In the writing world, a rather loosy goosy poorly knit hot mess, the generator of the magical stuff that supports the ancillary folk, is the one getting short shrift. Agents, editors, publishers all depend on the writer.
That is a knotty little problem. Writers, good or bad, up or down, must be writing. Lots but not all of them want to publish. So we’ll put them aside for this discussion. Those of us who want to see ourselves in print, or kindles, intend to publish.
Until recently, the gatekeeper to the publisher has been the agent. Agents determine if you live or die in the publishing world. The agent represents the writer to the publisher. This group had the lock on that. But why?
For 15 per cent of sales, the agent knocks on the publish door. That person had better have great contacts, ie, visibility, does anyone know their name in this hidden world, what have they sold, how long and what subjects, and on and on and on. Because, to be totally up front, the writer is going to do most of the marketing. Follow that thread and tell me what that fifteen per cent buys. No one withholds that fact, but no one says why. Ostensibly, the writer has virtually all the knowledge and understanding of her or his subject, so is best suited to selling the product. It would appear that the fifteen per cent is to open the publisher door.
Knock knock. Hello, I’m representing Newbie Writer who has no platform, has written this first book with an amazing story, as memoir, which I know is really difficult to sell, given that memoir is currently the top subject for sales ( what???) anyway, I think you might like to publish this book if only for its prospects. You have published several of my clients and I believe this would be a good fit and profitable besides. No, I ‘ve never represented her before, but she has several exposures on line and in magazines. What’s her book about? Post WWII, about which hardly anything has been written. The focus has been on the War action at the front, and those sell well, as you know. Would you consider this manuscript and get back to me, please?
The conversation would go something like that, more or less, but here’s the question: why do publishers need the agent? Why not just interview the writer? Does the writer need an interpreter? Is the publisher unapproachable by the creator of the product he’s going to entertain for sales? Am I out of my mind?
Here is the visual for why so many writers are self publishing. And why Amazon is eating their lunch. With Createspace holding the hands of the newbies, getting their books to market, providing the vehicle for little or no money, you get the idea that this is an effective end run around the road blocks called, well you know.
Why you read what you read if you read is totally subjective. You choose your subject, your author, your medium. You should be pretty picky about content, grammar, story, delivery and form. I am a dedicated word snob, but not so esoteric that my readers won’t have a clue about what I’m saying. I care to be a bit above the fray. Words are beautiful things, but not so gorgeous that the reader gets lost in the prose. The book should prioritize the story. Muddling the reader just means the book won’t be read and then not talked about.
What, as the writer, do I want? I want my reader caught up in my subject. I’m telling a story I’m very afraid will get lost. The women of WWII kept a nation together. Most of them were novices who brought no experience to the work force. They were for the most part very young, willing and as it turned out, very able. They built the tanks, the planes, the ammo. They put down their lives for the duration, and when they could pick them up again, the world had changed. The men returned, mostly broken in body and spirit, to women they didn’t recognize as the girls they left.
Oh yeah. There’s a story there. I lived it. I wrote it. I want you to read it. Betcha.