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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Welcome Agent Scott Eagan

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For unpublished authors, there is only one place they should be spending their money.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/


  1. Thanks so much for a great interview. I learned a lot.

  2. Scott,

    Thank you for being our guest today. A male agent in the romance genre is obviously in the minority. I'm curious how you came to represent romance authors.

    Also, are there any craft books you recommend for your authors?

  3. Great interview! Scott, I'm curious as to what you see as the biggest hurdle for aspiring authors. The dreaded "tighter" market? Standing out in the crowd? Finding a unique hook?

  4. Hi Scott,
    It's so good to see you here today and this was a wonderful interview that answered so many of my questions. Since all of us here at the Lady Scribes writer historicals my question is what do you foresee for the historical genre in the future? Do you see any new trends springing forth in historicals and what would you like to see more of?

  5. Thanks so much for being here, Scott! It's great to hear from the other side of the business.

  6. Thank you for being here today. As to the future of historical romance, do you see historicals branching out from Regency London (which includes Scotland) to other countries, such as France, Italy, or anywhere on the Continent for that matter, and in eras other than Regency or Victorian? And, what kind of future do you see with regard to American set historicals, more specifically American Revolution, War of 1812 and Civil War.

  7. Thank you so much for having me here today. I will try to get to all the questions, although there may be a bit of a delay. I am on the road today to the Oklahoma Writers Federation Conference.

  8. Samantha,

    Good question. I had always been interested in publishing during a 12 year run of teaching writing. After the birth of my son, I realized that this was as good a time as any to make the shift.
    As for the romance and women's ficiton angle, I felt that, while there were agencies out there that did represent these genres, there were a limited number (if any at that time) that focused exclusively on it. Seemed like the right fit. Besides, I love stories that end with that HEA

  9. Samantha,

    As for the craft books, I think you can pretty much find any number, depending on what you are looking for. I do have one that I just finished on Marketing Your Romance and Women's Fiction Novel. That is still in the process of moving through the early phases of publishing. No date on that release but stay posted.

  10. Erin,
    I think the biggest hurdle is that of learning the business. There are far too many authors out there making, what I call, stupid mistakes. This all stems from a lack of taking the time to learn.

    I would also add that I think the temptation to simply self-publish is dangerous to new authors. There is a desire to move too fast and making a move with the wrong publisher/printer can ruin your appetite for writing as well as your career.

  11. Melissa,

    First of all, quit following trends. Write a strong historical and you the market will eventually open up.

    I do believe, however, that we are seeing a shift to some of the newer generations. With the move to Victorian's I think we will see things inching further into the early 1900's.

    I would also argue that we will see a bit more indepth historicals that have a bit more substance to them,

  12. Amy,

    I think I answered a bit of this with Melissa's question. As far as the different locations, we are already seeing that in some areas. many characters are using these different locales to experiment.

    As far as the Civil War goes, this is still a touchy subject for many publishers. While I personally love the time period, I do think the racial issues that cannot be avoided are too dangerous right now. Just my opinion on that.

  13. Off to board the plane now. Will get back to you when I hit Oklahoma and get settled.

    Ciao for now and keep those questions coming.

  14. Scott-

    Thanks for a great interview. I have kind of a different question-- how did you decide to become and establish yourself as an agent? Did you do a stint in NYC or an internship? And do you have any suggestions for someone interested in finding out more about becoming one?