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Posted on Apr 8, 2019 in Blog, Writing

A New Agent!

A New Agent!

Readers who are familiar with the publishing industry already know this, but many of my blog’s readers are not familiar with the process of making books (making sausage is clean and fun by comparison) or are just starting out. So people may not know that for the past nine years, an agent has been the person to submit my books to publishers. I didn’t start out that way with my novels. I submitted both Dirt Cheap (my adult novel, which came out in 2006) and Gringolandia directly to Curbstone Press, a small press that considered manuscripts submitted by agents and submitted directly by authors. That’s the way most small presses work, because they offer small advances and the percentage an agent takes (usually 15%) from the author’s share of a book sale, is usually too small to cover the ink and paper on which a contract is printed. But the large corporate publishers and medium-to-large independent publishers are “closed houses,” which means they only take submissions from agents. The reason is that editors don’t have time to go through all the submissions they’d get if they were open, so they rely on agents they know to pre-screen the manuscripts for quality and fit with each editor’s interest and focus. And once an editor “bites,” agents take care of the administrative details so authors can focus on writing and editors can focus on editing. Because agents can get a better contract than an author can get on her own — with a larger advance, retaining foreign and dramatic rights, and easing the process by which an author gets rights back if a book goes out of print — agents more than earn their 15%.

Surviving Santiago by Lyn Miller Lachmann -- Cover imageWhen Curbstone Press closed at the end of 2009, I knew I’d need an agent for my future work, and I queried two agents for whom I had referrals. That led, in February 2010 to my signing with Agent Ellen for the book that would become Surviving Santiago. However, Surviving Santiago wasn’t the first book she sold for me. Agents often take on clients with projects that the love, but often those books don’t sell to a publisher, or they don’t sell right away. In the case of Surviving Santiago, both of us felt that Rogue, which I started writing shortly after signing with her, was a more salable project because it was contemporary and on a topic in the news, as Asperger’s syndrome was in the process of being reclassified under the autism spectrum as a whole. So Rogue, while written later, came out earlier — a strategy on which my agent and I agreed.

When Agent Ellen and I parted amicably at the beginning of this year, I thought about going directly to small presses with my own voices YA historical novel. But the beta readers (people to whom a writer gives a manuscript for feedback before it’s submitted) told me it was a big book that needed a big publisher to bring it into the world. So I wrote query letters to a handful of agents where I again had a personal connection — a personal meeting or a referral. The query letter offered an brief, enticing summary of the book along with a paragraph about my background. For an unusual project — a YA historical novel with an autistic protagonist, one of three who form a collective protagonist in the course of the story — targeting agents rather than querying dozens at a time made sense.

I am thrilled to announce that I am now represented by Jacqui Lipton at Storm Literary Agency. Originally from Australia, Jacqui is interested in middle grade and YA novels with international settings. She comes to agenting from a career as an intellectual property attorney, an asset to me as an author of historical fiction who uses primary sources, many of them I’ve translated myself, in writing my books. With this new agency, I feel I’ve become part of a community, and the enthusiastic welcome the other authors have given me since the official announcement last Thursday has reinforced that feeling. Jacqui is a graduate of Vermont College of Fine Arts, as are two other of her clients, Sharon Darrow (who also taught at VCFA when I was there and was my first workshop leader) and Monica Roe. I look forward to meeting and getting to know everyone else, and, of course, reading their wonderful books!

My welcome barbecue at Storm Literary Agency! However, we don’t all wear blue shirts.

Check out my new author page on the agency site!

I have one more round of revision, and then Jacqui will send my new novel to editors — the next step to making its way into the world.

14 Comments

  1. Congratulations to Jacqui and you, Lyn!

    • Thank you, Nathalie! I’m looking forward to the next steps!

  2. That’s awesome, Lyn! Congratulations!!

    • Thank you, Pam! I’m so excited about this new chapter.

  3. Congratulations, my friend! Here’s wishing you all success and good things.

    • Thank you, Maria! Likewise with your writing! And we need to get together soon!

  4. YAY, LYN! Such good news from a super-talented author with a giant conscience and a giant heart!

    • Thank you! I hope one day the book you read will get its chance too!

  5. Wow, Lyn! That’s huge! Congratulations on your new agent. You are so deserving! I’m so glad and thrilled for you!

    • Thank you! “Resolved to be prolific” is definitely a strategy, because the more that’s out there, the better the chance that something will find its advocate.

  6. Congratulations Lyn!! One of the barriers translators face (those of us who aren’t also authors, that is) is that agents tend to represent authors, and that means translators are still stuck pitching projects to houses with open submissions policies. That affects the amount of global literature that gets considered by the “closed” houses. If you and Jacqui Lipton, with your combined international expertise, would at some point like to weigh in on how translators can reach the big publishers—or how the whole system can change to be more open to #worldkidlit—I’d be all ears! Again, hearty congratulations!

    • Thank you, Avery! And this is a topic we’ve been discussing in the PEN Translation Committee. Basically, the only way now that major publishers end up with translations is through international rights agents. The UK Book Trust was established to highlight to major publishers books that should be translated, and the new SCBWI Translation Award is doing the same thing through the showcase to editors. But another big obstacle in kidlit that doesn’t exist as much with adult publishers is the scarcity of small presses and the obstacles they face in getting their books into the hands of readers.

  7. Wonderful news about a terrific author. Indeed the writing-revising-submitting-publishing journey is a step by step journey. All best wishes and congratulations on a big important step, Nancy Bo Flood

    • Thank you! I wanted to explain this for my family members who aren’t big readers and not familiar with the publishing industry. Nevertheless, when my mother read it, she called me to ask, “What?”

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