Sunday, March 28, 2010

No Really, I’m Big in Czechoslovakia

Getting published is hard; not laying asphalt on a city street in August hard, but nearly impossible in ways pouring concrete isn’t. Every aspiring writer knows there are generally speaking, two steps. First, you must obtain an agent, then that agent helps you get a publisher. It is also well known that getting an agent is just about as hard as getting published. In some ways, it is like having to do the impossible twice just to prove it wasn’t a fluke.

My first book was shopped around by my agent to a few major publishers and turned down. Then it started visiting the independents and landed with AMI. So it began its published life handicapped with an unknown publisher and virtually no marketing except what my wife and I could do. Despite this, a little more than a year later, Crown is doing remarkable well. It has hundreds of very positive reviews. It sold out its first printing, and has a consistent Amazon sales rank that beats most of the major published works that I tend to follow. Now publishers are making offers for the foreign language rights. I have received unsolicited inquiries from major houses in Spain, France, Germany, and Poland, and have received offers from two publishers in the Czech Republic.

But despite all this, despite the awards, accolades, and sales figures…I still can’t get an agent.

I had one. She was brilliant, but she left the industry before I was published. Since then I didn’t feel I needed one, but now with the advent of requests for foreign language rights, I think I could really use someone who understands this part of the business. I’ve sent out several queries listing the merits of the series and an explanation that I need them to negotiate existing foreign rights offers—what I would think should be instant money to anyone willing to represent me—and still I am being rejected. Talk about a tough industry.

So if you’re an unpublished writer with little or no credentials looking to find representation for your novel…well, maybe you shouldn’t have read this as it might cause an upsurge in creative writers laying roads this summer.


  1. This makes me a little angry. Being unpublished and a dustmote in the great field of authors, I read so much about the proper course of action, so on and so forth.

    Then to see your situation? What more exactly are you supposed to do? Editors and agents get upset about advice to sidestep them and deal directly with publishers, but in this situation, you're not being given much of a choice.

    I hope it works out for you, truly. There's a lesson to be learned from the throng of amateurs, like me, about how things really operate.

    Good luck to you.

  2. I can't believe you can't find an agent! They're missing out, that's for sure! I wish I knew someone - I'd send them your way. Good luck!

  3. Just wanted to post an update. I have found an agent to represent the Czech editions. I'm really happy with them. They have agreed, and we are just waiting on the contract, but once it is buttoned up I'll fill ya all in.

  4. That's wonderful! Congrats on that step forward! :-)

  5. The Czech thing keeps getting more and more strange...A THIRD publisher has contacted us for Czech rights. I'm glad we now have someone to send them to.

  6. Wow! That's amazing - and awesome!

  7. I was a girl, but clumsy things. I do not know how to cook, sew, above, ca. I have too insipid and tedious, but that's my personality. It's hard to change