Jenny Crusie and Literary Agents


When I grow up I want to be Jenny Crusie.

Donna Alward recently linked to an essay by Jenny Crusie on the life of a professional writer, but I have been drawn back to 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.

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.


On other matters, over the last week have caught up with the new Star Trek movie. which is excellent IMHO, and InkHeart, which has been out for a while but I did enjoy it.  All food for the girls in the basement LOL.

2 thoughts on “Jenny Crusie and Literary Agents

  1. Totally agree with you Kate re agents. I am still on a learning curve of course.
    I caught Inkheart on Movies on Demand on TV – very useful.
    I recommend Star Trek at the movies – this is a film that needs a huge screen. The soundtrack is rather loud.
    Yes – the poppy pic is one of mine – the Ionian islands had spring rain and the wild flowers were lovely in the meadows, plus the bees and butterflies/cicadas. Did not last long when the temp rose second week to 34 degrees. There are lots of ruined villages in Kefallinia because of a huge earthquake in the 1950s so much farmland has turned back to wild meadow. 🙂

  2. I think also as a writer you can be too close to your work to analyse it properly. There’s a certain kind of book I’d dearly love to write but it’s still stuck in my head – possibly because it doesn’t work with my voice, and subconsciously I know this.

    A good agent will also tell you where you strengths lie and how to maximise those and minimise your not-so-strong bits. (And a good agent will also know how to tell you this without destroying your confidence, and make positive suggestions that you can work on.)

    BTW, re Inkheart – I enjoyed the film very much, but my daughter has read the book and says it’s even better. (She’s offered to lend it to me. Mainly because she’s planning to raid my shelves…)

    Love the poppy pic – one of yours?

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