1.) Getting an Agent is Like Payday
Don't get me wrong. The day you get an agent is a great, great, GREAT day. And you should definitely celebrate it. But I think a lot of people mistake it for the book nerd equivalent of a Snoop Dogg video.
Really, the day you get an agent is like the first day of the rest of your book life. Or like the first sentence of a brand new chapter in your book life, and sometimes, you're very lucky, and it's a very easy chapter to write. Most of the time, however, the chapter takes a while to write, and you're left waiting and waiting. Or you're left wondering what happens next.
2.) All You Need is Any Ole Agent
Like, I wish I had a button you could press right HERE that went off with flashing green lights that left your mind in a daze and your eyes all blurry. It's true that any agent can submit your work to any publisher. But it is NOT true that any agent can get your work READ by any editor. If you don't get a great agent, chances are, your stuff may not get read at a Big Fancy House, and it will certainly not get prioritized. The reason you work with big-name agents or agents at established literary agencies is because of the rapport these agents have with editors. Editors trust their taste, and these agents know what these editors are looking for in manuscripts.
3.) Your Agent Will Sub Whatever You Write
Not even close to true. I have a lot of good friends rep'ed by terrific agents. Many of my friends have written several books their agents won't sell. Period. If this is something that might make you flinch, be sure to have this conversation with your potential agent before it becomes an issue. Because it's a reality.
4.) Your Big Fancy Publisher Will Handle All Your Marketing
Nope. Your Big Fancy Publisher will COORDINATE some of your marketing. Probably. But you are still responsible for putting yourself out there and being accessible to your readers. Gone are the days when writers were misery curmudgeons hiding in their basements, subsisting solely on cheese and the tears of lesser men. You need to put the Slither in Slytherin. The Grin in Gryffindor. The . . . you get the picture.
5.) Things Will Start to Make Sense Once . . .
Nope. They won't. I have one of the best agents in the business. I'd say the best, but I'm biased, and I'm trying to be somewhat grounded, for the sake of this blog (please don't send me a testy email, B). I'm also working with a terrific publishing house. But I still feel like I don't know what's going on, no matter what I do. The truth is, this business will chew you up and spit you out. One day you'll be on an absolute high, and then the next, you'll be in a corner, hugging your knees, listening to John Legend on repeat. Anyone who says otherwise is selling you something. Besides a book.
6.) You Can't Trust Anybody
This is kind of a half-myth. And I struggled with sharing this one. Because it sucks to put this out there. Of course, there are people you can't trust. But don't believe that everyone out there is gunning for you or hoping you'll fail. It's absolutely true that there's jealousy in the book world . . . because there are always bigger book deals and better covers and flashier marketing plans right around the corner. But there are also amazing friends to be made and people who will catch you when you fall and offer a shoulder to cry on when it's greatly needed. Don't suspect that everyone is waiting for you to fail.
A lot of people just want to be your friend. And book friends are some of the best friends in the world.
About the Author :
Renee Ahdieh is a writer of Young Adult books. Her novel THE WRATH AND THE DAWN, a reimagining of The Arabian Nights, will be published by Penguin/Putnam in 2015.
Connect with Renee . . .
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