Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Agented = More Writing Time (or How Internet + Me = Black Hole)

Tip of the Day: Spend $80 to get your studded snow tires on your car to ensure that it never snows again.

I didn't always want an agent. In 2005, when I was writing Novel #2 and querying editors on Novel #1 (bef0re I realized it was: (a) not good, and (b) without plot), I stuck my nose up at the publishing houses who would not dare to even glance at a query from me because I was unagented. I mean, who needed them let alone the specialized people in the industry to send my manuscripts to them? I could print out my own queries, throw some stamps on an envelope and keep my 15% when I got an offer for my books thankyouverymuch! Boo yeah! "Suckers!" I said about those agented writers.

Ha ha ha on me.

After about a year of this thinking and spending some more time on Verla's chat board, I learned the errors of my thinking. And there were many of them. Not only did I realize the benefits of having an agent to do contract negotiations (a language I will never speak), and their ability to get better book deals than I could get on my own, but I also learned that I could get some great reactions out of people by responding to them with, "Um, yeah, you'll have to run that by my agent."

OK, OK, that last part I only realized AFTER I signed with Chris, but the important thing that I gleaned is that agents do research on editors so they know where to send your book! Ding ding ding! Brilliant and important, folks!

This doesn't mean that I am no longer curious as to which editors worked on what books, but all that time I used to spend online and in books looking up editor names and what house they were at and their submission guidelines, I can now do something else.

I can WRITE!

I've heard authors say that a writer should spend their time in percentages something like (*not a direct quote; I don't remember who said it or the exact numbers, but bear with me here*):

Reading: 45%
Writing 45%
Submitting (and related research): 10%

Generally, I agree with these numbers and their application. Yet, before I had my agent, my own percentages were more like:

Reading: 50%
Writing: 20%
Submitting (and related research): 239%

You may notice some skewed percentages here, and I hate to admit that a lot of the 239% was because it was a good way to procrastinate on writing. I told myself it was an acceptable form due to its direct relationship with getting published. For as much as I suck lying to others, I am great at lying to myself.

But now that I am agented, I can't even lie to myself about that because seomeone else is helping me research where to send my novel! And what writer doesn't wish for More Time to Write? So now my percentages are something closer to this:

Reading: 40%
Writing: 40%
Emailing the A2A girls on random topics: 136%

As you can see, I AM improving, and all because I got an agent. Though I am recently repped, I already feel like this relationship will be more productive for me in the long run.

How about you? What are your percentages?

Deena, Miss Recently Repped


Emily Marshall said...

Interesting topic, Deena. I actually have never seen those percentages before.

I have no idea what mine would be. Maybe:

* Reading (30%)
* Writing (20%)
* Submissions (10%)
* Emailing/Blog Reading (200%)

Okay, maybe I have some work to do on my own percentages.

DeenaML said...

Hee hee, Em! At least we're honest! :)

Ghost Girl (aka, Mary Ann) said...

Yow! I'm not really sure I can bear to look at my percentages right now. But I love your discussion of the whole agent question. I'm facing that right now. Do I or don't I? The jury is still out for the immediate situation, but I imagine eventually I will get one.

Let's see...percentages...

When I'm working on a particular book, believe it or not it would be:

50% Writing
20 % Reading
5% Submissions
90% Online--BB, Blogs, email, etc.

Okay...the 90% might be underestimating it a bit...

When I'm trying to prepare to write...

20% Writing
40% Reading/Research
90% Waiting for the last submissions to garner some sort of response and fantasizing about a contract, book tour, etc. (Okay...again, I think I'm underestimating...)
80% Online

DeenaML said...

Ghost Girl -- I'm proud of you -- none of your slacking off numbers are over 100%! :)

Lisa Schroeder said...

These days I'm spending most of my time on promotion.

I wish I had more time to read.
I wish I had more time to write.

But I'm soooo thankful I no longer have to research editors and submit things!!!!

Kristina Springer said...

I meant to do this yesterday Deena but I'm stumped on my numbers. Is this strictly how our writing time is spent? Because if it was like how does your day go then 90-95% of mine is kids/home stuff. But when I do get time it probably looks like this:

Writing: 20%
Thinking about writing/plotting in my mind: 20%
Reading: 30%
Blogging/E-mailing you guys/goofing off on LJ/Verla's etc.: 30%

DeenaML said...

Lisa, I'll totally have to re-do my numbers once I have a book out and promo to do! Yikes!

Tina, see, that is why you're so freaking focused and prolific. Your numbers rock!