Most of you probably already know that Predators & Editors provides a wonderful resource to writers. P&E gives lists of attorneys, publishers, agents and contests, as well as other publishing industry concerns. They do not represent or support any entity but share warnings and information about many of those you come in contact with on your writer’s journey. I keep the site bookmarked in my “Tools” bookmark folder. Before using a service you can look them up on P&E. I also recommend that you Google search the name of the person or organization plus “complaints.”
I recommend adding this link to your tool box and using it frequently. P&E also provides a place for you to post warnings from your own experiences.
With the changing publishing industry and so many opportunities to self-publish electronically, it seems more writers are striking out on their own. I don’t know about you, but I find myself asking the question: Do I need an agent?
At the recent Frontiers in Writing Conference, I was on the faculty with Hilary Sayers, former fiction acquisitions editor for Kennsington Publishing Company. She has been in the industry for many years and is a wealth of information about the industry. I asked her “Do i need an agent?”
Her answer: In spite of the fact that I have books published with small publishers and have plans to release some self-published books using Nook and Kindle to broaden my availability to reach my market, Hilary said I still need an agent. The advantages of getting an agent include their connections in the industry and ability to get your book in front of editors in the big publishing houses. Most of the big houses cannot be penetrated without an agent. In addition, an agent knows all the ins and outs of the business. They are professionals at negotiating contracts and can get the best terms available for their clients. Getting an agent to represent you is still very much a part of the process to full success in publishing.
Writing is a solitary act. Most of us write because we can’t keep the words bottled up and need to express ourselves. To learn the skills and the publishing business we need to rely on each other and professionals to mentor and teach us. Our writing skills don’t necessarily grow in a vacuum. Some authors are a natural and write a bestseller first time out. However, even those writers have agents, editors, and publishers.
If you’ve never attended a writers’ conference, then I’d recommend selecting one. Some of my previous posts include information about conferences around the country (U.S.) What are the benefits?
Get to know other writers
Meet agents and editors in the business
Become part of a network of people who know how to get from draft to publication and learn from them
Take advantage of 10 – 15 minute pitching sessions with agents or editors. It helps by-pass the slush pile.
Realize that others are going through the same experience you are
Receive information and handouts that can be career changing. Put them in a notebook and refer to them.
Find inspiration and encouragement
You’ll return home fired up and excited about your writing. I encourage you to find a conference or retreat in your area and put it on your calendar. Put the money aside for the event over the coming months. Research the editors and agents who will be attending and taking appointments. Enter contests in conjunction with the writers’ conference for prizes and great feedback on your work. Wear your comfortable shoes and enjoy yourself.