Tag s | Agents

Unreliable Statistics

Facts can lie…depending on how that are presented or understood. Today I’ll keep this blog post focused on writers choosing a literary agent, based on one question.

When choosing a literary agent, authors need to make assessments. Some authors ask agents questions such as, “How many deals did you make last year?” or other questions requiring a response involving some sort of number.

Unfortunately for both writers and agents, even the best numbers don’t tell the whole story. For example, Agent A might have made 10 deals last month, whereas Agent B made one deal. So Agent A is more successful than Agent B, right?

But what if I told you that Agent A made ten deals for $10,000 each, while Agent B’s deal was for a $100,000 advance?

Now which agent is more successful?

If you are thinking, “I want to go with Agent B because his deals bring in more money,” that can be a valid response. But as a writer, are you in the league of an author who can demand a $100,000 advance? Authors at this point have usually worked extremely hard to gain this level of advance. If you are a newbie, this probably won’t happen for you, at least not right away. Perhaps you would be better off with the first agent making smaller deals.

Then again, the statistics might flip the next month, with Agent A making the bigger deal and Agent B achieving smaller deals. So now who’s the better agent?

And consider that, based on these simple facts alone, the writer doesn’t know the nuances of the deals. How many books were sold under each contract, for example? What if the $100,000 contract obligates the author to write ten books, while the $10,000 contracts obligate the author for one book each? (I don’t know of any author writing ten books for $10,000 each under one contract – this is just to keep the math simple.)

Please know that an agent cannot reveal contract details to other authors. Some publishers include confidentiality clauses in their contracts. Further, I advise my authors not to share their contract details. Those are too personal. Think about it: most Americans wouldn’t ask a doctor or dentist, “How much money do you make in a year?” So you will never know the nuances of other authors’ publishing contracts.

All this to say, don’t fall into the trap of using alluring and impressive statistics to make a crucial decision. They seldom, if ever, tell the whole story.

Your turn:

How valuable do you think statistics are when you make a decision?

What are some questions you would ask an agent?

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We Care, But We Must Choose

If you go through my trash, you might think I’m the world’s worst person. Why? Because my discarded mail might lead a casual observer to think that I don’t care about: The paralyzed. The blind. Amputees. Orphans. Israelites. Health needs overseas. Impoverished people living overseas. People suffering with: Lupus Muscular …

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Writers Learn to Wait

Ours is a process industry. Good publishing takes time. Unfortunately time is another word for “waiting.” No one really likes to wait for anything. Our instant society (everything from Twitter to a drive-thru burger) is training us to want things to happen faster. Awhile ago I wrote about how long it takes to get published which gave an honest appraisal of the time involved. Below are some of the things for which a writer must learn to wait.

Waiting for the Agent

We try our best to reply to submissions within 6-8 weeks and are relatively good about that. But if your project passes the first review stage and we are now reviewing your entire manuscript remember that reading a full manuscript is much more demanding than reading a few short proposals.

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An Author’s Journey

I wanted our agency client Scott Douglas LaCounte to guest-blog today because of the anniversary it represents (see below) and how God worked through the publishing process and journey to encourage a writer and his family.  Scott is quite modest. He is the head librarian for the Southern California Institute …

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The Best Time to Submit to an Agent

Thanks to Katie Powner for her question on my May 25, 2016 blog, which sparked this blog. There have been many changes in publishing over the last few years. In fact, it seems we just get used to some element of publishing, and wham! It’s turned on its head. But …

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Why I Don’t Critique Your Work

A fantastic blog post from Ramona Richards reminded me why I, as a literary agent, don’t offer critiques on rejected proposals. Believe me, as someone who used to write books, I understand the disappointment of the unhelpful rejection letter. So much that I blogged about it (click to read it). …

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I Hate Rejecting Great Books!

If you, as an author, feel beaten down by several rejections, perhaps you have this image of an agent reading your submission: (Agent sits down at computer, armed with a steaming cup of Uber Expensive Coffee.) “It is now time to go through my submissions!” (Agent rolls up sleeves and …

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