Monday, November 21, 2011

On Agents--a discussion with Louise Fury

A few months ago I had the pleasure of having coffee with literary agent Louise Fury, whose refreshing attitude toward the publishing industry immediately had me perking up. Thank you, Louise, for stopping by my blog today and answering some of the questions I wish I'd had answered way back when I was first starting out.

When you receive submissions, what sort of stories are you tired of seeing?

The same old vampire tales and things that have been done to death. I am looking for “fresh” takes on old tales, beautiful imagery and well-crafted dialogue.
What are some things queriers do that elicit a "hell no" reaction from you?
I am going to be very honest and tell you that it is rare that I read past any first paragraphs that start with someone waking up or dreaming. I read tons of submissions a day and at least eight or nine of them start with someone waking up. It has been and continues to be done to death! The beginning of your story doesn’t always start at the beginning of the day. It starts at THE BEGINNING of the story! The moment/s leading up to the event/person/etc. that everything changed. If you can’t find a unique and creative way to start, I question your instincts and creativity.
I don’t appreciate photographs of yourself, I delete unsolicited attachments and I don’t need to know about your personal life or family. I only care about your work, your experience and the story you are trying to get me to read.
What can authors do to make your life easier?
Follow submission guidelines as listed on our website:
What do you, as an agent, offer your clients? What can they expect from you?
I bring to the table years of experience in the marketing and publishing industry, I brainstorm new ideas, listen to old ones, help with edits and structure. I make sure their work is ready for submission, prepare and send it to my editorial contacts and advocate for my author. There are so many things an agent does and it is not only about getting and negotiating a publishing contract. I cannot list all the things I do here, but I am part of a team – foreign/translation agents, film agents, marketing professionals, contract managers etc. I do not work alone, my colleagues and I work together and my authors benefit from the entire team. I also happen to be part of an agency that has been around for more than 20 years and is always adapting to meet industry changes and demands. We are very careful to evolve and we embrace change. Our clients know that we always try to get through the wall first. We were ahead of the pack when it came to the digital revolution and we continue to strive to stay ahead. Out clients come first and sometimes that means taking some heat for being the first to adapt to change, but we don’t mind, because this is an ever-changing industry and we will always make sure to move forward.
Bad agents, they're out there. What are the warning signs authors should look out for when encountering these entities?
Don’t pay anything up front for representation.
Know the industry. Don’t listen to gossip. Do your research and you won’t have to worry. The warning signs are always different, but if you have done your research, it should not be a problem. Not all agents are created equal and not all agent/author relationships work out. But it is not always the agent or author’s fault. Sometimes personalities clash. Be careful of rumors because just as you could easily sign with someone who might be considered “bad,” you could also pass up someone good based on false facts.
Follow Louise on Twitter @louisefury or at her blog:

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