The New Agent Paradigm and Summer Reruns

After having been late or absent for my last several blog posts, it has come to my attention that I might need a blog break!

I will be fantastically busy through July, but I dislike stagnant blogs, so I have decided to put myself into syndication. That’s right. Summer reruns.

Starting Monday I will be doing blog REposts for the next few months (think of it as a “best of” The Accidental Novelist), although you probably won’t even notice, since most of you have only joined me in the last several months, and I can pull from years of bloggy goodness.

I will still post news every once in a while and will definitely respond to comments. Just trying to stay mentally healthy and balanced.

But, before I turn myself over to other life duties, I wanted to write about something I’ve been exploring recently: the new paradigm evolving for finding an agent.

Authors have gotten a lot of attention in the past 10 years. Some are practically rock stars. More and more people see it as a viable career choice. And because the Internet has made it so easy to submit a query, the agent slush pile has gotten out of control.

Agents live to discover great writers. But I can only imagine how overwhelming it must be to receive thousands of unsolicited submissions every year.

Agents were the gatekeepers; now they need gatekeepers of their own. Some agents curb their submissions by only accepting them part of the year or only through conferences. Conferences are terrific places to meet agents, of course, but they are sometimes cost prohibitive or problematic if one has small children.

But where there’s a problem, helpful people always find opportunities. And what is manifesting are creative ways for authors and agents to connect. Some of these places are more like online bulletin boards and others are places to hone your work. Bottom line is that many authors and agents are finding each other through these resources.

One of the most entertaining sites is the blog Miss Snark’s First Victim. The author who runs this blog hosts manuscript auctions where agents bid on the work, secret agent critiques, and other critique-driven submission contests. She also posts success stories of authors who found their agents through her site. She is a generous host and keeps the site positive and professional.

One of the latest sites I’ve come across is webook.com – which is “community picked writing.” Anyone can sign up to be a “reader” on webook and rate and critique work. Authors pay $3.95 for each submission in webook’s “Page to Fame” program. In a nutshell, writers start by submitting 1 page and this gets rated. If it makes the cut, then the first 5 pages is rated, and so on. The whole thing is anonymous for the writer.

Readers can get promoted as well as writers and only the top of the top readers can rate the top of the top work.

From the site: “Each time a book gets elevated, a publishing pro reviews the writing. Winners of Round 3 are promoted to a large group of literary agents who are eager to find the next bestseller on PageToFame.”

The site also has an online query system called Agent Inbox. There’s no vetting here, it’s just a system for querying their partner agents.

I have not used the site and there are legitimate agents involved. So, check it out. Maybe it’s the site for you.

The one that has really caught my attention is AgentSalon.com. What’s interesting about this site is the very involved profile application process as well as how involved the staff is with the process. You can’t just join the site. They want to make sure you are career-minded, able to take criticism, and truly wanting to grow as a writer.

The “application” includes your story’s hook line, conflict, characters, summary, climax, writing samples, as well as a bio and personal writing goals.

Once you are accepted you form your own unique peer group. These folks critique your profile and you edit it until you receive a high enough score to move on to editing. Then they critique your first 50 pages. After that you reach “marquee” level and if A.S. approves (they always have the last call as to whether your work is ready), they will showcase your work to agents and publishers and producers. Movie deals have been made and agents acquired through the site.

I think this site is a great idea for writers who have had work published in the past by small presses, or in a different medium. Personally, I like the exclusivity of it, because I want the people in my writer’s group (virtual or otherwise) to be serious about their careers as well to be at a certain level of writing.

Here’s an article on Writer’s Edge about what they are doing on Author Salon.

BTW – A.S. is currently free in its beta stage, but it will eventually cost money to join. If you are at all interested, I’d get in now while it’s still free.

Another site worth exploring (free and open to everyone) is W.A.E. (writers, agents, editors) Network. This is less critique and more conversation and advice. It’s basically social media for writers (and agents and editors), and a helpful community for writers of different levels who want to learn about the query process (and beyond).

They also have a “pitch fest” area where you can post your queries for agents to peruse. I have no idea if any agents have been procured via this resource, but there seem to be agents who use the site and the creators of the site are former agents.

(Years ago I used to hang out on ZoeTrope – one of the original online critique communities. I found it very helpful at the time, but again, since anyone can join, writers of all different levels were critiquing each others’ work. It’s a great place to learn HOW to critique someone else’s work. Which is a great way to become a better writer. I do not know if agents ever look on this site)

Well, for someone who wanted to blog less, this was quite the long post. But I wanted to share this new information as well as hear from any of you who have explored some of these new sites or have any others to add to the mix.

I was approved on AuthorSalon last week and am forming my peer group. I will let you know how it goes!

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4 Comments

Filed under novel adventures, query process, writing life

4 responses to “The New Agent Paradigm and Summer Reruns

  1. Just found through through Middle Grade Monday. I wanted to let you know that I’ve added your blog to Middle Grade Mania, a directory of blogs that post about middle grade fiction. http://middlegrademania.blogspot.com/

  2. Well, congratulations to you that you are too busy to blog regularly 🙂 This particular post is timely for me as I have revamped my novel and once I finish with the final copyedits, I plan to hit the query field. I have taken a number of blows in this arena, so I’m not as excited as I should be.

    I like the sound of some of those sites, and I did briefly glance at WAE and Author Salon. I hesitate only because I’m notorious for putting the active querying aside while I “polish” my novel once more. But I will browse the sites to see what they have to offer. Thanks for the links!

    • Blows come with the territory and no one escapes. I know that fact doesn’t make it any easier, and it can get depressing/frustration. We have to just keep learning and growing and putting ourselves out there.

      Do you use querytracker.com? That’s a great way to keep track of your queries and see how other writers queries are doing. Good for organization and research.

      I definitely recommend Author Salon now that i’ve been there for a few weeks. At some point I’ll post an update.

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