Monday, March 2, 2015

Christina Hollis - Do You Need an Agent?

Please welcome Christina Hollis to the blog today!

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The obvious answer to that question is no. Writers have so many options now. Some big publishers have started offering open sessions, when they ask people who don’t have agents to make submissions. You can self-publish your work, and keep all the profit.  So why sacrifice 15% of your writing income to a literary agent? Surely it’s a luxury you can do without? To date, I've sold three million novels (including my latest release, His Majesty’s Secret Passion), hundreds of non-fiction articles, and loads of short stories, all without an agent—so it can be done. The problem is, there’s a price—and I’m not talking wholly about money. If your aim is publication, writing a book is only the start. You then have to get it published. Whether you do this yourself, or you’re taken up by a publishing house, you’ll also have to get out there and sell it. The days are long gone when you handed your manuscript over to a third party then sat back, waiting for the money to roll in. 

Without an agent, get ready to spend  hours online, checking out which publishers are buying in your genre. You'll need to read the type of books on their lists, and target your submissions. If you’re a self-publisher, you’ll need to liaise with professional editors and cover artists to make sure you do justice to your work.

Once you’re published, by whatever means, your book must hit the real and virtual marketplaces. All this eats into time you should be using to write your next book. Most people have to fit their writing around their day job. Which would you rather do in your precious free time—write, or trawl the net in the name of research, getting distracted by the lure of social media every step of the way?

This is where literary agents, with their ready-made networks, earn their money. They take much of the non-writing stuff off your shoulders. They've  also got the inside track on current market trends. A lot of writers recoil from phrases like that, which is where agents score. They’re dedicated business people, who know who's buying, and exactly what those potential buyers are looking for. On the other side of the equation, publishers use literary agents as a shortcut—the first stage in quality control. A publisher may be more likely to check out your project if it’s already been vetted by a reputable agent. 

Once a publisher says yes, the horse-trading starts. Most writers are loners. Can you honestly say you'd feel happy negotiating the best terms for your contract, if you've never done it before? Professional bodies such as The Society of Authors will vet contracts for you if you're a member, but that takes time to arrange. And if this is your first book, can you really see yourself getting the best deal over publicity arrangements, tour dates, extending deadlines when necessary and sorting out foreign editions and rights? Really?

Writing is a lonely business. A good agent is a supporter, and that’s a great feeling. It takes the pressure off, knowing that someone is taking care of business. It gives you the chance to get the "creative" back into your "creative writing". 

To return to what I wrote at the beginning: yes, I might have sold three million books without the benefit of an agent. But how many more books would I have managed to write if I'd had an expert on hand to help me target my work and do all the paperwork, while I got on with the fun stuff?
Have you got an agent? What are your experiences?

About Christina
I live deep in the English countryside. I met my husband on a blind date, and during a career break to raise our family I wrote non-fiction articles and award-winning short stories for national magazines, to fit in with my parenting timetable.
My first full length novel, Knight’s Pawn, was an historical romance published by Harlequin Mills and Boon under my pen name of Polly Forrester. Then in 2007, Mills and Boon published my first Modern Romance, The Italian Billionaire’s Virgin. Since then, I’ve written many full-length historical novels and contemporary romances which have been released internationally by various publishers. In all, my work has been translated into nearly twenty different languages. 


My current release, His Majesty’s Secret Passion, is available From The Wild Rose Press at http://bit.ly/1ujX5zc and Amazon at http://amzn.to/1zajHZA (US) and http://amzn.to/1DF99Dv (UK). You can find a selection of my other work at http://christinahollis.com, find out what I’m doing right now by following me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ChristinaBooks, liking my Facebook page at http://on.fb.me/1Ee1urM and following my blog at http://christinahollis.blogspot.com
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His Majesty’s Secret Passion by Christina Hollis



Available from: http://amzn.to/1DF99Dv

Blurb:
Leo Gregoryan is determined to be the perfect king. Loyalty to his country means sacrificing his
own happiness, but he’ll divert the energy he once poured into his dream of becoming a doctor toward royal duties. All he needs right now is a stress-free vacation–no future queen need apply. Sara Astley escapes to the luxurious Paradise Hotel after she’s dumped by her partner, who then stole the promotion she’d expected. She hides her broken dreams behind a tough exterior. Her stubborn streak makes her a challenge Leo can’t resist. His special brand of hands-on persuasion seduces Sara into enjoying the holiday of a lifetime. Their fling can't hurt either of them–or so they think. Leo's focussed on being the ideal hero. Sara knows what she wants, and that’s independence. Then a revelation tears them apart, meaning things can never be the same between them...

Christina Hollis writes contemporary fiction starring complex men and independent women–when she isn't cooking, gardening or beekeeping. Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and she’s sold over two million books worldwide. You can catch up with her at http://www.christinahollis.blogspot.com, on TwitterFacebook, and see a full list of her published books at http://www.christinahollis.com. Her current release, His Majesty's Secret Passion, is published by Wild Rose Press.


One Kindle copy giveaway of His Majesty’s Secret Passion

Link to signed copies giveaway on Goodreads

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Thanks Christina! I've always been so impressed with the agents I've had contact with. Great people who are passionate about their jobs and the stories they take on. They sure have a lot to offer writers! There are so many different paths we can take. Finding the right one is a very individual experience.

What do you think? Agent or solo? What's the best path for you?

36 comments:

  1. I'm sure my books would've sold more. Of course, I write in a genre that doesn't tend to sell big anyway.
    Congratulations on such great sales, Christina.

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  2. My first three books (children's) were unagented. But now I'm looking for an agent to help me for the very reasons you mentioned. Fingers crossed!

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  3. An agent helps, but you've already proved they are not necessary.

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  4. Great topic, Christina. I think agents are extremely helpful for the reasons you mentioned. Even though I chose to self-publish, I still respect and admire them and their hard work.

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  5. Good information Christina. Agents may not be necessary for all authors but they are a great tool in selling stories to a larger market and larger publishing house. Some books are better suited to a small market that one might be building but some books you want a wider range of availability, imo.

    Time is so very precious and the time involved with marketing and selling books in enormous.

    Knowing my strengths and weaknesses, I believe in using tools that balance my time and skills--editors, cover designers, agents.

    I've read and enjoyed many of your stories. I really want to read His Majesty's Secret Passion.

    Sia McKye Over Coffee

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  6. Someone like me...who has a full-time job and is trying to make this publishing thing work on the side...an agent sure does come in handy! I'm just saying. :)

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  7. At one time, no one would have ever considered trying to write and sell a book without an agent. Guess we've come a long way (in a good way) so that more books can be written and sold. Congratulations on your current release. It sounds intriguing and great cover.

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  8. Alex - genre does have an influence!

    Beth - I'm crossing mine for you as well! :)

    Diane - there are so many great paths to choose from :)

    Shelley - me too! The agents I've 'met' are great people!

    Sia - exactly. Getting help along the path is of tremendous value!

    DL - agreed!

    Mason - agreed. It's awesome to have choices!

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  9. I like your story and it makes a lot of sense. I'd like to have an agent to get me more motivated. I need an agent with a whip in hand and I'm not talking 50 Shades of Grey. I'm talking get my butt in gear and they'll get me where I'm going from there.

    Yeah, kind of pitiful, I know, but I'm being honest about the way I've been. Not saying that an agent is the magic cure-all as I've heard plenty of bad agent stories.

    Guess I'm just thinking out loud. Thanks for getting my gears churning, Christina and thanks, Jemi, for hosting Christina.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

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  10. Great meeting you, Christina. If I were targeting publishers, I would definitely want an agent because I suck at negotiation.

    Hi, Jemi. Thanks for hosting Christina. I enjoyed her post. Very real.

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  11. Thanks, Alex. The main thing is to write what you love.

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  12. Thanks for commenting Beth, and good luck with your search for an agent!

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  13. Thanks, L Diane, although I always wonder what if...!

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  14. Hi Shelley, thanks for commenting. It's a tough job, being an agent. I'd much rather write!

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  15. Thank, Sia, I'm glad you enjoy my work. And you're right—time is the most precious thing of all.

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  16. You're right, DL, it doesn't take an agent long to decide where (or if) they can place something. Trying to comb the market when you've got a million other things to do is another thing altogether!

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  17. Thanks for your kind words, Mason. The new freedom for writers is great, although with so many books on the market now, recognition is important.

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  18. Hi Arlee, the toughest thing about writing is actually putting in the hours and getting those words down on paper, or up on screen. Take heart—the people who find it hardest to get organised are often the most imaginative and productive in the end. Good luck!

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  19. Thank you so much for hosting me here today, Jemi, and stepping in with comments when I was offline!

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  20. Hi Carol, thanks for commenting. Negotiating is so hard—that's why I get a literary attorney in to vet my contracts. It's a start!

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  21. Congrats on selling so many books. That's impressive. And yes, it's great to have an agent to help with the business part of the writing. I think they're well-worth the fees we pay.

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  22. Lee - while I've heard a few stories too, I think there are many, many more fabulous agents than weak ones :)

    Carol - that negotiation process would be scary alone!

    Natalie - me too! :)

    Christina - thanks again for dropping by!! :)

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  23. Hi Jemi and Hello Christina!

    Great post, thanks for sharing your experiences Christina.

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  24. I've had agents in the past and would like another one in the future. Good ones know how to network and negotiate.

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  25. Christina, thanks for the honest summation of how publishing is today. A huge maze for a debut author. There's no easy way to get published and actually sell books, that's for sure.

    Hi Jemi!

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  26. Kelly - Christina's got some great stuff in here!

    Medeia - exactly right!

    Denise - so very, very true! So many choices to make :)

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  27. Thanks for commenting, Natalie. Once you have the right agent, they really earn their money.

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  28. Hi Kelly, thanks. It's lovely to meet so many like-minded people!

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  29. Thanks for commenting, Medeia. Agents spend their whole time building up expertise and contacts. Trying to do that when you're writing a book at the same time is a real struggle.

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  30. Hi Denise, thanks for commenting. I love writing, but it's hard to fit it into a busy life. Especially when getting the words down on paper is only the start of the process!

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  31. Hi Jemi, thanks again for introducing me to such a lovely group of people!

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  32. I'll be querying this week. Just have to put the final touches on my MS and then I'll begin. Hopefully I'll have better fortune this time.

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  33. I'm currently querying and firmly believe having an agent is the way to go for me.

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  34. What an interesting post!

    I am very lucky to have an agent who I really enjoy working with. My first book will be published and released at the end of this year (12/1). I have been on the writing journey for a while, but now that the time is coming to get ready to release the book- I know I am getting ready for a whole new experience. I am so glad to have my agent because I feel like trying to balance my day job, blog, writing, and everything else is already a lot and I know more is coming. All good things, of course. It is nice to have someone to do some of the things that I don't know how to do. :)

    Best of luck to Christina!
    ~Jess

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  35. Stephen - good luck in the query trenches!!

    Linda - good luck to you as well! I hope you get your wish :)

    Jess - that's awesome! Having someone to guide you through all those new and intriguing waters is a huge bonus!

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  36. Great post about agents. Thanks Christina and Jemi!

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