Wednesday, August 06, 2008

When it rains, it pours. . .

Boy, what a difference a good literary agent makes.

I spent four years of mind-numbing frustration spinning my writing-career wheels and going nowhere while my last agent sputtered and stalled around the New York publishing world without a clue about how to sell my work. Since he was a reputable agent who got good book deals for some of his other clients I always gave him the benefit of the doubt, and believed him when he told me that "the fiction market is just so tough, Jill, and what you write is so, well, odd----the market just isn't there for you."

Well, as my new agent Lori Perkins has shown me in just a few short weeks of representation, the problem was not me or my "odd" writing, nor was it a matter of the market not being "there" for me. The problem was my old agent.

I am now up to my eyeballs----literally----with deals. I'm just waiting for the contracts to arrive in the mail so I can sign them. This has happened practically overnight, and after so many years of nearly fruitless frustration (only one book sold, to come out under my pseudonym this fall), it is simply overwhelming. My new agent has landed me so many contracts so quickly that instead of banging my head against the wall because my work isn't selling, I'm banging my head against the wall trying to figure out how I'm going to meet all these crazy deadlines in such short order when I a) am raising a toddler full-time; b) am preparing to move; and c) preparing an overseas trip over the next two months----the very same two months that are chock-full of crazy book deadlines.

Just as a sneak preview, thanks to my new agent's work over the past couple weeks I'll have several projects coming out under my pseudonym later this year with a very important romance/erotica publisher of both ebooks and print books (watch this space for the details, coming soon). Not only did my agent get me these deals practically overnight, she's asking how quickly I can produce new material that she can sell shortly thereafter. And that doesn't even include the rest of the backlog of stuff my old agent couldn't sell, which my new agent will be working on getting sold by the fall.

Ms. Perkins sure knows how to get the job done. Maybe that's why she's considered a veritable God among literary agents. Maybe that's why I saw several of my writer friends' jaws drop when they found out I landed her as my agent. It seems she has a "power agent" reputation for a reason.

Yowza.

It's 11:30 pm, my prime writing time. Gotta plug some more work into the rewrites I need to deliver to my new agent next week as part of all these new deals before bed!

(sound of harried mommy-writer running around like beheaded chicken).

Peace.

16 comments:

Polly Kahl said...

Congrats again and have fun...life may be way more overwhelming than it was a month ago, but it sure beats the last four years. Actually, it sounds like a writer's dream come true.

Anonymous said...

You will be making plenty of money off your books...You should INVEST in a lady to come watch your infant in your home a couple of hours a day so that you can have some time to get your work done....

Jill Elaine Hughes said...

Excuse me, Anonymous, but you have no right to tell me how to spend my money or my time, nor to order me to pay someone else to raise my child for me.

How about minding your own business?

Polly Kahl said...

Anon, maybe you didnt mean to offend, but how about signing your name next time? It WAS kind of jarring.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:20, don't assume that Jill will be making a lot of money from these deals. Often the first few book deals pay only a few thousand dollars, and it can take up to two years or more to be paid an advance, and royalties only come in a drop at a time after that. Contrary to your belief, a book deal doesn't necessarily translate to riches.

Maggie Stiefvater said...

Hi Jill! I followed a link from Verla Kay's forums over here. Like you, I have an amazing agent that's snagged a bunch of deals that will keep me very busy with my two toddlers (3 and 4).

And I get a LOT of suggestions from people on hiring nannies and au pairs . . . I don't want to have someone else raise my kids, so I just smile and nod. :)

Anonymous said...

After reading your knee-jerk, defensive reaction to the other anonymous, I'm sure not going to be reading any of your books. You post your business on a public blog and then tell someone where to off for commenting on it? If you open your life to public consumption, this is what you get.

Jill Elaine Hughes said...

I find ir amusing that the people offering unsolicited child-rearing advice and insults always do so without idenitfying themselves. At least I put my life out there with my own name on it.

Read my books, don't read my books, it's your decision. But telling me how to raise my children is totally inappropriate.

And Anon 8:58 is right. I;m barely making enough from my books right now to pay for a Chnese dinner, let alone enough to shell out hundreds of dollars each week for child care---something I consider an unecessary luxury. A big reason I became a writer was so I could have a career that allows me to work from home.

Jill Elaine Hughes said...

BTW, all the typos in the above are because I'm typing one-handed while I breastfeed my son.

Jill Elaine Hughes said...

Because of these comments, my next blog post will examine these issues in detail----i.e., how much money new authors really make, the extremely high cost of infant child care, and why so female novelists are also stay-at-home moms.

Polly Kahl said...

That sounds like a killer entry Jill, I can't wait to read it. And kudos for you for turning this neg exhange into something positive. You kick ass girl.

Anonymous said...

I'm posting as an Anon simply because the author in question is publishing under a pseudonym so I'll grant myself the luxury of the same. I don't know you but after hearing this story on another blog came to congratulate you as I am a published author, who, only after parting ways with my first agent, was able to finally sell that book.

I have to agree with the third Anon, though. I highly doubt the original Anon was telling you how to raise your child by suggesting you splurge on a babysitter for A COUPLE OF HOURS to aleviate your list of complaints of deadlines and moving.

Dear God, honey, if you are this outraged at a simple blog comment, you're going to be livid at book reviews. Trust me.

Casitgate me if you wish. I honestly do wish you success with your books.

Jill Elaine Hughes said...

I appreciate your comments and good wishes, Anon 3. I

didn't read Anon 1's post the same way you did. He/she said "you should INVEST in a lady to come watch your infant a couple hours _a day_". That's a nanny, albeit a part-time one---and something I can simply not afford. (It would cost $75 a day in my neck of the woods to hire a nanny for 3 hours a day; that's $375 a week).

And even if I could, I wouldn't do it, at least not right now. My son's infant years are too precious to me. Other mothers may make a different decision, and that's perfectly fine.

Re: book reviews, I've already been skewered in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Reader, and the New York Village Voice for my playwriting. Nothing new there. But what got posted here was different---it was someone invading my personal family life, something I have generally kept separate from my writing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your reply, best of luck!

Jill Elaine Hughes said...

anon3, would you mind posting a link to the blog where you heard about my post? thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hope this link works -- I can't make it live so you might have to copy and paste. I found you from the Verla Kay link, same as "Maggie." It isn't a blog, per se, but a message board for kidlit writers. The comments weren't dedicated to your specific situation, but in a much broader context of "if different agents can make a difference in a writer's career."

(If you object to your link there, you could ask the board to remove it, though I'm certain it was only meant as a "success story.")

http://www.verlakay.com/boards/index.php?topic=28789.30

(BTW, I think I'm Anon #4, not #3?)