Saturday, September 10, 2011

2011 PNWA Conference: Agents Forum

Agents preparing to enter the forum.
(Image from:  Get Smart)

This was Friday's Big Event, Part II.  Twenty-two agents formed this year's panel to lift "the cone of silence" off some of the publishing industry's deepest secrets.  Bob Dugoni, continued his hosting duties and established the same ROE (Rules of Engagement) as he did during the previous workshop.  (See the Editors Forum post, 4 Sep 11). 

The agents panel (with links included), consisted of:

Agents deciding whether my work is best suited to line the litter box, or the bird cage.
(Image from:  Get Smart, the movie)

Since nearly every writer attending the conference had a WIP (Work In Progress), the first question posed to the panel was:

If submitted a partial, but have since revised it, should you submit the revised copy?

"No, don't change it"--Kate McKean
"Edit and workshop your book before you submit it"--Gordon Warnock.

Other questions soon followed...

If you pitched, then delayed, can you submit your work several months later?

"State where & when you met me"--Laretta Barett.
"Don't query agents until your material is ready to go"--Kate Folkers.
Michael Larson received a submission from someone he met at a conference 30 years ago.  While Cherry Weiner keeps a file on everyone she meets. 

Does motion-picture potential affect an agent's decision?

"Yes, although period pieces are expensive to shoot"--Ken Sherman.
"It's up to the agent"--Elizabeth Pomanda.

Can writers pitch to agents, who're already published under a small press?

"Yes, if you've retained the rights to your book"--April Eberhardt.
"It's the main way I scout new talent"--Rayhane Sanders.
"Don't make your decision [to go with a small press] in haste.  The 'any-contract-is-a-good-contract' is a false assumption"--Kate McKean.
"I would rather publish the next book than the one that's already published"--Lauren Abramo.

Should writers send out multiple or single queries?

"Multiple"--just about everyone on the panel.

Is there a way to speed up the publication process--especially if the author is elderly?

"You can't think like that!  I represent authors in their 70s & 80s"--Cherry Weiner.
"Mulitple submissions help"--(I can't remember who said this one).

Is there a best time during the year to submit?

"January--New Year Resolutionists"--April Eberhardt.
"Your timetable is ours"--Christina Ward.
"Check tye agent's site and activity calendar"--Gordon Warnock.
"A bad time to submit is when you're ready to go on vacation"--(can't remember who said this either).

If you establish a relationship with an agent on a book in one genre, then write a book in another genre, would you submit to another agent?

"Check with your current agent, because they're trying to build your career"--Rubin Pfeffer.

How has the collapse of Borders affected publishing?

"Penguin cut back 1/3 of it's first-print runs"--Kate McKean.
"I lost 600 outlets for my books"--Bob Dugoni.  (Hey!  He's not an agent!  But his point was well taken).

What's hot?

"Historical fiction, steam punk, cozy mystery, contemporary romance and paranormal"--just about everyone on the panel.

Is it a good idea to pitch an unfinished book?

"Don't do it!  But it's okay [here] at a conference, because it's a learning process"--Amy Boggs.
"Give your work to trusted writer friends to critique"--Rayhane Sanders.

And finally...

What is the impact of digitilization of books?

"We're all learning"--just about everyone.
"This may be a 'Plan-B' for writers, which may become 'Plan-A' in the intdeterminant future"--April Eberhardt.

Agents bidding a fond farewell to this year's PNWA Conference.
(Image from:  Get Smart, the movie)

The key point to remember is:  Once you sign-on with an agent, they'll work on your behalf to open all the doors necessary to get your work published. 

Just like Maxwell Smart.

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