Amused Authors

Why I went straight to a publisher instead of through an agent. by Christa Maurice
November 20, 2009, 2:22 pm
Filed under: fiction, literary agents, publishing, romance, writing

With One Ring, it was really an unconsidered decision. I saw the call for submissions, volunteered myself, and sent it in. Keep in mind that One Ring was: a novella, a sweet romcom and written by an unknown. Those three strikes alone would have made it hard to place from the get go and an agent wouldn’t have wanted to touch it. Agents are in business to make money and the money to be made off One Ring just wasn’t there.

I think the only question I asked was: Really? You want it? Not very professional, huh? The contract they sent me is the one I signed. I read it over carefully. I had my husband read it (as a freelance artist he’s signed several.) Over the years, I’ve had contact with a lot of writers and have heard their contract horror stories, but I didn’t find anything in the contract that set my alarm bells ringing. In fact, when Lyrical hit a bump a few months later and had send out an addendum to the original, I signed it without hesitation.

Essentially the same thing happened with my other contracts. Before I submitted to each of those publishers, I had a baseline on them. I knew other authors who worked with them and knew that they were essentially happy. They all had track records. Honestly, the only thing that threw me about any of the contracts was how to sign the one from Liquid Silver. With both Lyrical and Freya’s Bower, I had to print it out, physically sign it and mail it back to an address. Liquid Silver only wanted me to type my name in on the electronic document and email it back. Weird.

As a writer, you do hear a lot of horror stories about publishers stealing work or making unreasonable demands in their contracts. You also come across individual writers who get angry about something and making a big stink about it. I’ve read terrible things about all my publishers, but I have the personal history to dismiss those claims. That is why you need to have several reliable sources of information. One person’s affront is another’s so? This is where researching ahead becomes very helpful. Then you don’t end up with a contract in your hands that demands your first born. It’s up to you to do the neccessary legwork.

So why not take Three Alarm Tenant, The Rock Star’s Retreat and Trio to an agent? They’re full length, the potential was there to interest an agent.

Well, Three Alarm Tenant had a sequel. (In fact, my editor recently told me I wasn’t allowed to make her wait long for the next installment.) Since I wanted to see all the books in the series published, I decided to go with the tried and true: Lyrical. I was dubious that an agent would be able to place all 4 of the books. (Um, there might be more. I have a couple of ideas for Arden’s police department too.)

The Rock Star’s Retreat didn’t have a sequel (at that time) and neither did Trio (it still doesn’t.) However, knowing I would have to put as much energy into my agent search as I had into my publisher search, I was a little hesitant to jump on that. It was much easier for me to do it myself. I do plan to start the agent search, but just haven’t yet. In the meantime I have projects I have written for epub.



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Actually, more e-publishers are starting to go with e-contracts. I believe…I want to say it’s the state of Maryland, is actually encouraging paperless businesses. (I’m old fashioned and still prefer paper contracts. *LOL*)

I decided to go with e-publishing (my first sale was “Love and Brimstone” to Amira Press) after I realized that it was silly to sit on viable manuscripts and wait years to possibly see them published, when I could market them now and make money on them. Would I love to be “traditionally” published? Sure. But many of my books are now in print (POD) and do pretty well on, so I’m not complaining there. And actually, I make more money percentage-wise on e-books than on paperbacks. And yes, piracy is an issue and it’s gotten worse lately, but I’m still fortunate enough I’m able to make a living doing this. There are enough honest people in the world paying for my books and not pirating them that my publishers still want to publish me. *LOL* I do know some writers who have gotten so discouraged by pirates that they’ve decided to stop writing, which is really, really sad. The pirates don’t care about the books they steal or the authors they steal from, just that they’re stealing. Ugh.

But my point is (to drag myself back on topic) is at this point in my life, why would I pay an agent to do what I’m doing for myself? I know several writers making good livings publishing with independent houses. So for now, it’s working, and I don’t want to mess with a profitable process. LOL

Comment by Lesli Richardson

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