Friday, April 24, 2009

Agent Buzz, Do We Need One?

The last few months, I’ve read various blogs and articles on well-established agencies hiring new agents. Some editors who lost their jobs are now agents. I’ve also read opinions from editors and others about how necessary it is to have an agent. And it’s true they now do the work editors once did decades ago.

 There is one article that sticks for me. The editor that stated if we are unagented and we send our work to publishers, the editors figure our work is not worthy. 

Now, I’m wondering if she speaks mainly of adult work.

If we’re paying attention, though, we see more children’s houses taking only agented work. I think with all the economic changes, which affects the publishing industry, we will see more and more children’s departments requiring agented only. Really, before the doom and gloom, we’ve seen this over the last decade or so.

 There is much discussion in my writer’s group about this topic. We’ve decided to work at acquiring an agent. Most of us will hold off submitting to publishers, because we don’t want an agent to think our work has seen the rounds. There’s nowhere else to send.

In saying this, I still believe there are a few (a very few) children’s houses that would rather not work with agented material. I have targeted one and do plan to submit to them after the SCBWI Spring Conference in Portland, Oregon. 

 Until next time . . . write away!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Harper Lee, The One Book Wonder?

Recently, I’ve thought much about the saying, ‘You don’t want to be a one-book wonder.’ I have a friend who had only one paperback book in her. Then she was done. I thought about who else had only one book.

Harper Lee, the author of "To Kill a Mockingbird."

Nelle (pronounced “Nail”) Harper Lee, to my way of thinking, wrote one of the best fiction books ever. I saw the movie first when my children were coming along, and then about fifteen years ago, read the book. Marvelous, gripping story.

I must say, if Ms. Lee never publishes another book, she has accomplished more than most of us can only dream of. She wrote from her heart. She wrote a story loosely based on her childhood. Ms. Lee did in her first, and so far only book, what I strive to in my stories; plunk the reader down in a place and keep them there for the journey of that time. I’d say, Ms. Lee did her job and did it very well.

Ms. Lee lives in Monroeville, Alabama with her sister, according to last accounts. She doesn’t care for publicity, giving only a sentence here and there of a speech over the decades. There is one account that her cousin, Richard Williams, of Williams Pharmacy, asked Ms. Lee the question all wish to know.

He says this, “I asked her, ‘When are you going to come out with another book?” And she said, ‘Richard, when you’re at the top there’s only one way to go.’”

Can this be true?

One other quote I found from Ms. Lee gives me hope she’s not done with writing. Even in her early eighties, she may be creating another story. A lawyer in Alexander City, Alabama, Tom Radney said, “I know for a fact she’s been working on another story for 12 years.” He loaned Ms. Lee his files on a case involving six deaths. Mr. Radney said, “She called me at Christmas, and said, ‘You won’t believe it, I’m working on that book.’”

I hope after all this time Ms. Lee will be able to give the world another story.

Don’t you?