About a year ago, I was delighted to announce here that I’d joined the Salkind Agency as a freelance literary agent, and to share my excitement with you about this second act in my career.
Well, now it’s time to, uh, announce my third act. I’m starting to think this could be an annual event.
I am stepping away from the agency and from being an agent. This has nothing to do with the agency, which is headed by the indomitable Neil Salkind, who is, and remains, my personal agent and an all-around good guy.
It has to do with agenting.
The decision has been a long time in coming – I realized fairly early on that agenting probably wasn’t going to be my forever home, as they say – but in many ways, my most recent experience of selling a good book to a good publisher crystallized for me why I am not interested in continuing in this role.
Let me explain. The book is one that will be penned by a good friend of mine. Because she’s a good friend, I had a chance to help her shape her idea from its inception through its proposal to its sale. It was possible for me to do that with her, because of our long-standing relationship, but there’s no way I could do that for all of my clients, and still sell enough books to make a living—especially considering how tough the market is right now, and how difficult it is to get even a halfway decent advance.
For me, the purpose of becoming an agent was to work with writers to get from idea to published book. That was the primary attraction: I don’t love pitching or schmoozing editors; what I love is working with writers.
In practice, the aforementioned friend was the only client I ever took on who did not have a fully realized proposal at the time I signed her. I had to turn down any number of “nearly there” authors, simply because I did not have the time to work with them to get them “there.” Ultimately, that was too dissatisfying for me to want to continue.
I don’t regret my involvement with the agency for one minute. I learned more about the book publishing business in this one year than I had learned in the previous fifteen (and I thought I knew a lot!)
But one of the good things about being my age is the ability to see when you need to rethink a decision, and then do something about it, without having to do a lot of moaning and gnashing of teeth. I did my best, I helped a few people, I enjoyed learning what I learned; ultimately, it did not work out to be the kind of career I had hoped it would be. C’est la vie.
For the writers who signed with me, I will always be grateful that they took a risk on me, and I will always be very proud of the books we sold together. All of my clients have been placed with other agents, and I know they will be well looked after. I don’t take their belief in me lightly, and never did, and I only hope that someday I can return the favor.
Going forward, I will continue to work as a freelance writer (some of you know I write romances under a pen name—I’ll be doing more work with that). I will also be doing some mentoring and offering e-courses as I’ve done in the past, and am glad to be able to offer an even broader experience and understanding of publishing than I did in the past.
Feel free to pelt me with questions, or wander off, or what have you.
Thanks for listening,