Publishing Agents

I have a a question, but first some background. I saw The Help last week, which is based on a book (that I didn’t read). I then read that the book was rejected by 60 literary agents before it was accepted and eventually published. Is that how publishing works nowadays? Is an author no longer rejected by publishing houses, but by agents?

This entry was posted in Books, Publishing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Publishing Agents

  1. H.E. Ellis says:

    Unfortunately that’s exactly how it works. Most publishing houses won’t even look at a manuscript unless it’s filtered through an agent. And most agents have loops of fire through which they expect authors to jump (I’m not faulting them, mind you. It’s their job and they need to weed out substandard writing). I’m such a control freak about my writing that when it came time to publish my novel I decided to self-publish instead of being asked to alter it in anyway. Odds are less likely that I’ll be successful on a traditionally published scale, but I don’t regret my decision to stick to my work.

    • teasandbooks says:

      Thanks for the information! I noticed in books that I read that every author thanks his/her agent profusely. In fact, the thanks are no less glowing than those usually apportioned to the editor. It makes me wonder if the agent is now doing some of the things that great editors used to do for their writers.

      • fhhakansson says:

        Yes, that is exactly right. To take an example of many: Catherine O’Flynn told me that after finally finding an agent she spent nearly a year editing it before the agent wanted to sent it to a publishers. 60 rejections seem quite steep though. I thought around 30 was normal before you gave up or someone picked it up. Oh well… It’s a tough industry.

  2. teasandbooks says:

    PS. Good luck on your writing & publishing endeavor!

    • teasandbooks says:

      Very tough industry indeed! Yet, haven’t we all read books where we asked ourselves, “how did this get published?”/”where was the editor in this?” Strange that we have both phenomena simultaneously.

      • fhhakansson says:

        Yes, I think about that all the time. I tend to believe such novels are mostly the result of the author knowing the right people. Having well established connections seems vital in the industry nowadays – unfortunately.

        • teasandbooks says:

          I don’t have any basis to either agree or disagree with your comment. (But I have a rant-on of a reply anyway.)

          What I feel, upon reading a badly written book, is a (slight & passing) sense of regret. Regret for having spent as much time as I did on the book. Regret that an interesting topic — I must’ve pick up the book because I thought the subject interesting — was not better served. Regret that a book that the author probably spent countless hours researching (I mostly read non-fiction), writing, editing . . . etc. did not, in the end, make for a good book. Regret that however much work an editor has put into it, it was not enough to shape it into a fine work. A bad book is really a shame.

  3. maisiep says:

    But isn’t this agent-publisher route going to change with the advent of digital publishing? And the opportunity for authors to self publish digitally? It will be an interesting development for writers offering them far more autonomy and i imagine will see publishing houses having to change how they operate to stay in the game.

    • fhhakansson says:

      Yes, it will and it has. The best example I can think of is Dmitry Glukhovsky – the author of Metro 2033.
      You might already have heard of him. He is a Russian author that published his novel, Metro 2033, on his blog. Not only was the book available for free but the fans of his novel could write their own fanfiction, set in the same world as metro 2033, and publish it on his homepage. Soon he had lots of novels written by a number of different people, set in his universe, available on his website. He received thousands of readers.
      Of course publishers/agents noticed and gave him a good contract and his novel was published, and became a best seller, and he made a lot of money on his “free” novel. Metro 2033 has even been turned into a video game and there are discussions of turning it into a movie. His idea of making it a dynamic universe where everyone could chip in was a good and unique one that made him stand out online. I think a clever idea like that is necessary if you want to get acknowledged and get lots of readers.

    • teasandbooks says:

      Yes, but as long as a traditionally published book can count on better distribution, better marketing, and the publishers’ imprint still acts as a guarantor of value in readers’ minds, won’t traditional publishers still hold enough allure for writers to want to jump through their hoops?

  4. Neeks says:

    I’ve heard so many horror stories that I’m not sure what to do when I get ready to publish. I just like to write, and to read. I get a little angry when I pick up a drama that turns out to be a thinly disguised bad romance, etc. When the dialogue is bad, or the characters are odd, too many details, all of these things will make me actually put the book down and not finish it. How do books like that make it into print?

    • teasandbooks says:

      According to John Scalzi, incompetent editors exist, and so publishing houses sometimes publish what he calls incompetent writing. However, such an arrangement is not sustainable as incompetent writing is likely to make dismal sales and thus make it difficult for its author to publish again.

I think I'm getting addicted to comments. Please feed the addict & leave a reply.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s