Now with representation…

We interrupt Friday’s regularly scheduled hero fiction appreciation (which I wasn’t even able to come up with this week anyway, as I’ve had my nose in my own book and haven’t gotten a whole lot of fiction myself, except for Dean, and we just talked about him the other day and I’m sure SOME of you [cough]Kait, Cher[cough] could deal with a weekly Dean segment, but…I digress) to bring you the following update on the writing life of me.

I’m now represented by Jane Dystel of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management.

So, yeah, it’s been one of those exciting yet surreal weeks for me. A lot of this post is going to be about why I wanted an agent because I know there’s some sentiment that we don’t need them. Personal choice. You know that my friend and crit partner Kait is indie an has an agent. She’ll eventually have work both traditionally and self-published. The plans that she and her agent are making for her career make absolute sense for what she wants and it seems to be a beautiful arrangement. My friend Zoe is fiercely independent. She loves the business aspects of this job at least as much as she loves the writing. She thrives on it and doesn’t want to give any of that over to someone else. Totally valid and I totally get where she’s coming from. There’s no right answer.

I have been very interested in representation for last few months, ever since I had that incident of interest in the translation rights that I didn’t know how to deal with. Advice I got from those ahead of me was to get an agent, but of course I had no idea whom to approach. I think there’s been this clear feeling in the indie community that the industry sees us as damaged goods and no one wants to pick up a used commodity. (Actually, I read that, with nicer words, on an agent’s blog once.) Weird, huh? Clearly that’s changing, and like the rest of the changes that are going on around us, it’s changing fast.

But I couldn’t tell who was interested in representing self-published authors, and couldn’t find help to figure it out. So it’s one of the many things I just let go as too complicated for the moment, even though I have very much felt that I’m at a point where I could use the guidance of people with more experience than I have.

Honestly you guys, we’re all monumentally busy, and it just keeps going. What did Amanda say recently? “I do not want to spend 40 hours a week handling e-mails, formatting covers, finding editors, etc. Right now, being me is a full-time corporation.” Bless her heart, I can only imagine. But really, isn’t being you a full-time job already? A huge part of my trouble this year has been in trying to take my already inefficiently-run life and suddenly trying to shove a full-time author/publisher/book-marketer/manager career into that.

My daughter made a calendar in school last year. It was one of those Home Depot kid projects they do on Saturdays, but they do a lot of those in the class my daughter was in last year. Anyway, it’s a perpetual calendar with blocks you turn to show the date. It sits on my stove. One day this winter I looked at that calendar and it said August 2, 2010.

The date I first uploaded Hush Money.

The date that time stopped.

Or at least that I stopped being able to focus on stuff in my home. Susan, you just signed with an awesome literary agent, what are you going to do next? Scrub my bathroom. That’s what I did this week. I gave my bathroom some quality time. I washed the walls and the baseboards. I’m going to have to re-caulk. And I’m going to have to figure out a way to do everything I need to do. And unlike a lot of you guys, I don’t even have a 9-5 job I have to do 40 hours a week. (Really, did I mention I’m inefficient?)

I’ve wanted someone who could be there when questions like this foreign rights stuff come up, so I wouldn’t have to waste a couple days with Google and then another day with an attorney–only to have nothing come of it! I’m going to want sound editorial advice on this book I’m working on, and I don’t want to waste time trying to figure out whom to hire for that. I think we’ll [indies will] get to a point where we have reputable editors for hire, but I don’t know who they are now. It seems like so many of the writers I know are so monumentally busy they’ve hardly got a brain cell to spare these days to answer questions for me, let alone read a scene and tell me why it sucks. I love the idea of having someone to go to with this stuff, and someone who has an interest such that I don’t have to feel like I’m just sucking their time.

So anyway, last week Jane sent me an email and then we spoke on the phone. I have to tell you that “the call” was kind of a series of brain mines, followed by an aftermath of disbelief and the certainty that there would be a phone call from a receptionist informing me of some unfortunate error. I mean, guys, I’m just now getting to the point where I can start paying my credit card bill with my royalties instead of hoarding the royalties in the bank in case someone calls to tell me about an unfortunate accounting error and demands them back.

My serious issues aside, a huge thrill in all this is that I love to learn, and I am so excited about the opportunity to learn from someone with this much experience in the industry. That’s freakin’ awesome! Some people are pretty negative about different editorial perspectives, you know? They feel like they’re being told what to do and forced into this and that. I know that my own perspective is very narrow and that I don’t see everything. I love it when a fresh opinion opens me up to thinking about something in a way it wouldn’t have occurred to me to think before. At the end of the day I may not change the work, but I’ll know that I covered another angle in terms of looking at it and that that was an informed decision.

The opportunity to discuss my work with experienced people who actually have time and give a shit about it? That’s an opportunity I absolutely want and am very excited about.

I love that Jane contacted me. I understand how the query process came to be how it is, but eep, it’s rough. Being thrown out of the running for a novel on the basis of not being able to write a stand-out letter is something I think a lot of us are uncomfortable with regarding things as they stand now. I’m hoping that we’ll continue see more agents willing to scout.

Anyway, sorry this is long, but as far as my thoughts on the whole business, you guys really got short version. Trust me.


Filed under writing

32 responses to “Now with representation…

  1. Stacey Wallace Benefiel

    Yay! Congratulations! That is awesome.

  2. Are you accepting applications for faithful lackey? I’m willing to relocate.

  3. Congratulations! What a wonderful moment, and one that you should savor.

  4. Claire

    AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHASDfa;weirjafksjdf;alskdfj a;kwth;awn g,!!!!!1!!!alsdkjf;as


    …well, okay, no. I mean, I know I knew all this already, but…oh crap. Here it comes again:




    You have worked so hard, and your mind is so utterly crazy-wonderful. I cannot WAIT to see where this new direction in your writerly career takes you. You are gonna rock the world, sweetcakes.


  5. Congratulations on this awesome milestone!

  6. Congratulations, Susan! I’m so very happy for you. I’ll tell you, one of the reasons I want to get a nook or kindle or such is so I can get your books more easily. I’m looking forward to reading more about Heather, and I hope she got that bit worked out with her friend/crush. All the best to you.

  7. Heather Hildenbrand

    CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!! woohooo!!!

  8. Peter Saint-Clair


  9. kerrymeacham

    Very Cool Susan. Congratulations.

  10. Just…wow. I’m so happy for you! I know that this is a great thing for you and it will allow you more time to write, knowing that you have someone to take care of other things.

    I’m kind of like Zoe…I like the business end of things. In fact, this is the first year I relinquished “control” and let my best friend, who’s a tax accountant, do my taxes. I always do them myself. But this year, when she offered, I said yes. It took her about a quarter of the time it took me because she has awesome software. :0) I’m just a control freak, and have trouble letting others help me.

    Having an agent isn’t for everyone, but I’m so glad that you feel good about having one. Also, I think that because agents are actually looking for indie authors, it shows that we are finally beginning to be taken more seriously. And isn’t it about time?

    Congratulations, Susan. You deserve this!

  11. I’m not going to waste everyone’s time and inbox space replying individually today because it’s mostly all the same. I just want you all to know how much I appreciate your kind words and congratulations (not to mention the use of the sharing buttons today, wow).

    @Andrew, there will always be a place for you at SusanCorp. Likely it will be sitting on the couch watching Buffy with me, and we’ll never get anything done.

  12. Congratulations – that is such wonderful news!!

  13. Cher Dawn


    Awesome. Congrats.

    Loved reading this too. I am sooo there with you. I love the idea of having an agent to go to for advice and guidance. It’s just too hard to get from other writers and sources (with the exception of a few who are gracious enough to share their stories with us) from such varied opinions, belief systems and experience levels.

    Yay you!

  14. Cher Dawn

    Had to set aside a separate comment to chuckle at your opening lines here because, YOU RIGHT! A Dean moment every week. Bring it. Also? The new season starts tonight. SQUEEEEEEEE!!!

    • They start TV seasons in April now? The world is so different from how it was in my day… Enjoy. I’ll be waiting for DVD.

      • There is no sense, rhyme or reason to how they schedule TV shows now. They all take some kind of like weird, mid-season break for a month and it’s never clear about what’s what. If I didn’t have DVR I’d miss EVERYTHING.

        And of course, we’ve already discussed this, but CONGRATS and additional squee. I know this is a load off in a lot of ways. 😀 Brave new world!

  15. Congratulations! I hope it goes exactly how you want it. Good vibes. 😀

  16. Congratulations! Dystel & Goderich was on my short list of agents when I was querying agents.

  17. Pingback: Daring To Imagine A Different Life (House) | Kait Nolan

  18. Wonderful news! I think your thoughts on the whole “should an indie be represented” topic are totally in alignment with my own. I’m just starting out here and I already have a full time job competing for my time and energy. I’d love to have a helping hand for the stuff I might be interested in but, let’s face it, I don’t really understand :p

    Congrats again!

  19. Yippee!! Congratulations, champagne and confetti!!

  20. Wow, Susan–what exciting news! Congratulations!

  21. Congratulations! That is awesome news and can’t wait to see what blossoms from it.

  22. Congratulations Susan. 😀

  23. Susan!!!

    Gah! I just saw this! Congratulations! I’m *so* happy for you! More sentences here where I can use too many exclamation points!!! LOL!

    *hugs and happy dancing*

  24. Gene Lempp

    Congratulations Susan! You did change the calendar right 🙂
    Sounds like buying back a part of your freedom allows for more independence. In the long term it seems that being on both sides of the fence, traditional and indie is the best way to go. The real purpose is to reach readers.

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