Sandra gets a word in edgewise …
September 16, 2009 | Written by admin
Thanks to everyone who's written recently asking when I'm going to blog again. We've had some great guest bloggers, and of course Chip is always so loquacious … er, I mean, informative.
Actually, Chip is incredibly generous and always urging
me to blog more often. I
just couldn't resist giving him a hard time and making note that it's
impossible to keep up with the man. Even when he does have a pain in
I'm finding that I'm frequently asked some of the same questions,
both in person and via email, so thought I'd squeeze in while there's
an opening and answer a few of them here.
I'll confess, I spoke last night before some 100 members and guests
of the Northwest Christian Writers Association in Seattle where I
shared a lot of this information. But, I happen to know the sun is
shining in Seattle, so I'm hedging my bets that most of those folks are
outside soaking it up while they can. Hence, I'm feeling okay about
WHAT DID YOU DO, SANDRA, BEFORE BECOMING AN AGENT?
of things, actually. Out of high school I joined the Marines. Went to
college. Worked for a couple of non-profit organizations for about ten
years. Then, I went to work in the marketing departmentof a large Christian publisher where I helped write marketing plans for
nonfiction authors. This was back when Christian fiction could fit on
one shelf in the Christian bookstore and the notion of marketing
fiction was unheard of.
Most recently, though, and during the decade before I joined
MacGregor Literary, I'd built a freelance business by writing articles
for local and national magazines, writing promotional copy for
publicity professionals, consulting on book proposals for authors,
creating marketing copy for local business owners, and producing and
writing monthly columns for local and national trade publications. I
also enjoyed a three year stint as a feature writer for Street of
Dreams Magazine, a premier publication produced for the local chapter
of national building trade association.
WHAT'S IT BEEN LIKE MAKING THE SWITCH FROM FREELANCE WRITER TO AGENT?
some ways, though the processes and pace are certainly different, I'm
still about the same thing as an agent that I was as a writer. Helping
to produce and present a quality product in written form which
communicates, entertains, and educates readers.
The deadlines I
negotiate are now hanging over the heads of the authors I represent,
and not directly looming over mine. Still, there are always plenty
other tasks at hand.
Where I once spent my time hunting down
worthy ideas to pitch to editors, I'm now hunting down worthy editors
to whom I can pitch ideas.
I love helping my fiction authors
improve their storylines, eek up the suspense, ratchet up the romantic
tension, draw out the emotion from their characters. I help nonfiction
authors hone in on their unique message and figure out how and where to
get the word out.
DID YOU GO TO SCHOOL OR HAVE SPECIAL TRAINING TO BECOME AN AGENT?
is, it doesn't take a certain set of credentials to call oneself an
agent. Though it does take a unique set of skills to be good at it, I
think. Organization, drive, instinct, tenacity, equal parts humility
and bravado. Personally, I'm glad I came to agenting after having made
my living as a writer because I understand the heart of a writer. I
know how hard it is to write well. And to write consistently. I know
the personal sacrifices writers make as they toil over the keyboard
while others relax and enjoy free time. I understand the disconnect
when friends wonder if you'll ever get a "real" job. And when family
members silently resent that you're working in your slippers when
they're schlepping off to punch a time clock somewhere. I also
understand the pressures of juggling deadlines, family commitments,
marriage, household duties, travel, and serving others. I've still got
tons to learn, and many areas of needed improvement, but I believe my
experience as a writer brings a lot of value to the table.
DIDN'T YOU CHOOSE A TOUGH TIME TO START AS AN AGENT?
Definitely. The last year has been tough in publishing. From canceled contracts to tightened staffs, we're all feeling it. Yes, deals are slower, and lower, than ever before. Still,
I feel really good about what I've done since Chip invited me to join
the agency a year and a half ago. I've added more than twenty authors
to our list, done nearly as many deals (fiction, nonfiction, memoir) in
both CBA and the general market. I've got some exciting projects on the
horizon, and I'm helping authors at various stages plan for their next and subsequent career steps.
DO YOU INTEND TO SPECIALIZE?
I've yet to put a definitive answer to that. I'm too curious a person to see restricting myself to fiction or nonfiction. Beyond
saying that I don't get science-fiction, am not interested in erotica,
and generally don't handle childrens books, I'm not interested at this
point in specializing in a specific genre. We'll see.
If you've got specific questions for me, fire them off. I'll see if I can figure out when Chip's sleeping or watching his beloved Ducks so I can slip in here again soon.
On my way to ACFW tomorrow. If you're already there, do me a favor when you see Chip and say GO BEAVERS!