Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Author Laurie Alice Eakes on having the Right Agent, Part 2

Thank you so much, Laurie Alice, for sharing your story. You can find her at her website or her blog, Seize the Chance.

Continued from Part One:

Then tragedy struck. My best friend found out she had four months to live. She told me to go back to writing, to pursue that dream and not let that lousy agent stop me. My friend believed in me. Several other life-changing events occurred, too, and I found myself with a renewed relationship with the Lord, glad my secular stuff had gone nowhere, joined ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), and, by a pure miracle of the Lord, got an agent who believed in me.

I had done my research on her. She was new, so no former clients, but also that meant she was hungry. No, she didn’t have great contacts in the industry, but she was outgoing and warm and had a desire to succeed. She was also a writer, so knew people in the business. She was also working with an experienced agent. Frankly, I felt that I had nothing to lose at this point.

Ten years after that first agent told me I couldn’t write and my idea was terrible, I sold that terrible idea to Avalon Books. Family Guardian won the National Readers’ Choice Award for Best Regency the year it came out. And since then, I have sold twelve more books. Why? Yes, I suppose I have some talent and ability, and I also have an agent who believes in me, encourages me, sticks with me, tells me when something won’t work, but also tells me when something does. And an agent who always submits what she says she will.

These are the minimal points you should expect from your agent. Not all will hold your hand. If you want that, then seek one who will. If you want one who just submits and doesn’t care if your dog died and your heart is broken, so long as you meet your deadline, then make sure you know that ahead of time, too. I tend to need some encouragement, someone to call me up and say, Hello, look at that award on your desk when you think you can’t write. Look at those books with your name on the spine. This isn’t for everyone and not every agent will do this for you either. I have a friend whose agent gets her good deals, then disappears. I would hate that. Well, I’d like the deals, but I don’t want my agent to disappear.

Your agent should be honest with you about your work, but should also encourage you. She (or he) should keep you up on the market and pay attention to whom she is selling. If she’s never sold to publishing house X, she may not have a connection there or like the stuff those editors do, so she’s not a good fit.

Whole books are written on this subject, so I’m just summarizing as best I can. Feel free to ask questions in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer them.


38 comments:

Katie Ganshert said...

Thanks for sharing your story! It contains a wealth of wisdom! I just got an agent. I'm feeling very optimistic about our relationship!

Jody Hedlund said...

So glad for a happy ending! Sounds like you have a wonderful relationship with your agent!

Terri Tiffany said...

I really enjoyed this! You have been very encouraging and real!

anita said...

Thanks so much for the post, Laurie! After reading this, I'm thinking I'd kind of like to have the agent that holds my hand from time to time. The vanishing act can be frustrating, even if they're working for you while they're MIA.

May God continue to bless your writing journey! :-)

Sarah Forgrave said...

I'm so glad your story has a happy ending! I would love an agent who takes an interest in helping me advance my writing career, not just trying to sell a book. Glad to hear you found a good balance!

Jaime said...

Great posts, Jessica and thanks for Laurie for sharing!!

Jennifer Shirk said...

Laurie:
Yeah, I wouldn't my agent to just disappear either. Thanks again for sharing!

Jessica:
I have a gift for you on my blog.

LaurieAlice said...

I'm so glad my story has encouraged and adviced and helped you all. I want no one to suffer as I did. It cans till shake me up at times.

One thing I want to tell you is the serendipidous way in which I got my agent. I joined ACFW and got into a critique group because I knew little about Christian fiction. At the same time, I did submit something to an agent. She was booked up, so passed it along to a new agent in her agency because that woman had been talking about the new person in their critique group and how much she liked her writing. I didn't even know one of my new critique partners was an agent starting out in the business. I didn't even have anything finished to sellable point then, as I was in grad school. It took another 2.5 years, due to a crosscountry move on my part, finishing my master's thesis, and enduring a corporate job, but it finally happened with lots of encouragement.

Linda Kage said...

Thank you so much for the wonderful advice. Makes me want to go agent hunting, because I really feel like I know what to look for now!!

Jessica said...

Thank you to everyone for commenting!

Laurie Alice, that is an amazing story! I can't believe she was in your crit group. LOL

Tamika: said...

I loved hearing this real account. Searching for a perfect fit can be exhausting, but it's important not to negate your needs.

I pray when the time comes I will be sensitive to making a wise choice over an anxious one.

Cindy said...

Laurie, thank you so much for sharing your story. It's really helped renew that passion in me to go for what I want with all that I have.

T. Anne said...

That inspires me so much you do not even know! Bless you and I'm so glad you are loving your agent. Your story is going to stick with me forever. Big hug!

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Wow, what an encouraging post. Thanks Laurie and Jessica. I'm one of those who would want someone who stuck around too. Not hound, but stuck around to offer support and guidance during the new project phases.

Jessica said...

Me too, Eileen. No communication would drive me nuts!

T. Anne, thanks for handing out that hug! You're so sweet. :-)

Cindy, I'm so glad this inspired you! I think it's an incredible story and I'm really thankful Laurie Alice shared it.

Tamika, wise words. We should never negate our needs. That's so true.

Julie Dao said...

I love this. Thank you so, so much for sharing this story! It's wonderful to read such excellent advice on this subject.

denise petrovich said...

Very good info. Thanks for sharing the story and thoughts. I look forward to reading your books. Thanks to you and Jessica. Mom(Denise)

denise petrovich said...

Very good info. Thanks for sharing the story and thoughts. I look forward to reading your books. Thanks to you and Jessica. Mom(Denise)

Tabitha Bird said...

Great post. Thanks so much for sharing your journey.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jess and Laurie -

Excellent posts! Thanks for your advice and warnings.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Stephanie Faris said...

How did your agent feel about Avalon Books? I had some friends who wrote for them...I'm just curious. I've had a complete there since early this year and I don't know what to do if they get back to me positively on it. I guess just give them my agent's name and let her go from there.

Angie Muresan said...

Thanks for sharing Laurie. And thanks for posting on this important topic, Jessica. So great to have all this info in hand before I start my search.

Jessie Oliveros said...

Awesome story. Helps me understand what questions to ask. Glad that everything worked out in the end for you, what an amazing number of books you've sold!

Sharon A. Lavy said...

Great and informative post. Thanks

Laurie Alice Eakes said...

First of all, thank you all for your kind words. I am so glad it encouraged you all to know that one can come back from despair and certainty that one has failed, to seeing God's hand in all of it.

Regarding Avalon, they are great to work with. Mind you, they don't pay much, only enough to get you into the Published Authors Network of RWA, and rarely do the books sell enough to give you royalties. On the other hand, the books are beautiful and are often--at least one a year out of the 36 romances they publish--winning awards. I've sold five books to them, only one of which is out. The others are coming out over the next couple of years, one in August.

Working with them is good. They always want a completed manuscript, and if you have a submission in, take note that Faith Black left in August and Chelsey Gilmore is now the senior editor. She's a dear, too.

How does my agent feel about them? Shelikes working with them. No, she makes little, too, but she likes seeing her authors sell to them, mainly because it is publishing credits that are highlyr espected in the industry. They are also so squeaky clean no CBA publisher is bothered by one of their authors having written for them. Avalon authors have gone on to sell to Thomas Nelson, Barbour Publishing, Steeple Hill, and at least two of us to Baker/Revell.

I'd gotten a rather obnoxious rejection from an editor (she told me I didn't know what I was talking about, when, for various reasons, I know I knew more than she possibly could, but that's another story) at a big publisher and was going to quit writing. I had a corporate job and little time with the commute. My agent recommended I write a Regency for Avalon, just a proposal, as it would take time to get back with her anyway. I dusted something off and we sent it in. She got back with my agent in two days. I scrambled to get that full written, writing on my PDA on the train, writing on mylunch hour, and getting up at 4 in the morning for a few minutes before work. It was nuts. But I did it and the editor bought it.

It's a tough business. Editors are people and don't have good days, too. They are not always the most polite in their rejections. And rejection is inevitable. One dusts oneself off and keeps going. If it'syour calling and your gift, you can't do anything else.

Diane said...

Sounds like you're doing great! So glad you hung in there and refocused your efforts. :O)

Patti said...

A great happy ending.

Irritable Mother said...

Happy endings are the best.
Well, Jesus is the BEST, but I love happy endings, too. *grin*

Jessica said...

Laurie Alice,
Thanks so much for sharing all that! I've wondered about Avalon, actually, but didn't know too much.

Kathryn Magendie said...

How wonderful and exciting for you! This made me smile....

but now I am thinking of your friend, too --

Anissa said...

Thank you for sharing this. :)

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Thanks for sharing! Love hearing the real life experiences.

LaurieAlice said...

Thank you to Jessica for having me stop by. If you all are on Facebook, friend me. I love keeping up with what people are thinking and doing.

Deb Shucka said...

The very best kind of happily ever after. And very will told. Thank you so much for sharing.

Susanne Dietze said...

Thanks Laurie Alice and Jessica: this has been very enlightening and encouraging. It helps me clarify what I want in an agent, and I've learned a lot. Thank you!

Jessica said...

Thank you for stopping by, Susanne!

Great story, right Deb? I'm still in awe over all those contracts! LOL

Tina Dee Books said...

The first agent didn't like Family Guardian??!!!! I LOVE that book!

I'm so glad you found a new agent and I can't wait to get my hands on your new titles. You are an incredibly gifted writer who puts the reader in the skin and heart of the character and drops us right into the setting with vivid description.

I'm praying the Lord blesses your work beyond what anyone could ever dream!

Hugs to you, Laurie Alice!

LaurieAlice said...

Thankyou, Tina D., for your kind words onmy writing. No, my agent didn't get the younger sister getting the older sister's old beau part. Tamela Murray of Hartline Literary Agencyis now my agent. They have a web site and a blog, so look them up. hartlineliterary.com, I believe.