Tuesday, September 27, 2011

To Be or Not To Be Agented

A conversation in twitter land erupted last week has left me jilted. It was regarding agent hood or lack thereof. I should warn you this isn’t one of my light hearted give you a chuckle sort of posts (though my cuteness still remains).
For all of you who are new (or legendary followers – sounds better than old), if you know me, you know I’m an avid supporter of any published author (and yes, those who aren’t as well). It doesn’t matter if you chose self-publishing, small publishers house, or went with the big six. Each method is designed solely for you to decide what the best route is.

What I had a problem with is when someone told me I was going the wrong route. If you’re unaware, I’m currently in the querying process for an agent. It isn’t an easy road and for those of you who aren’t patient… wait… that’s hilarious, as writers it seems none of us are patient… however you get my drift. It’s a long and tedious process.

To be told what I’m doing is silly because agents are a scam was very frustrating. Here are these business men and woman, working hard for us. They’re putting their neck out on the line each time they scoop up a first time author (or seasoned). They take risks just like we do.

I respect the agent world. I respect those who self-publish. I respect the small houses that give everyone a dream. I would never demean someone’s hard work just because they don’t believe in the process.

Here’s what I think. No matter what path you choose make sure it’s right for you. Don’t let anyone knock your dream down, no matter how big. If you don’t dream big, no one else will do it for you. I say go with your gut instincts, and if you fall pick yourself back up. No one is down and out in this world.

And for those who disagree with someone else’s route, don’t be the dream crusher. They worked hard; it’s not your place to say it was for nothing.

Phew. Glad I got that off my chest. *climbs off soap box* Okay peeps, it’s your turn.

What are your views on those who bully you into their agenda? Do you stand up for yourself and for your industry?

66 comments:

Laura Pauling said...

I think we all have to make our own decisions and go with it. And I wish for a world where all the different pubishing routes could be happy for each other and it not be so either/or.

Lindsay N. Currie said...

Good post Jen and I agree with you 100% While everyone has a right to choose the path that's best for them, many assume they also have the right to pick the right path for others. Not cool.

Juliette Sobanet said...

Well said, Jen. Great post. Each path has its advantages and disadvantages, and it is up to the writer to decide which path is best for him/her. It is not up to anyone else to tell us what to do. Good for you for sticking to your guns:)

Pippa Jay said...

Everyone has the right to their own choice, and not to be ridiculed for it. If someone tried that on my own blog, I'd tell them where to go. Otherwise I ignore them. I chose my route for my own reasons and I consider them good ones. My first book is coming out next year with a small publisher in the US. There are few agents in the UK who represent my chosen genre, and although some gave me encouraging feedback none chose to take me on. I don't have any ambition to be with the big six and I still consider self-publishing as an option in the future. Kudos to anyone who achieves their dream by whatever route they chose, and shame on those who ridicule anyone who doesn't slavishly follow their own narrow-minded path. :-/

Christina Lee said...

Yeah, *sigh*, I had a post like this all planned and never hit publish. I likened it to the moms who beat each other up for various things (breast-feeding, working) even though they are still on the same side and want to be happy, ya know? People should just...chill. xo

Anne Gallagher said...

Go get'em Jen. If we don't stand up for ourselves and our dreams we'll never know if we could have truly made it.

Agents aren't the right path for everyone, but for some they are. You do what's best for you.

Anna Banks said...

You've tussled with tunnel-visioned morons. There are many routes to publication and you don't have to pick just one. Just because you self-publish now doesn't mean you can't still pursue traditional publishing. Conversely, many agented, traditionally published authors are self-pubbing their backlists, or books that don't quite meet the formulaic genre traditional houses seek. It's not the path to success that's narrow; it's the minds of the people who think that.

Connie Keller said...

Given the current state of publishing how can anyone even think of saying "you should/shouldn't do this or that?" We all make our decisions, and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. What we should be doing is encouraging one another because no matter which road you take, it's hard and frustrating.

salarsenッ said...

Love this topic, Jen! I, too, respect the publishing process and believe there is an avenue for each writer. He/she just needs to find what's right for them. But there's always going to be someone out there with an opinion different than yours. I agree - go with your gut. It might take you a while to achieve your goal, but when you do, you will know you've done it 'True To Yourself.' (I linked to you in my post, today.)

Em-Musing said...

All you get from sour grapes...is whine, whine, whine. Good for you for stomping on the naysayers.

Matthew MacNish said...

There are two types of people in this world. Those who lift themselves up by raising up those who are around them, and those who think they lift themselves up by tearing others down.

I'll let you decide which type is worth knowing.

heatherthurmeier said...

I definitely agree that everyone has their own path to walk. It's hard for writers not to compare ourselves to other writers since we surround ourselves with them for support. The trick is not to fall into the trap of trying to do what others are doing instead of doing what's right for us. And I don't think a writer has to just choose one path and stick to it either. I currently have two books with a small pub, an agent shopping a novel to the big guys and I'm working on self-pubbing my first book soon. But that's what's right for me at this point in my career and it might not be right for someone else. Great topic!

Anna said...

Christina, I made the same comparison in my head as well. We're all on the same team, and we should work to encourage each other, not tear each other down.

Jen Daiker said...

I'm loving the passion in these comments!! I think there are some great points made. We really are all fighting the same fight! Support each other no matter what, and those who aren't supportive are ones that will eventually fizzle out.

Stay strong. Trust yourself. Rely on others when in need of a pick me up!

Ed said...

My wife is a writer. Well, elementary teacher turned stay-at-home mom turned writer.

Now, if we could just work on the published part.

Deana said...

My take is they're just jealous you have the patience--as much as us writers can--to go through the tedious process.
I think you're right, that no one way is the right way. It is what feels right to the individual. I think the people that are okay with their way are also ok with others going the route they choose.
It is those that aren't okay with it that like to stick their chest out and try to act tough. Same old bully agenda, trying to compensate where they feel they lack.
You keep doing what your doing Jen! Dream big. It is your dream after all:)

Ellen Brickley said...

I don't think anyone has the right to be nasty about someone else's decision.

Simple as.

And if someone is, I think it often stems either from insecurity or an unhealthy need to be right. I feel for bad for judgmental people, but I don't like being around them.

Johanna Garth said...

I think you'll find in all walks of life there are those who feel like their decisions are best (breast-feed vs bottle feed, agent vs no agent). The point is you know what is best for you, so follow that path. The true friends will support you and the rest...well, eventually they'll discover other people get tired of having opinions shoved down their throats.

Shannon said...

I've noticed this attitude in all areas of my life. Just last weekend, I was talking about my exercise routine and the excellent results I'm seeing and a friend felt it necessary to "correct" me and insist I try her routine. I think it's just human nature.

Be who you are and do what feels right in your gut. Anyone who thinks it's a waste of time can pound sand. <3

Carrie said...

It's a bummer that this happened to you. I think as writers it is so important to support each other. I think each writer has to pursue the right path for their book whether it is agent, big 6, indie or self publishing.
Don't give up. You are going to find that agent.

Amy Saia said...

Good post, I agree with you completely. Very well said Jen!

Sarah Pearson said...

Good post. You know that the same person tomorrow will be telling you that your child is at the wrong school, you're wearing your hair wrong,you should be waxing, not shaving....

I wish these people would realise that whenever they type 'you should...' what they actually mean is 'I do...'. Learn the language people!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Here's my take on it. If the writer doesn't want to have an agent, that's his choice. That's just one less query in the agent's slushpile. One less query before the agent gets to mine. :D

Angela Felsted said...

That was mean. I can't believe the nerve of whoever said that to you. But then, there are always "experts" who think they no better. All you can really do is trust your instincts.

Kathryn Elliott said...

Grandma Jane sounding off in my head: "If you can't say something nice..." Great post, Jen! Best of luck in Q-Hell!

Charity Bradford said...

Great post Jen, I just wanted to chime in and say...

AMEN!

REINHARDT! said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly. No matter what I believe, it isn't right to browbeat someone else into believing it. Not only will bullying not work, but it blocks real conversation.

We're all savvy enough to go out and research the pluses and minuses of an agented publishing experience. Once armed, we can go and make our own decisions.

You already know which way you're going to go. So do it. If you change your mind, you'll do it on your terms. I wish you the best luck any way you choose!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Well. Said. Jen! I couldn't agree more. We all have our own path to follow (or jungle to cut out way through) and there is no wrong path as long as you chose it. Our journeys to publishing are as individual as our stories. The most important thing we can do for each other is BE SUPPORTIVE of individual dreams.

Nicole Zoltack said...

Great post. I hate it when people tell you you have to do these this way or that way. What works for them won't necessarily work for me.

Just thought of a great idea for a MG story about bullying. Aack, too many stories to write!

Anyhow, there are some agents who are scammers, but as long as you do your research, it's very easy to find the legit ones. And a great agent is worth a lot more than their 15%.

Talli Roland said...

Very well said! Whatever each of choose to day, it's a decision we make based on our own circumstances and experiences. No-one has the right to tell you what's good and what's bad.

Carolyn V said...

I think there is room for everyone. I'm in a crit group with two agented authors and one e-published one. We all want different routes (I'm more of a traditional agent girl), but they area all good.

Alexandra Shostak said...

I just had this discussion with THREE different people: one person who just had a book out with Greenwillow, someone who has an agent and is ready to go on submission, and someone who's with a small pub and absolutely loving the experience. It really comes down to learning about the market, the options, and what you can and can't do for yourself. I think it's all very personal--I can't imagine why someone would tell you in such a definitive manner that you're going about it the wrong way. It really is so different for everyone.

Tonya Kuper said...

Awesome post! Couldn't have said it better myself!

I'm in the query trenches right now, as well, and I feel that is the place for me.

I follow the golden rule: Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you. I try to follow that to the best of my ability, even in this crazy-ass writing/publishing industry!

Thanks, Jen!

DL Hammons said...

I'm pretty stubborn...and un-bullyable. I listen to everybody's opinion, because they are just that...opinions, and then make up my own mind. Once my mind is made up, I refuse to engage with anybody trying to persuade me to do otherwise.

Great post!

Roxy said...

Your cuteness definitely remained throughout this post, and I agree, no one needs a dream-crusher. They're fragile enough as it is.

Pauline Barclay said...

Fab post, Jen and like you I agree, everyone needs to do what makes them happy and comfortable. I'm a believer that if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. We are here but once, let us make it as good as it can be. x

Mary Strand said...

Great post, Jen. Totally agree. A good friend once said that the only people who criticize your decisions are those who are insecure about their own decisions. I've found over time that she was absolutely dead on.

Good luck finding an agent! My own search took forever ... but ended happily. :-)

Heather said...

Wow, that's terrible that someone would think all agents are a scam. Of course there are bad agents out there who are, but they aren't the norm. There is no one 'right' road. We all have to travel our own road, the destination and the journey are the important part, not how we get there. Good for you for standing up for yourself!

Angela Brown said...

Jen, that was perfect. With so many options, it isn't about one route being THE better route. It is about the best route for YOU. Some fing the agented route works best and others prefer self-publishing. Demeaning either route makes no sense to me.

Good luck in your search for an agent and I hope you find the best agent for you. :-)

Hannah Kincade said...

Wow, really? Someone said that?? That's kinda nuts. I agree. Do what's best for you.

Carrie Butler said...

Well said, Jen! To each his (or her) own. I think it's really important to respect the industry at all levels. A little positivity goes a long way. :)

J. A. Bennett said...

I agree with everything you said, agents may not be best for everyone, but it doesn't mean they aren't good for some :)

Nancy Thompson said...

I agree with you, Jen. I, too, am trying to go the agent route. I think having an agent who believes in me and my story validates me as a writer, as will being traditionally published.

I have certain views of the self-pub industry, but, like in all things, I'd never force my opinion down someone's throat. That's just wrong.

Stephanie said...

SO SO AGREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nothing makes me more angry than someone telling me what I'm doing is wrong. I'm doing what I feel best FOR ME....they are free to do what's best for them. And this applies to everything in life- publishing, parenthood, marriage, etc....

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm with a small publisher, no agent. Never wanted one. I knew myself well enough to know that it would be a long process and I'd eventually lose interest. I'm happy with my decision. I know there are those who pass up my book because I'm not with a big publisher. But it's already more than I ever imagined. I chose the right path for me.

Sara Bulla said...

Jen,

I skipped over to your blog so that I could post a thank you for a comment on my post this morning. I had no idea that author wrote her book in the mini-van...I'll check her out! And as for your post...I love it and I completely agree. There are a lot of roads that lead to our dream. I don't think everyone's route looks the same, ya know? Thanks for sharing!

Sara

A.J. Mullarky said...

How annoying. It's different for everyone!!

Misha said...

Absolutely. I can't see why one way should be regarded as better than another. It all depends on our goals and personalities.

We're all diverse, why can't our publishing methods be?

CNHolmberg said...

I know people who are so consumed with indie publishing that they tear down everything else. Drives me nuts.

Good luck finding an agent!

Valerie Geary said...

Amen. We are responsible for our own lives and the course of our futures. Make the decisions that work best for you and respect that other people who do it differently have good reason.

elizabethreinhardt said...

I am recently self-published, and I plan to continue my search for an agent for other books. I sent the book I published to over 100 agents, had excellent feedback, but never had an offer. I finally realized I had exhausted my options at this point with traditional publishing. I chose self publishing and am very happy! I would also be very happy if I managed to secure an agent in the future. Doubting the help and validity of an agent is just ridiculous. Whether or not you want one on your journey, there's nothing scammy about them! Great post, and great message!

Laura said...

very well said... - feel free to have an opinion guys, but don't ram it down people's throats... your dream and your direction are unique and tailored just for you
Lxxx

Jennifer Hillier said...

I'm a big believer that every author must choose his/her own path. It's a personal decision.

That being said, I wanted an agent. And I have one. And I don't regret that decision. It was the right one for me.

"Don't be the dream crusher." Amen to that! Might I also add, "Don't be a jerk." And whoever told you that you were being silly for wanting an agent was a jerk.

Rachel Pudelek said...

Look at all these comments! You've picked a hot button to press, and I think that's awesome!

There are different paths to publication because there are different types of people. Choosing to walk down one path doesn't make the other paths wrong or bad.

I will say that it makes me sad to see a writer give up on their dream of a preferred publishing route because other writers pressure them into another route.

Jemi Fraser said...

Yikes! I can't believe anyone would say that! I agree with you completely. I'm hoping to get to the querying stage at some point (hopefully before the next century) & I would expect my friends to support me. Just as I would hope they would support me if I self published. It's such a personal decision. I would have thought most people got that.

Caitlin said...

It sounds like someone else was trying to validate to themselves that what they're doing is right by trying to make you question what you're doing.

There's no right or wrong way. Authors are published through all different venues and mediums.

Apples and bananas, you know?

Kristin Rae said...

Blast those dream-crushers! Keep on keepin' on! You're doing fab and will one day live out your dream, I have no doubt :)

The East Coaster said...

Fact: Haters Hate. Keep on doing what you need to do, to get where you want to be. Don't worry about other folks.

Holla!

Abby said...

Good on ya Jen. No matter what way someone chooses to go, they shouldn't have people talking crap to them about it. We all need to do what is best for us, and that might be different than what is best for someone else. This is great! I'm so glad you shared.

alexia said...

Amen! Some people need to keep their mouths shut. Just because something isn't right (or didn't work) for them, doesn't mean they need to condemn the whole lot...

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Jen -- Bully is right!! And there are a terrible lot of them out there, ready to tell you that their point of view is the only right one. Every person in every career field (not just writing) needs to choose their own path.

Now, if you want to know my own experiences -- agented and unagented -- I'll be happy to share them with you privately. But even then, I'd tell you to make your own decision, because your experience might be nothing like mine.

Donna K. Weaver said...

I agree with you. To tell someone else what they MUST do or that they're stupid for choosing a certain path is arrogant and presumptuous.

Donna Hole said...

"Here’s what I think. No matter what path you choose make sure it’s right for you. Don’t let anyone knock your dream down, no matter how big. If you don’t dream big, no one else will do it for you. I say go with your gut instincts, and if you fall pick yourself back up. No one is down and out in this world."

That says it all for me. No right or wrong path, just choices and outcomes. IMO, the author is the one that ultimately makes whatever venue to publication they choose work for them.

........dhole

Amy Richardson said...

As in all things to do with writing, follow your heart. If you don't, you are doing the wrong thing. Best of luck to you!

LTM said...

First, I like the fact that I'm legendary... :D Second, why are some people such jacka**es? Seriously.

Scroll up and read Matt's comment. I told him to say that. Also, girl! You just hang in there. You've got tons of support and what you put out will come back to you 100x~ <3 ((hugs))

Meredith said...

Great post, Jen. I also agree that no one should judge or step on someone else's dream or someone else's chosen journey to make that dream come true. I have faith in you Jen - your dream will come true and you won't need to compromise. Keep on keeping on girl.