Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Waiting for Godot

Here's a pic of grandson Tobiah with my mom and Stepdad Dave, who is helping Tobiah open his birthday presents. A little catch-up here, since I posted a pic of granddaughter Aerro last week.

So, I was at a bit of a loss on what to write about this morning. It's kind of that tip-of-the-tongue feeling, like I had a topic in mind, but can't quite recall what it was. Tomorrow is all about Feeding the Vampire's book birthday. But I had *thought* I had a plan for today.

Then I remembered.

Oh yeah, I totally thought I'd talk about my agent and my new book deal today.

But you know what? She promised to get back to me by Monday (yesterday) and she hasn't. Everyone keeps telling me to give her more time, but it's been officially one week now. I'm not necessarily in a hurry. Still, I don't see much reason to sit on my hands any longer. Publishing is absolutely about patience panties and waiting for people to get back to you. When the ball is in my court, however, I don't see much reason to wait.

It was kind of amazing, really, how people popped out of the woodwork with advice when I announced that I had a contract offer. Everyone was full of the advice to contact every agent I've ever kibbitzed with and let them know I have an offer on the table. This is the moment, they urge me, to hook an agent.

I feel vaguely like the girl who's gotten pregnant and is looking to bag her man with it.

The thing is, like that knocked-up girl, I'm feeling a bit like, if they didn't want me for myself and my work before, then I'm not sure I want them just because I've got a bun in the oven. Frankly, I'm not convinced I want an agent at all. Kristine Rusch, who posts the very insightful Rusch Reports on the publishing business from the writer's point of view, recently laid out really good reasons why unagented writers not sign with agents. (The post contains a fascinating history of how literary agents came to be in the first place - well worth reading.)

Her post came at just the right time for me, because she echoed what I've been thinking, from all the reading I do about the huge changes in publishing.

Now, I'm not so concerned about the agency clause. The gal I've been talking to has a boutique agency, so I imagine she doesn't have anything really bearish like that. But, more and more, I'm wondering what agents can do for writers that we can't do for ourselves. A bunch of agencies are now announcing that they're assisting their authors with self-publishing, or even developing epublishing branches. They're clearly doing this because their traditional revenue streams are drying up. Indeed, several of my friends who have long-standing relationships with agents are not seeing new sales to publishers right now. Except maybe in Young Adult.

It's a difficult time for agents. I totally get that.

So, right now I'm not convinced having an agent would really make a huge difference for me.

I'm still the awkward girl at the prom. My work is still the kind that the big publishers frown at, with worry on their faces, unable to clearly envision where they'd put me on the bookshelf. I truly believe the key for me lies in building readership. (Thank you, all you lovely readers who read and say nice things to me!) People out there do want to read my books, but no one will know it until I have some numbers.

I'm at peace with that.

What I'm not at peace with is waiting. I don't want to be like Vladimir and Estragon, eternally distracting myself while I wait for something I might not even recognize when it arrives.

No point in reaching for that brass ring if they're dismantling the Carousel and converting it into the Zooming Horses Racetrack.

(Wouldn't that be a cool ride?)

So: no announcement today. See? Here you are, waiting along with me. I may yet sign with this agent or another, on a future project.

But, on this, I'm ready to move forward.

Let's do this thing!


  1. I think every author has to figure out the arrangement that best suits her (or him, as the case may be).

    Going from my own experience, I was awfully glad I had an agent to sift through the fine print in the publishing contracts, adding and subtracting clauses, and generally working things out to my benefit. Michelle definitely earned her fifteen percent with her negotiating skills.

  2. I bet, Linda! I have a lot of admiration for Michelle's savvy and promotion skills!

  3. ~contemplates Zooming Horses Racetrack~

    ~wonders about carrots on a stick~

  4. I was thinking about this a few days ago when planning out next year. You know, promote this, polish and submit this...hey, maybe I should look for an agent for this... *sigh* I don't know. I'd like to see my books in a brick and mortar store. I wouldn't mind having someone to help me plan my career or at least organize it for me. ; ) Point me in the 'right' direction. But can't I do that with a little research?

    It's a changing world out there.

  5. I so agree, Shawna - but then I wonder if we can really have those things?


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