Dream agents

Some writers really want an agent to work with. I understand all the reasons for desiring an agent, largest of all being their expertise when it comes to shopping your book around to their contacts in publishing, and knowing how to handle all the legal/contractual side of things. This knowledge, and much more, is unparalleled unless the writer themselves wants to do all the work of two or three people.

Many agents have an online presence in this day and age, and you get the amazingly unrivaled opportunity to get to know them and see if they are a “fit” for you. The days of querying unknown agents based solely on their other clients is quickly slipping away. I start to wonder if writers get their hearts set on any special “dream agent”, someone they’ve seen around, and think would suit their work and their personality.

Me? I don’t know that I’m at a place where an agent is necessary. Perhaps that will change in the future as I get more writing credits or want to push a larger project. I would not lament the insights of a talented and passionate editor working with me and sharing my love of my books. That would definitely be something special. But even so, I have no qualms approaching big houses alone if I felt I was ready for it (or rather, my story was!).

There are so many resources available to us now that even something like a writer’s contract can be poured over by the inexperienced and unraveled with the help of a search or two online. That’s not to say an agent isn’t worth their weight in gold; a good one who really believes in your work definitely is. To some writers, an agent isn’t totally necessary. To others, like me, an agent would foremost be a buffer between me and the demands of the industry.

With all that in mind, I’ve had my eye on an agent or two over the years. I love their personality and take on writing, but I don’t think my work necessarily fits with their other clients. Same genre, different style, so there’s no telling if they’d like my perspective on the stories. If I get to the stage when I feel it’s time to get an editor, I’ll probably still approach the ones I like most. They might be ready for a change, right?

~A

The problem with fonts

I’m a self-confessed typeface fanatic. Being both a writer and a visual artist, the appearance of fonts means a lot to me. So when I start seeing people complain endlessly about one font or another used for submissions, I both understand, and find occasion to resent their outlook.

It’s fine to have a favoured typeface. Everyone who deals with text probably does! But unless an editor or agent has specifically and clearly stated in their submission guidelines that they expect a certain font, they don’t get the freedom to judge a piece if someone is using a perfectly neat and professional typeface (Times, Garamond, Courier, so on).

This comes about because I once read an article by an editor, one of those “writers tips” kind of pieces. In it, this person made some noises about being biased against submissions printed in Courier. There was an implication made that a writer submitting in Courier was doing it all for appearances, to try and make themselves seem more “genuine” as an author or some bizarre conception.

As a person who chooses to write in Courier (Dark Courier, to be precise), I felt pretty irritated. If I submit in Courier, it’s because that’s A) what I use personally, B) a very common industry standard, and C) they haven’t said not to. I like monospace fonts very much. They are comfortable and clear to read while I’m typing, and they’re very neat and tidy in print. When it comes down to it, Courier was the accepted norm for so many years, it’s just unprofessional for an editor to act like anyone using it is doing so for show.

Don’t get me wrong: if an editor, agent or any other industry professional specifically states that they would like to receive submissions in a certain typeface, by all means, a bit of exasperation is expected if they still get submissions in a different font. A writer should read and follow the submission guidelines of every individual they approach. As long as the editor/agent’s expectations have been made easily accessible and easy to understand, there’s no good excuse for them not to be followed.

But if there’s nothing specific to go on, I’ll be submitting hard copies in my size 12, indented, double-spaced Dark Courier. If someone doesn’t like that font, they need to make their preferences clear from the outset.

~A