July 27th, 2011
I’m Sure By Now

I am sure by now you all have heard about the big stink bomb that hit BookEnds after they announced they’re starting a publishing branch to their literary agency. I left a comment and so did over a hundred and fifty other people (and counting). As I said on the site, I have nothing against literary agencies, but I truly believe that once an agent becomes a publisher there is no one (but the author) looking out for the author’s best interests no matter how good ones intentions are from the start.

Last night at a romance writer’s meeting I heard Jennifer Ashley talk. One of the things I really like about Jennifer is that she doesn’t mince words when it comes to the business of writing. She discussed the hell she’s been through this past year, trying to survive the demise of a publisher and keep her pen names afloat. She writes 2000 words minimum a day and most of the time much more than that (ie 5000). She made no bones about the fact that she’s had to give up a big chunk of her life in order to have the career that she’s developed. She’s done whatever was necessary to keep her career going. That’s something a lot of writers don’t like to hear and even fewer want to have to do. She discussed the weird transition that’s happening in publishing right now and how it’s both scary and exciting.

She did say something that I found extremely helpful. She said that she has to write the story in order to ‘find’ the story. Jennifer is a panster when it comes to writing. I used to write that way, but a few years back I switched to plotting. The reason I found that bit of info so helpful is that I’ve been struggling to figure out what the story is for my new YA. I have lots of elements and several characters, but no clear direction. She says that it’s not uncommon for her to write 100 pages and have to go back and rewrite huge sections of it because it takes that many pages to ‘find’ the story. She works from the inside out. As opposed to the outside in, which is how I’ve been going about it.

I also had a writer ask me if I’d been querying agents. She seemed genuinely surprised when I told her no. She proceeded to ask me the same question three different ways as if she couldn’t quite believe it. I told her that I was just writing. I understand that it’s unusual for a writer to have finished books and not query. My plan as I expressed it here before is to stockpile manuscripts. I’m currently editing my first YA novel and writing my second. I have a fifty page urban fantasy romance partial completed, along with the synopsis. I’m not sure if I’ll finish that book. I haven’t decided yet. I do plan to write another full-length urban fantasy based on my character in BLOOD LITE 2. Once I’m done with my second YA and at least a partial of the straight urban fantasy, then I’ll look at querying agents. Hopefully there’ll be real agents left by the time I’m ready. If not, I guess I’ll go the self-publishing route. It’s always an option.

6 comments to “I’m Sure By Now”

  1. I love how Jennifer said she has to write the story to find the story, that explains exactly how I feel. And why I so often have 20 different versions of the first couple chapters. LOL

    As for agents, when I have something I want to submit, I’ll start shopping….maybe. I agree right now the writing is the main thing, when the times comes, there are plenty of options open to getting the story to readers, and building a career.

  2. Thank God we do have options. And yes, sometimes you just have to start writing, see what happens, and not be afraid to throw stuff out. Like you, right now I think the important thing is to write. And worry about what comes next when the book’s done.

  3. Sasha, Yes, she’s terrific.

    I agree completely. 🙂

  4. Charli, Yes, you’re right. It’s nice to have a few for a change.

    Absolutely. Writing is the key.

  5. I can see why publishing and agenting morays will be a weird subject over the coming years. One question Book Ends didn’t answer very well was how they planned on earning their commission. I realize agents and publishers will have to revise their relationships; but once an agenting firm dips into publishing how the heck will publishers react to anything the agents represent? I have a feeling everyone is going to take a hit in this new paradigm.

  6. Bernard, I don’t believe they had a good answer. The one that was expressed was that by putting the books up for sale, after the author had done everything else, would be why they received the 15% commission. Several people said putting the books up was the easy part and asked what else they planned, but didn’t receive much of an answer.

    Yes, a lot of relationships will have to be revised. Publishers have to figure out what they can do for authors that authors cannot do for themselves now. I imagine publishers will look at agents who publish as the competition. I don’t believe that’s a good thing. And as you questioned, how will publishers react when they receive submissions from people they consider their competition? My guess is they’ll go to the bottom of the pile unless the author is a BIG name.

    I agree.