Agents are one of the most important stepping stones that start you up the long and eloquent stairway of traditional publication. And if you don’t know what an agent is then welcome to your first day in the writing community, because you’re going to hear a lot of vague references to them throughout your time here. But to be serious agents are people that help you negotiate and sell your book to major publishers (distributors of books), with the best possible contract for you. And this process can take a lot of time, but it’s all in due course. And though this process can be time-consuming there is a way that it can be even more time-consuming in a much worse way, like a black hole except for authors and years of their blood, sweat, and tears. The term “Schmagent” is what content creator and author of the currently available Brightly Burning and soon to be released, The Stars We Steal (Feb 2020), Alexa Donne has called shady agents or agents that miss the mark entirely and should be avoided at risk of ruining your bounteous career as a famous and grand author. So what we’re doing today is being lazy and stealing a vid… Hey? what are you doing, I didn’t do anything illegAHHH…
… Anyways today we will be asking for help from the wonderous Alexa Donne who you should go check out, and subscribe to, also give the video above a like as we saw that it didn’t get much attention (all the necessary links will be placed at the bottom of the article). But we will be summarizing—Whats Jerry doing ba—AGH!!!
Help me! I’m being taken against my will! *bonk*
Everything is fine sir the operation may continue.
Thank you Agent Saxophone… *clears throat* Today we will be summarizing the above video into a digestible summary that you can use for notes, but we do suggest that you watch the video as to fill in your own notes and give Alexa a view, so she can earn that sweet, sweet YouTube revenue. Anyways on with the summary!
Dangit! Jerry ruined my Peppa Pig merchandise.
As stated in the above paragraph, a ‘schmagent’ is a shady agent, otherwise known as, ‘something to avoid’. But the trickiest question is how do you find out if an agent is, in fact, a schmagent, what are the red flags? Which, in case you haven’t noticed by the title of the article, is what we’re here to answer.
The first thing to note is that there are many different forms a schmagent can take, some more identifiable than others. We’ll start here with the most findable shcmagent, The Scammer. And these aren’t just your average Nigerian Princes, because they’ll take your money and do nothing with it but buy top ramen. Meanwhile, the Nigerian Prince is going to return our investments soon, right? Right!? Jokes aside, the reason this schmagent is so identifiable is that they ask for money, and if you see anything like “I need you to pay a reading fee,” then run away quickly and find someone worth your time, like our rich uncle in Switzerland. In case you don’t know how agents are paid, they get paid a 15% commission on each negotiation they complete for a story. Meaning that agents are making a total of 0$ before they get you a deal. Suggesting that most agents are reading because they like too, and want to release good books for others to enjoy, which sets them apart from the scammers who only care about money, and what kind of monster cares about money. Disgusting.
These next few schmagents aren’t as malicious as the scammers, in fact, a lot of them have good intentions and want to get your book out into the world. However good intentions don’t always translate into ability. So this is the aptly named, bad agent, the most plentiful, the hardest to identify, and arguably the most harmful. These schmagents are marked by an inability to negotiate a good deal for you in a publisher or even find you a publisher for that matter, and if they do manage to find you something it’ll probably be a really mediocre gig that’s about to go belly-up. Meanwhile, a good agent is someone that consistently sells books to the big leagues of the publishing world, and gets your books on those pristine and wonderous bookstore shelves. But if you do end up in a deal with a bad agent your life’s work could end up in the gutters of a publisher that can’t get you what you want, they can’t get people to see your book, and because of that, they can’t get people to buy your book. They just don’t have the proper connections or marketing team, meaning that no one will see the project that you’ve slaved over for what could have been years of work.
So how do you find these well-meaning dirtbags? Check their sales, and research them thoroughly, like a bad*** (don’t know why it censored boy, but whatever). After finding the agent you want to query you should always check their agent profile, whether that be on their own individual site, or the agency they work for’s site. The first details you want to find is how many book deals they’ve sold, and then how long they’ve been at it in the industry. Because usually, agents sell more books the longer they’ve been in the business, it’s simple math ratios, Time=Sales. And the time aspect allows you to identify the difference between new agents and schmagents. Someone under 2-3 years of experience will have very few sales because at this time they are more likely to be forging connections and getting mentored in the art of the deal. But once they hit the 2-3 year mark they should start hitting their stride with a steady income of manuscripts, and a consistent selling of those manuscripts to good publishers. But if you find someone in the 5 years and up range with little to no sales, or sales to mediocre publishers, then you have a schmagent on your hands, that you should immediately drop out of your hands, because they don’t deserve you guuurl.
Also, don’t think that someones a schmagent just because they can’t sell your book to a major publisher. Because there are some things that you need to pay attention to as well, no need to be a schmauthor. One of these things is the genre in which they work in most frequently, and most successfully. The example that Alexa used is a literary agent who has done mostly romance being handed a kid lit book. It just doesn’t add up. So keep an eye out on who they sell to and what they sell the most of.
There are also ways of finding agents through patterns, something that human brains are designed to find. Like agents that have a big social media following, but don’t actually have many sales. And if they approach contests but don’t sign onto any clients, or maybe they sign on too many clients and can’t get them all book deals, or they sign up too many clients and a lot of them mysteriously leave, because of “creative differences,” or some other cliche reason like that. But the main point is that bad patterns can mark that somethings up, and it’s best to stay away from these people who have these habits.
In the concluding statements of Alexa Donne’s video, she stated quite simply that it’s better to have no agent than a bad one. And the most basic things you can do is research your agents. But if you do want to dive even further into the authorverse then enter online or IRL communities of authors to get the inside scoop. She also wants you to trust your gut if something feels off then somethings off and you should leave. You’ll find your agent someday, you’ll just have to wait, and when that day comes it shall be a glorious one. *raises sword dramatically towards the sun as the camera pans to credits and catchy pop song starts playing*
Check out Alexa Donne’s channel by clicking here.
View Alexa Donne’s Amazon page too but her books by clicking here.
View the original video on YouTube by clicking here.
Have a nice time of existency by clicking here.