What have been the challenges to being a literary agent the past couple of years? The musical chairs of the industry. Editors are here, there, everywhere. Keeping up with what they are seeking, where they are and if they are accepting submissions is a challenge. Smaller house are closing or being bought out by bigger ones, bigger ones are merging and imprints are sprouting or changing genres or adding them. It is a daily update. The one thing I do see is that some publishers do not take electronic submissions. This is archaic. I do not take hard copy submissions in order to save trees, time, money, space and it is not convenient to deal with papers. Oh, about time on my end… I wish I could be three or four people when it comes to Loiacono Literary Agency. I have so many GOOD submissions and I only do one a week, and sometimes it takes longer than that (size of the MS and other duties get in the way). There is a time for everything…Ecclesiastes 3, from the best book EVER written, The Bible.
How about the rewards? Seeing my surrogate babies in print. Oh, to hold that book! To see good reviews, sales numbers go up and read interviews and see pictures of my authors as they are signing books or their books are being presented to important people! Example: Tom Simmons’ The Man Called Brown Condor (the story of John Robinson, the man who help start Tuskegee Institute and who trained the Ethiopian Air Force, Sky Horse Publishing, 2012) was presented to the President of Ethiopia and he was honored at the Mississippi State Senate. See attached photos. I can tell you, I do not take on any junk! Everything I take on is top-notch and polished to a high shine before I send it out and 70% of those I have taken are have been acquired. It just keeps growing.
What can writers do to get their works published? POLISH, POLISH, POLISH that MS before sending to me. Even if it is the best story ever, I may not even look past the first page if it is riddled in errors. You may have a great story, but are clueless to the intricacies of great writing. You must also be tough enough to take ridicule, criticism and be willing to alter your “baby” to make it the best ever. I had a client who wrote a good book but was unwilling to make the changes the acquiring editor requested and the contract was dropped. You have to be flexible or you will not make it in this world of big publishing.
What are the publishers looking for these days? A little of everything, but it must be unique. The key is to have something no one else has ever done, grab the reader from the first sentence and not let them go till the last word. Some MSs start out good and then dry up like a river bed in a drought. Read and have your works read by people who know structure, grammar and literature; people who are not afraid to tell you if it is bad or needs work. That is what you want. Good reviews are for after it is released.
How do you work with authors to make their books better? I edit as I read it and make sure it is POLISHED before I send it out. When I get a submission, I read the query first. If it looks and sounds like the writer knows how to write, the work is a subject I like, it grabs my attention from the get-go and I am willing to forego doing laundry to read it (that is a sure sign it is GOOD), I will take it on. After I copy edit and decide I can sell it, I send it back to them with all the errors and changes highlighted for proofing; including an offer of representation. If the writer is agreeable, we go through the whole submission process for Loiacono Literary Agency (LLA). I am pretty darn thorough and I do not give up, even if it takes years. Then it is all about PR and marketing and keeping that author on the radar. The process never ends.
For more information, please see: www.loiaconoliteraryagency.com
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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at email@example.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2013
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