Saturday, February 7, 2009

Things I Learned at a Multi-Author Book Signing

Last night, 5 Maine authors congregated in Belfast at the Fertile Mind Bookshop for their annual Valentine's Day Gala, and I was one of them.

There were great goodies, wonderful hosts, and of course, super authors. As the 5 of us (from left to right), Kathy Lynn Emerson, Dorothy Cannell, Janet Chapman, LaRue Haynes, (the hostess), me, and Susan Vaughan, sat around the table waiting for the customers to begin pouring in, we chatted book.

What I learned is that agents call the authors they work for a stable. I was distressed by this at first, but upon further examination of the vernacular, I began playing with it. Firstly, if authors are part of a stable, then what does that make agents?

That's right. Book pimps!

Yes, I suppose I could have gone the horse route, where authors are called brood mares, but it didn't have the same ring with me. Hey, as long as we're not called bitches, I guess I can work around it.

I also learned that while one publishing house will give an author some freedom with titles and covers, other have the cover and title already complete before the book is even written. This is based upon what the author gives the agent/editor for their synopsis up front.

I wonder how such an agent would handle my books? What would I tell her (the agent)? "You'll have to wait until I finish channelling my characters to see what they want to do?"

I can see I'm going to need an agent who understands my work mode very clearly. It's my book, so I'm naming it and I'm having final say on what the cover looks like, or I'm not playing! Childish? I don't think so. To me, giving up your vision to someone else is giving up all creativity. If the agent/editor/publisher wants to write a book, let them, but to completely take over someone else's soul … well, it just ain't right.

Will I find such a person in the crowded book pimping arena? Boy, I hope so! But I can see it now. "Did you see what Mary Duncan wrote in her blog about agents?"

Well, if an agent doesn't have a sense of humor, I can't work with them either. This should be a fun, thrilling, creative and rewarding career path. If it's not, why should we do it?


Catherine said...

I think part of the difference in the analogy is that you said the agents work for the authors. Don't hookers work for their pimps and not the other way around? --Just asking, I'm not an author or a hooker so I need some clarification ha haa!
I would have to agree with you 100% on giving up creativity. You have "given birth" to your work and why should someone else mess around with it?

Mary Duncan said...

It seems you caught me on a technicality! You're absolutely right, and I'm afraid of why you know this difference ... ha!

But, they do sort of pimp out an author's work to editors and publishers, so this seems to be too gray an area, plus a bad analogy on my part. However, I did have fun playing it out in my mind!

Catherine said...

Too funny!! It's a great analogy!