What have you always wanted to ask an agent?
I started this blog nearly ten years ago (we’re coming up on the ten year anniversary for this blog), as a way to simply answer the questions writers have about the process. Some people wanted to ask about writing, others about publishing, still others about marketing. Writers asked about careers, they asked about proposals, and they asked about contracts. Lately we’ve had a ton of people asking about indie publishing and working with Amazon to become a hybrid author.
Over the next couple of months, I thought we’d do an “ask me anything” segment. So… what have you always wanted to ask a literary agent? I’ve got a backlog of questions, but I thought I’d begin by simply asking the people who read this blog a question: If you could sit with me over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine somewhere, and ask anything you wanted, what would you want to know? What would you like to chat about?
Drop a question in the “comments” section below, or send me an email at chip (at) macgregorliterary(dot)com, and I’ll try to offer short answers to your questions. You can ask about books, about proposals, about writing, career planning, marketing, platforms, proposals, or anything else. If I don’t know an answer, I’ll ask someone who does. If they don’t know, I’ll just make up something that sounds good. (Or maybe I’ll ask someone else.)
So there you have it — October is gong to be “ask the agent” month. Send me your tired, your poor, your huddled questions yearning to breath free. I’ll do my best to get you a good response.
Newbie here. I learned all that is necessary to become published after I wrote my book. Recognizing I have started to build my platform much later than I should have, do I give up on sending my manuscript to an agent until a platform is built (years later…) or is there an situation where sending is valid? Should I be working on self-publishing instead? To re-word: Without an existing platform, is traditional publishing a dream and is self-publishing the correct path?
Yeah, but there are a lot of writers in this situation, David. It’s a good question for us to discuss. I’ll respond to this one in today’s blog, and you let me know if we should keep talking about it.
I’d love to know your agents’ specialties. Does anyone enjoy handling western historical fiction? Thanks! Lois Keffer
Okay, Lois — I”ll insert that into the next blog.
Do you chase your own dream even though no one else is doing it, or chase a trend even though it may be played out before you are done?
What a fabulous question. Responded to this one today, Traci.
thanks! And it was good answer, too.
What is the most creative way you have received a book idea/proposal? And did it work?
Ha! I’ve had great and wacky presentations, Daryl. I responded to this one in the blog. Thanks!
I’m a creative who writes not only adult non-fiction and non genre fiction, but also MG fiction. How do I search for an agent who will represent the breadth of my diversified writing.
Happy to get this, since I think it’s a question that doesn’t get talked about a lot, Lorelei. Responded to it today.
What is your dream book…dream client? (I would only ask this after wine.)
Love this question. Responded to it today. Glad you sent it my way, Amanda.
Just read it, thanks!
When you send a proposal to few publishers. How long do you wait until you send to somebody else? Do you wait for an answer before sending to others? Is there a grace period?
Yes, and what’s the timeline difference between waiting to hear back on a proposal and waiting to hear back on a requested manuscript?
AND I responded to this one as well, Amanda. Thanks for sending it in.
This was immensely helpful. I appreciate it!
Good question that I hear frequently, Allen. Responded to this one in the next blog post.
I am brand new to the industry… just delving into the potential of writing Christian fiction. So what are the first steps – in identifying the right agent, reaching out and establishing that agent/author relationship, writing and getting a publisher to release the first novel… it’s overwhelming on this side of the mountain, looking up at all that is yet to come!
Okay, let me get to this in my next post, ColorfulOnes. Appreciate the question.
Hello Chip, I’ve wanted to ask you this since you posted on publishing figures:
Do you think Christian fiction is where Christian music was a couple decades ago – where certain music was deemed “UnChristian” ect? You’ve always said Christian men’s fiction is a tough(er) sell and I wonder if that’s because we’re fragmenting our market, tongues, no tongues, No Catholics, dunk or sprinkle, Reform or Free Will and because some find real thrillers too edgy, ect. So many Christian guys read secular Thrillers, for example. I know you also say good writing will always get published, but how many copies will it sell in this market if some just won’t read it cause there’s gun battles or Catholics, ect
My opinion is after all that type of controversy cleared out is when Christian music got really good, or, maybe it was vice versa, the music got better and then the controversy died.
How do you see it and do you see it changing?
Good question — let me respond in my next set of answers, joe.
If I have an agent, then decide to write self-pubbed novel, how can I include my agent in the process? I would worry about damaging our relationship by self-publishing, and would want my agent involved and, of course, compensated for his or her time and efforts.
Ditto, Ron. Check the next blog post for my response.
Suppose you have a character in your novel that would be a perfect role for a particular actor. Should you tell your agent about it and let them handle it? Or, if you have a convoluted trail of people which might culminate with getting a copy of your manuscript into that actor’s hands, should you forge ahead on your own?
I responded to this on my next blog post, Trish.