I Have a Literary Agent But What Does That Mean?
A couple weeks ago I excitedly posted a photo of my contract with Credo Communications (and a photo of the steak I ate in celebration.)
Since then a lot of people have been asking me what having a literary agent means.
Writing a book is a crazy long process.
In fact, I would say my book writing journey began in 2011 when my author friend Jolene Philo told me to “Fork over the money and go to a good writer’s conference” if I was serious about this writing thing. (Maybe she didn’t word it exactly like that.) So, I found some change in my couch cushions and drove to Chicago to the Write-to-Publish conference where I basically learned that even though I had a B.A. in English and several years of newspaper writing under my belt, I was a total newbie. So. Much. To. Learn.
I soaked up all I could that year, and I’ve attended three more times since. – Once on a full scholarship from Cec Murphey which was super awesome. We’re pretty much buddies as you can see from the photo on the right 😉
I’ve also written and rewritten and queried and submitted a whole lot of stuff. And I’ve been rejected 3786 times (give or take). But I’ve also been published quite a lot. And I’ve built my freelancing career and made many writing connections in the past seven years.
A few years ago, I started praying for God to give me a clearer direction in my writing. I love writing about a variety of things, but I kind of felt like I was floundering. In fact, one of my repetitive prayer requests in my women’s Bible study group for the fall of 2015 was that God would give me direction.
Then I got breast cancer. (Not the direction I was going for.) Cancer Sucks. It’s Dumb. It’s Stupid. It’s Annoying. And all the other bad words you can think of.
But it was through cancer that God directed my writing path. I still write about a lot of stuff, and I will not always write on the theme of female anatomy, but right now, I’ve got a boob (or lack there of) focus.
I worked for months and months and months on a book proposal, that as I am writing this, is in the final stages of tweaking. Soon it will be ready to be sent off to publishers.
Which brings me to my literary agent, Karen Neumair.
A literary agent bears some similarities to a real estate agent. Like a real estate agent, a literary agent knows the ins and outs of the business and it’s their job to work for their clients to negotiate the best possible contract. But landing a literary agent is not an easy task. I have one writer friend who approached 85 agents before one signed with her. I’ve spoken with several agents over the past year, but Karen was my favorite. I knew the minute we starting talking in the Billy Graham Center of Wheaton College last summer that that she was at the top of my list. She was just so likable. (But did she like me? And beyond that, did she think my book proposal was worthy of considering?)
Well, I guess she did, because months later we have a signed contract, and I’m a little over the moon about it.
Karen is currently working with me to make my proposal the best it can be. (We’re so very close.) Then she will approach various publishing houses that she has ongoing relationships with and will work to negotiate a contract on my behalf.
Some people have said “Wouldn’t it be easier to just self-publish?” In some ways yes, but I have always known that I wanted to go the traditional route. I really like the idea of being paid to write a book as opposed to paying someone to publish my book for me. 🙂
Plus, traditional publishers and agents are financially vested in their authors. They aren’t going to make money on a bad book. So they will work very hard to make the book the absolute best it can be before sending it to the printer. I am excited to have so many eyes read my work, give me feedback and help me to use my words in the best way possible.
So that’s where I’m at. Signing a contract with Credo was a dream come true, but there is still a really big hurdle in front of us. Finding a publisher. What I’m so excited about though, is that I have this professional cheerleader of sorts who is saying to publishing houses, “Hey, this girl, Kim, she can write. You should take a look at her stuff.” Feeling valued like that is pretty amazing.
I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me. And there are tons of unknowns still. But I’m just gonna keep writing and waiting and doing the next thing that’s placed in front of me.
And when a publisher decides to give this new author a shot, Corey’s taking me out for steak.