interviews and supermarket stocking their work. They love writing at their own pace. No pressure from hard business economics/deadlines etc – and this is brilliant and fine for them.
Other writers cannot wait to be up there in Tesco and Wallmart/Asda, and giving James Patterson and Dan Brown a good run for their money in the bestseller charts. And that is equally brilliant and fine.
Unless you know what you want up front how can you communicate that to an agent who you will be paying to help work with you on building your career and sell and promote your work to people and publishers who are going to invest in YOU for the long term?
And as Jenny says:
‘A good agent will look at your work and love it for what it is and foster your vision by making suggestions that enhance the story you need to tell.
A bad agent will look at your work and make suggestions that fit the trends of the time. The only way you’ll know the difference is if you know what your story is.
But knowing your story, yourself as writer, is not enough because once you sell a story, you take on a second career, this one in publishing. Writing and publishing are two entirely separate things, and you need to know who you are in both.’
As a newbie in this game, I think this is a crucial point which is not often discussed and well worth time considering. Once you sell a story, you DO take on a second – or third etc career in publishing/promotion/marketing.
Fascinating. Especially since this article was created before the ebook self publishing explosion where the author entrepreneur is now recognised as a valid option.