Today I would like to introduce all of you to my fantastic agent, Scott Eagan of Greyhaus Literary Agency. Scott has a BA in English/Literature, a MA in Creative Writing, and a MA in Literacy. In addition to being a fabulous agent, Scott also teaches writing part time. The Greyhaus Agency is unique in that it only focuses on two areas, which allow writers agented by Scott to really know he understands the genre and does not see it as a secondary angle.
Welcome to Lady Scribes, Scott. Thank you so much for joining us today and sharing your expertise.
As writers, we are encouraged to watch market trends, but we are also encouraged to write what we know/love. How important is it for authors to try to observe and write to the trends of what is selling?
Successful writers always find a way to pay attention to what is going on around them. I personally don’t believe any writer should be following any trends in the market, but to stay up with the trends. Writing what you know/love is always the best approach any writer should take. The idea of paying attention to what is going on around you allows a writer to “tweak” his or her story to the needs of the time. Not copy, just tweak. In other words, if the romance industry wants less hot, you tone it down a little. If the romantic suspense market wants more crime specifics (i.e. CSI) then add it to your existing program.
In a tight economy, where every dollar matters to a pre-published author, how should he/she prioritize where to spend: conferences, web presence, online courses, contests, etc.? Of the options available to network/get your name out in the writing community, where is time/money best spent?
For unpublished authors, there is only one place they should be spending their money. Anything that will build their craft. If you aren’t published, it is a waste of time to dive into web design, social media, building your client list and so forth. Heck, you don’t have anything to sell yet. If you do need to spend money, I would say conferences are your best option. This allows you the chance to not only take sessions in something you need to learn, but to also get you around the professionals (editors and agents) to listen to what they have to say.
As for the others, let me highlight a few of them:
• Online courses – depends on who is teaching the session and how much time they will give to you. If the course is strictly lecture without a lot of feedback and interaction, I wouldn’t spend my money on it.
• Contests – Contests are great for two things. The first is fund raising for a writing chapter. I think it is always important to assist other chapters and hopefully they will help your chapter out as well. Secondly, a contest is a great way to get initial feedback on a project from someone other than your critique partner. Spending your money to “hopefully” get through the mess of preliminary judges, and then, “hopefully” get it into the hands of an editor or agent who, “hopefully” will want to see more, is not worth the money.
What are your top five triggers to pass on a potential author when you are going through your slush pile?
Top 5 things that will cause me to pass on a project?
1. Submitting a project I don’t acquire (obviously).
2. A lack of professionalism in the initial correspondence.
3. A story with no focus.
4. Characters that aren’t real.
5. A storyline that is a copy of everything else.
Where do you see the agent's role going with the growth of e-publishing?
I knew you would get to this sooner or later. In My Humble Opinion, e-publishing IS NOT increasing. When I say this, I am referring to Electronic Only Publishing. I do think traditional publishers are seeing the e-pub market as an additional tool for getting stories out to readers, but it is not a substitute. The supposed growth we hear people talking about are those options for people to “self-publish” although I prefer to use the word “self-print”. Sure a writer can get an ISBN number. Sure a writer can have a book online for purchase, but that is where I draw the line.
As for the role of an agent, if you are working with a traditional publisher, that agent will potentially be able to negotiate some higher royalty rights for those e-publishing avenues, as well as to expand some areas the publisher might want to tap into.
Do you think the boom of vampire and "darker" novels will continue, flatten out or go bust now that the market is so saturated?
I do believe the paranormal market is running into a bit of a rut. Vampires and werewolves turned into demons and angels. In reality, we are still dealing with good vs. evil stories. When the paranormal market was really big, I did think there would be a limit. Aliens shift us to sci-fi. Ghost stories have a dead person and happily ever after is tough. Time travel, was turning into a historical with an out of place character, and psychic stories were nothing more than a quick solution to allow a character the chance to figure something out. In the end, is it saturated? Yes.
Would you take a self published author as a client and what would you look at/consider before doing so?
This is a simple answer. I don’t care if you have been self-published but I will not sign a project that has already been published. I need to see that a writer has the ability to actually write in a traditional setting. This means the project has to be marketable and well written.
When does a writer know its time to find a new agent?
Honestly, if you do your research early on, you know what you want in an agent and you have open communication with your agent, you should never have to find a new one. Unfortunately, far too many writers don’t do this and just grab any agent.
If you do have to look, I would have to say it is due to you having a direction you would like to go with your writing and that agent simply can’t provide it. I had one writer that wanted to move to non-fiction. This was a good move to leave the agency. I had another who wanted to focus exclusively on erotica and e-pubs. Fine, this is time to leave.
Take the time to talk through where you are at and where you want to go with your writing. You can’t just blame an agent if something isn’t happening, if you haven’t talked it through with them.
What kind of project would you love to represent that has yet to cross your desk?
I am in a big search for two types of stories:
1. Big contemporary romances with real relationships, real people and not a lot of baggage. I want to see true love again and not a backlash after finding out the heroine is pregnant after the one-night stand.
2. Women’s fiction that really explores what it is to be a woman. I want to be able to learn about humanity through this story. I want a story that people will want to sit around and talk about. I want something Oprah would buy. Again, no baggage, and no psycho problems. Just a real person working through a big hurdle in her life.
Thanks so much for being here today, Scott, and for answering our questions. If you have a question for Scott feel free to ask it in the comments section.
He will be stopping by today to answer more of your questions.
Julie Johnstone, The Marchioness of Mayhem
You can learn more about the Greyhaus Literary Agency at http://www.greyhausagency.com/