Archive for May 29th, 2011

May 29 2011

A Literary Superagent’s Thoughts on Publishing

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

The Wall Street Journal interviewed Andrew “The Jackal” Wylie (of the Wylie Agency).  Here are some excerpts that I think would be interesting to prospective authors (and maybe some published ones).

  • “As a general rule, we find that while the strongest market is usually the writer’s home market, it’s roughly equivalent to the rest of the world. And increasingly, what’s important is getting the rest of the world right. Fifty percent of American writers’ sales should be outside the U.S. That’s vital.”  [Fun fact: Superhero Nation’s audience is ~40% international].
  • “We try to avoid people who can’t write. You can usually spot them from the first sentence, or from the cover letter. It’s a little like sitting in the audience at Carnegie Hall and watching someone walk up to a piano. If you’re trained, you can tell the difference between someone who knows how to play and someone who doesn’t. Of course, sometimes you want to work with people who have a significant achievement, which is not writing, and so that usually requires closer editing, and ghostwriting. Heads of state are not always the best writers.”
  • “Things are generally tough and getting tougher across the industry. In the U.S., publishers are continuing to pay advances at pretty much the same level as five years ago, but they’ve reduced the number of high bets they’re making… Each house has a large number of titles to publish, and with a difficult economy, fewer people to handle the publications. But publishers need to become smaller, leaner, and they will have to learn new disciplines.”  [Note: Having fewer editors per title gives publishers less flexibility to publish manuscripts that will require a lot of editing, so your manuscript is pretty much dead on arrival if it’s not proofread carefully, unless you’re a head of state or something].

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