Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Start at the Top!

It is wise for a writer who is seeking representation to start at the top, and work down.

This means that they’ll not have any practice under their belt before they approach their all-time, number-one favourite agent, so they’ll need to make sure that their query package is as perfect as they can get it before they send it off—but writers are meant to polish their work so this shouldn’t be any hardship (and this is just one of the reasons why it’s a good idea for writers to belong to good writers’ groups and get feedback on all their work before they send it anywhere).

It also means that when they’re offered representation they’ll not have to say, “Would you mind waiting for a few months while I query other agents, in case I can find someone who is better than you?”


DOT said...

I discovered your blog through LibraryThing and am very pleased I did.

I belong to a big group of blogging writers, some published, some not. If it is okay with you, I'd like to post your link on my blog as I think many would be interested in your views.

I'll give it a day or two to see if you approve.

Gary Eby,MSW said...

Thanks for your comments on "how publishing really works." Also thanks for the greeting on Absolute Write Water Cooler. Feel free to post a sample of your work on my lense:
Sincerely: Gary Eby, author and therapist

Jane Smith said...

Dot, you're welcome to link to here--in fact, I'd appreciate it if you did.

Do let me know if there's anything you'd like me to discuss here: I'm open to suggestion. My email address is on my front page if you'd rather do so privately.


Jane Smith said...

Gary, thanks for visiting here.

I remember you from AW: you announced that you'd just signed up to publish with Sterling House, a known vanity press.

I've had a look at your website: it's not made clear what the site is for, and most of the advice that I read there is of very questionable quality.

This, coupled with your apparent naivety about vanity publishing and your comment-spam, means that I cannot recommend your site to anyone, and won't be visiting it again.


DOT said...

Thanks Jane, I will do that and give you plug as, prepare for a slight swelling of the cranium, the advice you give seems to me to be the most grounded and sensible I've read on the topic of publishing.

Jane Smith said...

This is an official announcement:

I am now a little in love with Dot.

Joking apart, there is an awful lot of misinformation about publishing on the internet. New writers must be terribly careful who they listen to if they don't want to end up throwing their work away via vanity publishers. To try to prevent that I'm always happy to address specific issues on my blog: so feel free to ask questions (if you'd rather do so privately you'll find my email address on the front page) and I'll respond on this blog as soon as I can.


Nicola Slade said...

Would it be an idea, Jane, to list somewhere on this blog as many known vanity publishers as you can muster? Not in the sense of advertising them, more as a warning to new writers that they should be approached with open eyes? You could add to the list as and when...

Jane Smith said...

Nicola, that's a good idea but there are a couple of problems with it.

There are so many out there that if I listed them and missed one out, someone might take that to imply that the one I missed was not a vanity press, and go ahead and publish with it. Sounds unlikely? I've seen it happen.

I've already been threatened with legal action by one vanity press this year (and I've had hate-mail as a result of a couple of my blog posts--I'm doing very well at blogging bingo) and while I knew I'd done nothing wrong in labelling them as a vanity press that's the sort of attention I would rather do without.

If anyone has any specific concerns they're free to ask here, or email me, and ask my opinion in private; and Absolute Write has a section called "bewares and background checks" where anyone can ask questions about suspected vanity presses.

I will consider your suggestion, but bearing in mind the lawsuit that many people are facing at the moment for identifying a particular agent as one of the twenty worst (see my recent blog post about it), I think I'm too small to do that sort of high-profile stuff just yet.


Anonymous said...

I agree with Jane here: It's very dangerous ground to tread by making a public announcement disparaging any company or individual without the possibility of facing a law suit!