Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Every writer’s experience is different

Here is Dean Wesley Smith today:

Simply put, fiction writers, when it comes to the very basis of being a fiction writer, toss all logic out the window and listen to people who have never written or published a book.

This goes on from the very beginning of every writer’s career. The one uniform trait in becoming a full-time fiction writer is that you must have the ability to unlearn all the crap. Unlearn all the illogical aspects of both the craft and the business.

Now I talked about much of this in the posts called Killing a Sacred Cow of Publishing or of Indie Publishing. You can read all those under the tab above or buy the books.

But let me give you a few examples here applying logic to some of the more illogical aspects of publishing.

— Agents. If you wouldn’t give your gardner 15% ownership of your home for mowing your lawn every wee, so why give an agent 15% of your property for doing even less work? Yet writers spend years and years chasing the opportunity to do just that.

… and I skidded to a halt.

I’m sure a lot of Smith’s points are accurate, or accurate-ish, or accurate for some writers. Even this point about agents is no doubt accurate for some writers.

But please. Do those of us who stick with agents the courtesy to imagine that our experience of the professional relationship might be different. My agent worked very hard to get rid of the noncomplete clauses in my recent contracts. She also got sensible reversions of rights for foreign and audio into the contracts, and in fact she wound up getting one publisher to double their initial offer for an advance. Worth 15%? You bet.

Well, click though if you want to read the rest. As I said, I suppose he does make some good points in there.

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3 Comments Every writer’s experience is different

  1. Adam D. Jones

    I’m glad you mentioned this. I’ve seen this repeated often, that writers should stop believing in the 15% lie, but it seems like business as usual to me. And I don’t hear of agents offering anything else, anyway.

  2. Rachel

    15% is industry standard, I believe. And I hear all the time that agents aren’t doing anything for authors, or are preying on authors, or are colluding with publishers against authors, or whatever. I hear this from … indy authors who don’t have an agent. (And, to be fair, occasionally from someone who really did get burned by a bad agent.)

    The tendency to believe that everyone else’s experience must echo yours is understandable, I guess. However, the apparent notion that some people seem to have that they have Seen The Light and authors who are following a different path are Deluded Fools is pretty common, and a lot less understandable.

    This comment is not meant particularly as a slam against Dean Wesley Smith, btw. I haven’t followed him closely enough to know whether he generally takes this YOU DELUDED FOOLS, JUST FOLLOW MY PERFECT EXAMPLE tone or not. But this particular post certainly seems to lean that way.

    My agent definitely earns her 15%. That’s MY lived experience.

  3. Adam D. Jones

    Hey, if they aren’t worth 15%, then, by all means, book your own meeting with New York publishers and hammer out a great deal with an editor. I certainly don’t know how to do any of those things.

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