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Monday, August 16, 2010

When Do You Need a Literary Agent?

Hello Fellow Writers!

I've been a busy writer bee lately. I signed the contract with Ellora's Cave for a Christmas themed Quickie titled Ginger Snap, and I resubmitted Hollywood Spank to my editor. Fingers crossed that she buys it!

I also went back to my Taste of Candy erotic romance and decided it could work as a Quickie as well (a Quickie is what Ellora's Cave calls 10k-15k fast-paced erotic romances) so I sent that off to one of my beta-readers to see what she thinks before I submit it to my editor. I want to wait until I get a yay or nay on Hollywood Spank before I submit Taste of Candy, too.

Now I need to get to work on the next project. I have my Chastity Belt book to work on - that went by the wayside when I was doing Punishing the Art Thief edits. So I want to reconnect with that piece.

At what point, I'm wondering, do I need a literary agent? I imagine that now that I've got two books published with Ellora's Cave it might be easier to get my foot in the door, but I'm also wondering if it's a bit premature for me to start handing over 15% (or more) of my royalties.

But then I think - there's probably so much that could be done, that I'm not doing because I don't know any better! An agent could help with that. I love Ellora's Cave (whenever I want to read something hot they are the first place I hit up) but I know that some EC authors write for other publishers as well. I'm not quite sure how that works since EC options your next book when you sign their contract. So that's another thing I suppose an agent could help me with - figuring out all the fine print.

Having a literary agent is one way to avoid the slush pile. That picture above is of an untouched pile of slush in the corner of a publisher's office. An agent gets you past that and onto an editor's desk.

From Agent Query about why we need agents:
Literary agents have connections you don’t. Good literary agents are one-degree-of-separation away from the editors who decide “to buy or not to buy.” Good literary agents are tuned into the literary trends. They know which publishing imprints publish which kinds of books. They hobnob with those editors over lunch. They’re like mini-gods running the literary universe. For better or for worse, they serve as the first gatekeepers in the screening process. Okay, it’s true. The literary agent “hierarchy” adds to the bottleneck. Too many writers competing for the attention of a small pool of movers and shakers. But write a fabulous timely book, and you’ll shoot right through.

Do you have a literary agent? Do you want one?

This week I'll be writing a synopsis for Hollywood Spank - I'll need it if my editor decides to buy it, because all the contracts have a cover page with the synopsis of the book on it. So I'll write the synopsis in the hopes that I'll be needing it :) I'm also going to get back into Chastity Belt (um, not into an actual chastity belt, just into the manuscript!).

And... I may just start doing some research on which literary agents are looking for erotica.
Wish me luck and good luck to you too!


  1. Good luck with your search and if you find one, hope he or she is a good one. I've had three and they managed to sidetrack my career. Since I love epublishing and have no desire to go elsewhere, I'm content not to have an agent. Young writers might need one but who knows in this changing world of publishing.

  2. Can you email me privately so we can talk candidly? I'd love to know who your agents were and how they sidetracked your career...

  3. Sounds like an interesting conversation... Shoshanna knows my email, should you want to include me on your chat...

    I'm currently looking for an agent because I dream of being published by one of the big companies that usually only look at agented materials. And like Shoshanna said, I could use someone on my side to help me get read by editors, and understand contracts etc.

    I know there are some epublishers out there who accept unagented submissions so that may be my next door to knock on.

    Wether or not I need an agent is something I go back and forth on everyday. Wish there was a definite answer.

  4. I think most of us would LIKE to have an agent. Whether or not it's realistically feasible to get one is another story. It's easier to sell a book than land an agent. But whatever happens, you are already selling your novels and becoming a successful writer!

  5. Thanks Nora! I'll probably see how it goes for my first few books with EC and then go from there - I know a bunch of EC authors (the ones who are also published with other places and have print books out with Kensington etc) have agents. But you are giving up a chunk of $$, so for some writers it might not be worth it...

  6. Followed the link to Punishing the Art Thief. How cool it's up on the EC site already!

  7. thanks Taryn! I keep pinching myself :)

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  9. That's so cool how you got your agent, Wendy! I've also heard about some EC authors being solicited by agents... that would be pretty neat if it happened to me. When I think about querying agents I get nervous... :)

  10. Hey, Shoshanna! ;-) Kristin Nelson is a literary agent with a blog. I don't think she does erotica, as I know one thing she DOES is YA, but her blog is a great help. You should check it out. http://pubrants.blogspot.com/


  11. Great advice from Michelle. Definitely visit the agent blogs. Most of them are brimming with great advice (although sometimes some of it is conflicting). You get to learn what they want and if you want them. If they're interested in peddling an already completed and polished book or if they want to work with you. Be careful. As Wendy said, you may encounter an agent who knows what SHE wants, but that might not always dovetail with what a publisher wants.
    It may be different once your name is established with EC...and it will certainly be attractive to an agent that you can state you've sold several mss...but all other things being equal...most agents don't want to see novellas from new writers. They're looking for mss over the 50,000-word mark, generally. And, really, unless you have a full-length novel you want to submit to a publisher that does not take unagented submissions (Kensington does, btw), I, personally, don't see the point.

  12. I'll definitely check out some agent blogs. I just submitted a full length (albeit short) novel (Hollywood Spank) to EC, and I'm sure I'll write another one at some point (I just love novellas though, they work so well for erotica!). You make a good point though Taryn - Kensington accepts unagented submissions, and so does Harlequin (they have a Spice line for erotica) and those are two NY pubs I think of when I think of expanding - but an agent handles all the business stuff for you so you can do the actual writing, which I imagine would be very helpful at some point. Maybe if I wrote a mss over 125K words I'd need an agent, since EC doesn't usually publish stuff that long and anything you write over 125K is excluded from their option clause... but I've never written a book that long before so it would be a challenge for me.


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