The Career Novelist: A Literary Agent Offers Strategies for by Donald Maass

By Donald Maass

The occupation Novelist is like having your personal own literary agent in your bookshelf!

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Advances are down, too. So are royalty rates. In fact, some paperback houses are paying 2 and 4 percent to new authors. ) On the back end, publishers are demanding more. Why not? It is a buyers' market. "We must have world rights" is a frequently heard demand. Publishers are also seeking all electronic rights. On that issue, publishers and agents are currently at war. ) What about backlist, one's prior novels? Backlist sales are growing more important, but accumulating a backlist is hellishly hard.

Norton, Alfred A. Knopf, Harper Brothers . . many of the names survive today. It is tempting to think of this period as the good old days, but it was not. We know this because at the beginning of the thirties the National Association of Book Publishers commissioned an in-depth industry study. " It also pointed out that the industry as a whole suffered from greedy authors, too many titles, lack of list rationale, inefficient distribution, poor marketing, merger mania, a dearth of statistics, and wishful thinking.

So far, in my opinion, they have not been terribly muscular in advancing their collective lot, but perhaps that will change. Indeed, I can envision a day when category writers will together demand from their publishers a level of support commensurate with their worth. I want to be around for that. Meanwhile, genre authors enjoy 21 THE CAREER NOVELIST unique access to their audience, and can develop—either with their publishers' help or on their own—a relationship with booksellers through signings and readings.

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