Mark Terry

Friday, February 19, 2010

Taking Control

February 19, 2010
I've been slowly reading Dean Wesley Smith's posts on Killing The Sacred Cows of Publishing. I don't necessarily agree with everything he says, but I think it's fairly interesting. Also, sometimes you have to think about the things he says and how they might apply to you.

For instance, Dean, who's published a ton of books, apparently does his own book marketing, although he gets an agent and/or literary attorney to negotiate contracts.

I'm sure I could write for hundreds of pages about my often ambivalent thoughts about that, but instead, I'll tell you what I did today.

I tracked down the contact information for a couple of editors and sent them queries regarding a novel I wrote called Hot Money.

Why didn't I have my agent do this?

That's complicated. She's marketed to editors she knows or whatever the hell it is she does. I was recently frustrated a lot because this manuscript has been at a publisher for months and months and months and when I ask her about it she'll email the editor and ask. As far as I can tell, he doesn't respond to her.

Excuse me?!

I came right out and told her that there was this great invention called the P-H-O-N-E and she should try it some time. She said that was a great idea, she'd do it...

Did she? I don't know. Which is why I'm taking control. You see, in my nonfiction business, if I think people are ignoring me or blowing me off, I either don't work for them or I bug the shit out of them until I get an answer. As an editor, it's practically my stock-in-trade.

Am I firing my agent? No. Going around her?

Hey, I know where we are in the submission process, so no, I'm not. Besides, I don't work for her, she works for me.

Will these publishers tell me to have her submit them? (I told them in the query that she represented me). Maybe. Or maybe not. One reason I might actually be able to pull this off is because I have a track record. It can be a different story if you don't have any novels published.

Just one more example here, though. In late 2008 I was hired to collaborate with two physicians on a book proposal. I wrote the proposal, then I got an agent who handled nonfiction. She marketed it to a dozen or so publishers, most of whom didn't even want to look at the proposal (which brings up all sorts of other questions), then said she was done. So after giving it some thought, I did some research and sent out some queries on my own. And pretty soon we had a book contract offer.

There's a lot more to that story, but I'm working on the book now and it's scheduled for sometime in 2011.

The point? The point is it's YOUR writing career. And sometimes we're too dependent on other people--agents, editors, whomever--and their timelines. Not to mention their work habits and agendas.

Here's what I can say about sending out some queries today.

It felt pretty good. Taking control often does.


Blogger Natasha Fondren said...

Good! And good luck, Mark!

8:08 PM  

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