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Sunday, 15 April 2012

An offer of representation from Trident Media NY

I was flattered to receive an email out of the blue last month from the prestigious New York literary agency, Trident Mediasaying that their chairman, Robert Gottlieb, had been following my success, and asking if I was interested in exploring the possibility of literary representation. I emailed copies of Remix and Replica, and then Erica Silverman, an experienced agent with TM, said she wanted to represent me.

I can't tell you how extraordinary I found this. On finishing Remix, I gave myself a year to find an agent, resolved to self-publish if I failed. I didn't expect to fail - I had faith in the book. Forty-odd agents and a handful of publishers rejected Remix, mostly with form rejections. Two approached me; some were complimentary; four read the whole thing. All passed on it.  Jane Judd said, "I have to admit to liking your writing," which amused me. Kate Shaw found my voice not distinctive enough. Broo Doherty told me books about rock stars are notoriously difficult to sell.

I would love my writing to go to the next level; a print deal, audio and more foreign rights. Not to mention film and television rights...what author does not dream of seeing her characters on screen? Emails between me and Trident Media zipped back and forth, and Erica and I spoke twice on the phone as she helped me get my head round what the deal would mean for me. They drew up and posted me a contract, which I read carefully.

And in the end, I said no.

This is a time of huge change in the industry. I don't know what will be happening next week, let alone in two years' time (the length of the contract). I do know I've sold a lot of books on my own, and probably made more money than I would have done had I managed to acquire an agent and a publisher in 2009/2010 when I spent a year trying. I'm going to keep writing, selling and wait to see what happens next. I have a lot of respect for Trident Media, and found Erica helpful and positive. This just wasn't the right deal for me at this particular moment.

31 comments:

  1. Good for you! Both for getting the offer and for knowing that it's not the best thing for you right now.

    You're getting a lot of validation for your writing an I hope that the best validation is all of us who love it enough to want to pay to read it!

    I can't wait for your next book to come out.

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  2. They noticed your success and wanted a piece of it. I don't blame you at all for your decision; in fact, I commend your bravery and level head. Best of luck to you with future books!

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  3. Hi Rebecca :o)

    FH, there is no one a writer likes more than a reader. Readers are the best.

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  4. Fascinating to hear this. I was just at alt.fiction in Leicester, where a panel of experienced writers said (more or less) that e-publishing is all very well, but that no author would turn down an offer of representation from an established agent. These are interesting times, and I'm glad you're making your own rules!

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  5. Mary, I think TM are being very shrewd in approaching indie authors who have proved there is a market for their books, and not just the huge sellers like Hugh Howey. I expect it's a strategy that will work for them.

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  6. Heidi, those experienced writers were just plain wrong. On Kindleboards, quite a few authors report rejecting offers from agents and indeed publishers.

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  7. Thanks for sharing this, Lexi. You're a serious inspiration for me! Well done on not following the yellow brick road, I honestly don't think authors of your calibre need it any more. Best of luck!

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  8. Thanks, Jenny.

    David, isn't it awesome how the self-publishing movement sprang out of nowhere in the last two years as soon as Jeff Bezos gave it a chance?

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  9. I think you made the right decision, but I can see why it was a difficult one to make.

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  10. An agent is what we all desperately wanted not so long ago - it was the first essential step of the process, so I was amazed to find myself turning down an offer. I'd have signed almost anything once upon a time. How times change.

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  11. Oh wow!! How fantastic! Well good for you!! You know what's best for you and your art and it's great that you are in control of both destinies! Yay! Take care
    x

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  12. Wow what amazing News, Lexi. Good for you to know what you want. If you've got this far on your own why give someone else a cut of your hard work. I keep thinking I should go it alone when I hear what has happened to you and other writers like you.

    Good luck for the future.

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  13. That's fantastic news, and also a brave and level-headed decision to stick with what's working. Yay Lexi!

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  14. Congratulations on the offer. Personally, I'd have let them have one book to see what they could do for me, to see if they could break me out. IMO it's like buying a lottery ticket in a contest few can enter. (Full disclosure, I once turned down Trident myself to sign with another, lesser known agency.)

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  15. Terrific for the offer and equally so for knowing what's right for you now.

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  16. How nice to wake up to all these comments. Thank you!

    Eric, I owe a lot to your example and advice about ebooks at an early stage - do you remember the interview you did on my blog: http://bit.ly/HNf9PA?

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  17. Wow! Lexi! Awesome! I am about to post you a whole (small) bag of fish and brown rice crunchies so that you can celebrate properly, exactly like I would if I was as talented and level-headed and BRAVE as you! My mum would have died to get taken on by a literary agent once upon a time, but I think she came up against so many stinky people she eventually decided it was a really bad idea. But if a NICE agent came along and said all the right things, maybe she could still be tempted. But after knowing what you decided, I'm think she might still decide to go it alone and keep faith with her own abilities, after all.

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  18. I look forward to receiving the fish and crunchies, Cassie - much more interesting than my usual mail. As long as Charlie, the dachshund downstairs, doesn't get to the post first...

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  19. Wishing you continuing, independent success, Lexi!
    K

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  20. Ah, so you decided to stay indie for a while more! :) Congratulations on the offer and your decision.

    It does seem like everything is in flux right now, so it's probably a good time to keep hold of one's rights and to avoid getting locked into contracts. Maybe in a couple of year, when the dust has settled...

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  21. Publishing is certainly interesting right now. I'm not indie on principle; if I'd had an offer of publication from Amazon like you did (and how awesome is that) I'd have said yes :o)

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  22. This just made me smile. They are coming to you now and you're the one making the decision. Wonderful!

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  23. Robert Gottlieb, eh? He's long been one of the biggest names in publishing across the pond, so he's quite a catch, even if you have thrown him back in the water.

    You've given the lie to those "experienced writers" Heide talks about -- the ones who say that no author would turn down an established agent. But that's the point, isn't it? "Experienced writers" can't imagine what it's like to be in your position.

    Without having seen the contract you were offered, I nonetheless suspect that you're doing the right thing, and for the reason you give: we just don't know where publishing is going next. In the absence of a megadeal, successful self-publishers are probably well advised not to give up any rights yet awhile.

    What do you make of the fact that a big agent has waited this long before contacting you? (Supersellers such as Amanda Hocking and John Locke aren;t comparable.) Is it just chance, or is the establishment beginning to face up to the unpalatable fact that "ordinary readers" might know a thing or two that they don't?

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  24. Thanks for sharing this, Lexi. It is one of the many experiences indie writers are relating that show the kind of changes in the industry. You're quite right that 2years is a long time, preactically an eternity in ebooks right now.

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  25. Iain One - what really surprises me is that I haven't been approached by a UK agent or publisher, even though Remix spent over eight months in the UK Kindle Top 100. From what I read about publishing online, there seems to be a lot of defensive complacency about. I think the US is ahead of us as usual.

    Iain Two - publishing is in a particularly fascinating phase right now.I may have been wrong to turn down TM, but we all have to make decisions based on too little data all the time. Much of life is a leap in the dark.

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  26. Fantastic, Lexi!

    You will be rich yet, one way or another. Maybe even filthy rich!

    Continued good luck and success.

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  27. However rich I get, Perry, rest assured it will never spoil my nice nature :o)

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  28. Good for you. Thanks for sharing. Really enjoying Replica, btw!

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  29. Thanks, bj - always cheering to hear a reader is enjoying a book of mine :o)

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