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  • Writer's pictureMark Meier

Agents! Agents?

By Chuck Suddeth I have written stories all my life, but a few years ago I decided to write novels for publication. Simple steps: find your story, write it, edit it, find an agent. STOP. The simple step just morphed into a monster. Supply and demand. A few agents, lots of writers. Just write the best you can, and you will find an agent, I was told. I edited, revised, joined critique groups, and haunted workshops. The first agent interested in me gave me 6 months to revise, and then she would give me a contract. I was the sole caretaker for my dying wife. She took a dive for the worse. As I had no help, I was in over my head taking care of a dying person. I almost had a nervous/physical collapse. I was in no condition for writing. After my wife’s death, I sent the manuscript in UNREVISED without explaining to the agent what had happened. She dropped me, not her fault, I accept that. I quit trying to find an agent and tried small publishers. But I needed money, more than small publishers could provide. I tried to find an agent again. Success! An agent agreed to represent me. I waited. No contract. I emailed her—she said she had changed her mind, no explanation. Never you mind, 2 more agents agreed to represent me. No contracts. When I contacted them, they ignored me. I had joined SCBWI. At a conference, I talked to some experienced writers. They whispered, You are over 60. You are not agent material. While age discrimination is illegal, for writers it is almost impossible to prove. And I do not understand it. I plan to write and publish another 25 years. I plan to hit the bestseller lists. How much is an agent missing out on? I have found ways to contact good publishers without agents. Go to workshops, conferences, and join writing groups. For instance, SCBWI (Society for Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators) has opportunities to submit to good publishers without an agent, especially at their workshops. Do some homework and find medium-sized publishers who are selling books and don’t require an agent. Some medium-sized publishers are distributed by big publishers, giving you the best of both worlds. Twitter pitches give you a chance for a good editor to find your story. This is not to tell everyone to quit finding agents. If you are young, please do find an agent. They will help you with editing, finding a publisher, and signing a good contract. If you are not young, don’t quit writing and publishing. Besides, an agent may take you on and prove me wrong. Once I hit the bestseller lists, I am willing to let an agent have 15% just to help with contracts and revising. Till we meet again, happy writing to you. Charles Suddeth Twitter: @CharlesSuddeth Facebook: Pinterest: Tumblr: Facebook: Publishing credits: Mystery: Eighth Mask: Murder on the Cherokee Reservation, Library Tales Publishing, 2015. YA: Experiment 38, 4RV Publishing, 2015. Bilingual Cherokee/English picture book, 4RV Publishing: Spearfinger, 2017

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