September 25th, 2013
Agents, Writer Organizations, and Conferences

As publishing continues to change, it seems that agents, writer organizations, and conferences take on new meaning. The job of agents is morphing into something else. I don’t know what, since I don’t think it’s done morphing yet. It’ll be interesting to see how many become full on publishers and how many become managers of sort.

I realized the other day that there are only a few agencies that I’d query. It’s not because I think the others are bad. They aren’t. I just believe that the ones on my very short list are the only ones that seem to be changing with the times. Right now, I’m not in a position to query any agents, since I’m only interested in having someone represent my YA’s. I’m not thrilled by how much work I have to do to publish my adult novels, but these days I wouldn’t be willing to give up the royalties.

I’ve noticed the same changes happening within writer organizations and at conferences. Several writer groups are scrambling to change with the publishing industry. Some, like a few agencies, are doing better than others. I’ve renewed a couple of my memberships, but I see a time in the not so distant future, when I drop at least one more. They are no longer serving me as a writer. If I’m being perfectly honest, one has never served me as a writer. It’s a good organization, but seems to benefit only a select few. I’d rather join a group that I can get something out of.

Conferences are falling into a weird gray area. They’re terrific for catching up with friends and mingling with writers you’ve always wanted to meet. They also tend to get the creative juices flowing…but not as much as they used to years ago. I’m sure part of it is me. I’ve changed quite a bit since I sold to New York and started self-publishing. My line in the sand of what I find acceptable has moved dramatically. I still think some conferences are worth going to. I’ll be heading to the Romantic Times Convention next year in New Orleans. I’m looking forward to going, since my Mom will be with me at least part of the time. And I’ll get to see some of my friends. I hope that they programming shifts more to an Indie angle, since I feel like I still have a LOT to learn. I suppose though that could be said about anything in writing and publishing. 🙂 Most writer conferences are stuck in the past. They’re still regurgitating the same information they were giving out ten years ago. The lack of change doesn’t bode well for their future.

As writers, we have to choose what’s best for ourselves. That information isn’t going to come out of any writer’s organization or at any conference. With the changes in publishing, we have to take a MUCH larger role in our careers, even if we go the agent route. These days they really are our PARTNERS in the publishing business. They should not dictate what you can and cannot do or suggest that you publish with them, instead of selling your work elsewhere. If you’re in a situation where that’s happening, then it’s time to find a new agent.

4 comments to “Agents, Writer Organizations, and Conferences”

  1. The days of an agent or publisher dumping promotion on the author are over. If an agent doesn’t become a marketer as well as a partner as you suggest, their time will be at an end. The business is a heck of a lot more exciting now, and a lot less disappointing when someone getting paid to help you actually does. 🙂

  2. Bernard, Publishers only did that with their ‘big name’ writers, not their midlist. There were some ads, but beyond that, not much else.

    I agree with you about being a marketer as well as a partner. It is a lot more exciting now and tumultuous, but you’re right, far less disappointing when the person getting a percentage actually works for it. 🙂

  3. ‘far less disappointing when the person getting a percentage actually works for it.’

    Amen, sister. 🙂

  4. Preaching to the choir, I know. 😉