Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Agent Q&A Wednesday

Here is today's Q&A with Michelle Grajkowksi of Three Seas Literary Agency. Be sure to check in next week when she de-mystifies the world of Hollywood and movie/tv deals. And don't forget to stop by Friday for a Q&A with Toni Blake.

1) When a published category author is looking to move to single title, will they have to write the complete of the ST or will they be able to sell on partial?

In most cases, an agent will be able to sell a category author on proposal to a single title house. If you are a category author looking to move towards single title, my best piece of advice is to perfect your voice. Make it extremely unique and eliminate any trace of category from your writing. The biggest objection that I've found when trying to place an author is that their voice sounds "too category." A single title book is not just longer, but the plot should be multi-layered and there should be a wonderful cast of distinct characters in the story. In category, the main focus of the story is the romance developing between the hero and heroine. In the single title market, while the developing romance of course is key, pay close attention to adding more - more romance, more plot, more characterizations. Single title books are not just more words, they are more everything.

2) If an author gets multiple offers from agents, picks one, and then realizes she made a mistake a few months later, would it be bad protocol to call one of those agents she rejected and say she has changed her mind?

If an author signs with an agent and after three months decides it is the wrong choice, there really should be a good reason. Why does the author feel it was a mistake? It is OK to reapproach an agent that she originally turned away, but the author's reasons for thinking she made a mistake should be well thought out. Agent B will probably ask her why it isn't working and if it's a case of the author just not giving the relationship enough time to develop, the agent probably will think twice before re-offering representation. However, if there are valid reasons for the author to end the relationship (she's not getting a good response, etc.), then Agent B would probably be apt to take a chance.

You have to understand the situation from an agent's perspective. We take on a new author because we believe in her and her career. And, each new author is a great monetary and time investment on our part. Because, remember, we are not paid unless we sell. There is nothing more discouraging than to sign with an author you adore only to have her leave after a short period of time for reasons that don't seem to make sense. Therefore, when an author agent hops, it does wave a red flag because, honestly, it's hard to make the decision to commit to an author who may turn around and leave after the agent has invested a great deal in her. My best advice - do your homework BEFORE you sign with an agent. Ask for references, and talk to the other authors she represents. Is this someone you think you can work with based on what you've learned? Don't be afraid to leave a bad situation, but try to discuss your feeling with the agent before you do. Many things can be resolved easily with a conversation.

3) What is the Secret Agent Cartel?

The Secret Agent Cartel was formed a couple of years ago by a top-notch romance agent. We meet annually at Nationals and also have an active loop where we discuss topics that pertain to the romance genre. I feel so fortunate to be a part of this wonderful community. The agents involved are all highly-respected leaders in the field and we are able to grow from the knowledge that we share. It truly is a blessing!

4) What are the advantages of writing under a pen name versus your real name?

That really is a personal decision. Some authors want to be anonymous, while others want the world to know they wrote a book. There really aren't advantages one way or the other. However, if you are writing in more than one genre, it may be in your best interest to write under more than one name. It will help keep your career and your numbers separate from one another. For example, contemporary romance normally has higher sales than historicals. By writing under two separate names, you are better able to control your career growth as booksellers will treat each of your genres individually.


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