On Bright Sides

September 27th, 2007 · 5 Comments
by Kassia Krozser

But for most writers even having an agent who does nothing for you is better than not having one. Apart from the kudos, having an agent is also a safety-blanket that absolves writers from the responsibility of taking care of their own careers. I’ve been most successful since I stopped waiting for others – agents, producers – to do things for me. But this gradual realisation has been a painful process. I wanted to be “discovered”, but was lucky enough to realise just in time that this was not going to happen. I decided that I wasn’t going to take no for an answer, and the audience reaction to The Agent proved that my writing could be enjoyed once it bypassed the hurdles imposed by the system.

File Under: Quote of the Week

5 responses so far ↓

  • Joseph Devon // Sep 27, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    Short stories can lead to acceptance in small magazines and literary reviews which provide writing credits which can be used to seek representation by an agent which can lead to acceptance by a publisher who then tells the author that he/she needs to build an audience.

    Why can’t those middle four steps be skipped? Why not just publish short stories online in order to build up an audience who would then be interested in buying books.

    I know it’s over-simplified but, hey, I’m a dreamer.

  • Martin Wagner // Oct 2, 2007 at 1:39 am

    Sorry for the plug, but more info on the play and upcoming film of The Agent, including sponsorship possibilities, are at http://www.pinterandmartin.com
    All the best, Martin

  • Clive Warner // Oct 5, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    . . . “I wanted to be “discovered”, but was lucky enough to realise just in time that this was not going to happen. ”

    – Quite so. Better to play the lottery. The only reason that most writers continue writing is that they are mentally ill. Writing is therapy for them.

    . . . “I decided that I wasn’t going to take no for an answer, and the audience reaction to The Agent proved that my writing could be enjoyed once it bypassed the hurdles imposed by the system.”

    – Exactly! It’s the same, I hear, with art work and the galleries. A fotunate clique gets 99% of the marketing and 99.9% of the money, while the rest starve outside the doors.

    . . . “it’s best for writers to take matters into their own hands. Take responsibility for your work and make things happen.”

    – Which is the reason I started my own publishing company. To hell with the gatekeepers; bust the gates wide open, I say. And if I can do it, most writers can.
    Modern design software such as Photoshop and Indesign allows anyone with brain cells to design a cover – to a better standard than much of the dross I see from large publishers – and to set up the book block perfectly. After that it’s a relatively simple step to open an account with Lightning Source, register with Bowkers, and become a publisher yourself.

    The book business seems, increasingly, to exist in its own fantasy world; it reminds me of the music business just before Kazaa blew a hole in the business model. Now, the model is completely wrecked and “Labels” are falling like the Perseid shower. Just look at what Radiohead have done with their new album.

    Most writers will be using Zimmer frames before they’ll get an agent, and under the soil before they get published. Better to seize the weapons technology has given us and storm the citadel.

    The book business has a small – rapidly vanishing – window of greed remaining, until new technology blows it out of the water just like it did to music CDs.
    I predict that books will move from paper to MP3, complete with sound effects and background music – and once that process is complete, will become just as easy to download, for free, from Bit Torrent, as any album.

  • Andru Hunter // Oct 5, 2007 at 7:56 pm

    I agree with clive and I have taken steps to produce my own books along with two other persons. We have formed our own Company Tk Waltz Publications and the first book will be out in about 4 weeks. We are so thrilled about this we have plans now through 2010 and lots of projects. No agents, no publishers just us and our books on line with Amazon. Alibris and Abe.
    I don’t need to be famous and really just make enough to get through. We set up our own deals and do all our own design, my daughter paints the cover art. So we are off and I would encourage anyone out there to buck the system write your book and get it on the market. Go for it it is your dream make it come true.

  • Deborah Smith // Oct 6, 2007 at 9:48 am

    Amen, fellow publishers. After 20 years of much-better-than-average success as a romance author with the big NY houses (and several bigtime NY agents) I switched to self-publishing three years ago via my own small press, BelleBooks, which I operate with three veteran romance-author partners. We’ve in the small press biz for seven years, and have proven that authors CAN successfully publish their own work. On the downside, the gigantic and tangled machinery of the wholesale, distribution and major chains system is definitely designed to accomodate the biggies in New York. It’s hard to get shelf space without paying the standard bribes known as co-opt money, and though the Internet is a self-pubbing author’s best friend in some ways, it doesn’t reach that vast majority of readers who still head for the nearest bookstore instead. When you can’t get sizable quantities of your books on the floor in the big chains, you can’t reach the average reader, who remains conditioned to look for your next book in the local Barnes & Noble. Only devoted fans make an effort to special order or check Amazon.com.

    Still, despite the obstacles to success, it’s fulfilling to write without the editorial meddling and haphazard gatekeeping practiced by lazy agents.

    In my experience with agents, they are far more likely to have the publishers’ interests at heart than an individual author’s. One of the worst experiences of my career stemmed from a battle I launched with a house that my agent considered her main bread and butter. My long and mutually profitable relationship with that agent nosedived quickly, and she let me swing in the breeze rather than seriously confront the Powers at the publishing house.

    With all that said, I’m worried about the future of publishing in general, large press or small. If technology turns books into digital entertainment, and readers start merrily stealing digitial downloads as they do with music, will all but the biggest, brand- name authors be ruined?

    At least a musician can still make a living with live performances; I doubt most of my readers, no matter how loyal, will show up at a club to hear me read my entire book to them.