Monday, August 25, 2014

Helen Lacey and the Author/Agent Relationship

Please welcome the lovely Helen Lacey back to the blog today! Her new book Once Upon a Bride is a lot of fun! I enjoyed the plot, and the characters were complex and intriguing. If you're looking for an enjoyable romance set Down Under, look no further!

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It’s no secret that the publishing landscape is evolving and shifting at a mind boggling rate. For years there was kind of status quo in publishing – the author wrote the book, sent it to their agent if they were lucky enough to have one or sent it directly to a publisher to languish in the slush pile. Now, with the surge in self publishing and the rise of small boutique publishers, it’s an author’s market. We no longer have to wait for rejection letters or hope for a contract. We can do what we like, when we like, and as much as we like.

I was recently at the Romance Writers of Australia’s annual conference and it struck me that through all the hype and talk about indie publishing and how so many authors, including myself, were now what has been coined hybrid, I was still being asked the same question over and over – why do I have an agent? Why would I give a portion of my earnings away when I could do it myself?

I signed with my agent about six months before I got published. I’d wanted to be published with Harlequin for a long time prior to getting the call in 2010…it was over two decades of submitting and eighteen rejections from this one publisher before I sold my first book to Harlequin Special Edition. I’d had a book in submission with them for over a year when I signed with my agent, and within months on signing I was offered my first contract. True, you don’t need an agent to sell to Harlequin, but in late 2009 I realized I wanted one. Why? Well, writing is mostly a solitary occupation and as a writer who is most defiantly a pantser, and one who just wants to write and has no interest in talking or negotiating contracts, getting agent was right for me.

And that’s what I always stress when asked the question – having an agent is purely a personal choice based mostly on my personality. My agent talks contracts and deadlines with my editor while I get to talk storylines and characters and simply write my books – which is what I love to do most.

I work a day job and have to fit my writing around that, family, friends, pets and general life stuff…having an agent makes the writing part smoother and much less stressful. The important thing is to work with someone who is your advocate. Someone you trust. Someone who shares your work ethic and understands how important your stories are to you. Someone who will work at getting the best from your books and contracts, and also someone who will support your endeavours into indie publishing if you wish to go down the hybrid road. I know an author who has been with her agent for fifteen years, I also know another author who has had three different agents in eighteen months. Not every author/agent relationship will be the right fit. Sometimes you have to try one another on and see if you work.

Is having an agent for everyone? Probably not. But think about what you want…and then what you need and you’ll quickly work out if having an agent is for you and your career as an author.
Connect with Helen:

Website    Blog      Facebook    Twitter     Goodreads 
 
Helen Lacey’s latest release is ONCE UPON A BRIDE
Happily ever after…?

When Gabe Vitali escapes to a fresh start in Crystal Point, Australia, the former physician isn't looking for a storybook ending. For the first time he's living in the moment. His new five-year plan does not include serious relationships. But he doesn't anticipate his unavoidable next-door neighbor…and an undeniable attraction.

Bridal consultant Lauren Jakowski wants marriage. She's just sworn off love and sex! To avoid getting burned again, she's looking for safe and forever-after. But they're not Gabe's to give–for reasons he can't share with anyone, least of all this pretty complication.

Gabe and Lauren don't figure on a fairy tale. But fate has other plans…
For Kindle: Once Upon A Bride

Paperback: Once Upon A Bride

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Thanks Helen! Agents can certainly be wonderful assets for writers! 
It's an interesting time for writers and making the agent/self-publishing/hybrid/small publisher with no agent decision is an important one!

37 comments:

  1. Since I intend to stop writing soon (if my fans will let me) I doubt I need an agent. But you're right, every person is different.

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  2. I really enjoyed this, Helen! Congrats on the book and on your longevity/perseverance. I'm just the opposite of you. I signed with my agent just over a year ago, but since then have contemplated the Indie realm a lot. So much is changing. As you mentioned, this lends to lots of opportunities that were never there before. But it also must be approached with caution as well as the mindset of what is good for you personally as an author. Not always an easy decision.

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  3. Great post. I work full-time at a day job too so having an agent sounds like a good choice for me too. Congrats on your book!

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  4. Signing with my agent was a big relief to me, not just because it's the only way to get in with *a lot* of the publishing houses, but because it's a really good feeling to know there's a person out there advocating for *my* story, someone who wants it to succeed as much as I do. Best of luck, Helen.

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  5. Helen, great post. I like the way you spell it out about agents and how each author is different in what they need. Wishing you much success. Your book sounds intriguing.

    Waves to you Jemi. :)

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  6. I think agents are super valuable, and I have a great amount of respect for them. If I were to advise a new writer, I'd suggest they attempt to find an agent before going another route. I personally chose to self-publish, but I don't think poorly of traditional publishing at all. :)

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  7. I rambled too much and forgot to say -- excellent guest post, Helen! And hi, Jemi!

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  8. Oh my stars! How do Gabe and Lauren get together!?! LOL! What a brilliant premise - total opposites attracting! Love it! All the best Helen - and glad going "hybrid"'s working for you!! Take care
    x

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  9. You have to know whether you really need an agent or not. Some don't and spend years trying to get one when they could have begun without one.

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  10. Alex - not sure your fans will let that happen! :)

    Sheri - it is tough to decide and an informed decision is so important.

    Natalie - yes! Our jobs can sure get in the way :)

    Jeff - yes! having that supporter in your corner can't be underestimated!

    Mason - hi! And the book is a lot of fun! :)

    Hi Shelley - it comes down to individual decisions - and I agree, I think the agents I've interacted with are awesome!

    Old Kitty - it's such a fun story!

    Diane - so true - we have to all know our own strengths :)

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  11. I love that we now have choices! We're free to write the stories we love and publish them in the way that works for us.

    Hi, Jemi!

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  12. Great post.
    With regards to an agent, I suppose it differs from one individual to the next. But it's good to have options. Authors can do research and make informed decisions. We have to also keep in mind that the literary industry is changing at an alarming rate...
    Love the book premise Helen.

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  13. Hi Alex - keep writing! The fans won't let you stop :) Thanks for stopping by.

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  14. Hi SA - good luck with the roads you travel. Indie can be daunting but also really liberating. All the best and thanks for stopping by :)

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  15. Hi Natalie - juggling day job and writing and everything else can be challenging - but remember that old saying about how busy people get more done :) I think that's true. Thanks for commenting.

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  16. Hi JeffO - Exactly! Your comment resonates with me. That's so much for stopping by :)

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  17. Hi Mason - thanks for stopping by today and commenting :)

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  18. Thoroughly interesting post!

    As self-publishing is not for me, I shall defiantly be hunting out an agent. ASAP. Well, that's the theory anyway!

    Hi, Jemi :)

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  19. Carol - that's the very best part!

    Michelle - it's a great story! And you're right - options rock!

    Wendy - and you'll get there!!!

    Helen - thanks again for stopping by!

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  20. Thanks for sharing this great post. Congratulations to Helen Lacey and her book, Once Upon A Bride!

    Hi Jemi!

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  21. Helen, Once Upon a Bride sounds like a great read. I had a one book contract with an agent, and she couldn't sell it. But thankfully for the small publishers I do have 2 books pubbed and 2 more on the way. I've also thought of going the indie route.

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  22. Hi Shelley - good advice! Thanks for stopping by.

    Hi Old Kitty - they do get their HEA, but not before some serious emotional torturing of the poor hero :) Thanks for commenting

    Hi Diane - that's so true...some authors work better without one for sure. Thanks for dropping by :)

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  23. Hi Carol - yes, the fact we have so many choices these days is liberating. Thanks for commenting :)

    Hi Michelle - you're right. And I always suggest doing the required research and homework when it comes to getting an agent. Thanks for dropping by today :)

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  24. Hi Wendy - wishing you all the best in your endeavours to get the agent who is right for you. Thanks for commenting :)

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  25. Cathrina - those small pubs can be amazing! So many decisions! :)

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  26. Great guest post. CONGRATS on having an agent so that you can keep the writing process going smoothly for you. Since publishing is evolving so much, with many options to choose from, each author needs to decide what is right for them. Happy writing!
    : )

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  27. Susanne - exactly! And making the right decision means knowing all the options :)

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  28. What a clever up beat title. Great to read about your experience in this publishing business.

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  29. Great post Helen and Jemi! Thanks for sharing!

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  30. Lee - it is! Story is great too :)

    Eds - thanks!! :)

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  31. What a great post! I loved hearing about Helen's decision to query and agent and how her agent helps her. I love my agent and am so happy to have someone to talk contracts and things like that for me. :) Wishing Helen the best of luck!
    ~Jess

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  32. Oh- and I meant to add that I give those people who can go the Indie route a ton of credit for being able to do so much of the "stuff" that sounds tricky to me. Way to go! :) I love that there are different paths to the same place.
    ~Jess

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  33. Jess - that's it exactly!! There are so many great paths, and we can not only choose the one we like, we can choose more than one if we want!!

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  35. I've signed contracts with and without an agent, but I'm looking to be agented again. It does make certain things easier.

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  36. Medeia - agents do amazing things for the authors they work with! Good luck with your search!

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