I’d probably fall under number one. Young Adult Fantasy is probably one of the most competitive genres to break into.
This is mostly about non-fiction, but some of it applies to fiction too. I’d probably fail on 1, 2 and 10. Platform for fiction? I can see it becoming necessary… “Deer agent plz publsh my buk cuz I haz lyk 5k frends on face book an 10k follwrs on twitr lol.” Though if you can get that many people interested in you and what you’re doing and you *can* string a coherent paragraph together, I have to wonder what will be left for the agent to do…
EDIT: I’m probably too cynical for my own good… an agent’s job is basically to promote the author – initially to a publisher, but later to the public as well. Someone who has 5,000 friends on Facebook and 10,000 followers on Twitter is already doing a pretty good job of promoting himself, wouldn’t you say? (Though I don’t use either site, so I have no idea if those numbers are anything to be impressed by.) If such a person is an author, he can just put his book in the Kindle Store and tell his friends and followers to buy it. If they like it, they’ll tell their friends about it, who will in turn tell their friends, so what does he need an agent for?
A year ago, or even a month ago, I would’ve laughed at an author who said they were going to do this. That was before I heard about Amanda Hocking selling a million ebooks on her own. Now I’m wondering why *I* need an agent. There are still some whom I haven’t given the opportunity to reject my book, but if they all say no, I might as well offer it for sale as an ebook. Probably it’ll only earn pennies, but at least that’ll be more than it’s earning now.
EDIT 2: Definitely too cynical for my own good… I stand corrected about who’s supposed to do what. I don’t mind who does the promotion, as long as it doesn’t have to be me. I wouldn’t object to doing interviews and book signings – stuff that another person can’t do for me – but figuring out which interviews and signings are worth doing, and making sure that they happen? That shouldn’t be my responsibility.
I agree that a given book will sell more copies when printed by commercial publisher than if self-published, but cheap and widely-available ebook readers like the Kindle are eroding the difference – the physical experience of reading a self-published book on a Kindle is the same as reading a commercially-published book, and the self-published book can be sold for less, because the author doesn’t have to pay anyone else’s wages.
A year ago, I could name maybe ten authors who had self-published and had then gone on to be successful through commercial publishing. I couldn’t have named anyone who’d been successful through self-publishing alone. The old certainties are disappearing, and I’m not sure what will replace them.
A Wizard’s Daughter (the book I’m always touting around here) is the fifth novel I’ve completed, and the second one I’ve tried to get published. I’m editing a sequel, and am a third to halfway through the first draft of another, unrelated, novel. With the new one, I’m wavering between “nobody will ever want to read this,” and “the second draft will fix that – it always does.” Just about everybody grasps writing concepts slowly. That guy who said you need to write a million words for practice before you get to the good stuff? He knew what he was talking about.
1 and 5, no one will listen to the 15 year old girl who wants to publish simply because she loves writing. pfft!
I think 2 & 3 are what’s killing me. The one I’m querying is young adult contemporary with an LGBT theme. So the agents who are known for repping LGBT stuff already have clients who write it, and I’m a definite “no” as not to conflict w/what they already have. The other side of it is that it is a tougher sell than a m/f YA summer love story because of the content. YA LGBT books sell; agents rep them and publishers buy them and publish them. It’s just a matter of the right timing b/c it’s such a high-risk topic. *sigh*
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