Literary Managers

(May 2017) WRITING WEDNESDAY: Not-yet-published writers often have online discussions about literary agents, but no one mentions the need for literary managers. What’s the difference? Agents will negotiate your book deals and make sure that you are financially compensated, but managers will look at the breadth of your writing career and help guide you in making decisions on future projects. The problem is, we writers don’t make enough money to warrant the hiring of a manager, so what do we do? We have to manage ourselves. But isn’t this the responsibility of the literary agent, you say? Well, let’s get real. Agents are paid a percentage (usually 15 percent) of our advances and royalties. That’s not a whole lot in terms of the annual payment received by a midlist writer. So agents have to make sure that they are either negotiating deals of many writers or at least a handful of superstars. We writers, on the other hand, can’t escape ourselves. In other words, our income depends solely on how much we individually make (unless we employ a bunch of ghost writers!). And sometimes we write things that don’t make a whole lot money in the name of creativity or perhaps to enter a new genre or type of writing. That’s where the managing comes in. This is the reason I keep abreast of the publishing world. I subscribe to Publishers Marketplace and follow publishing news. I have private conversations with my colleagues and meet editors and agents at conferences. In these situations, I’m a literary manager, and I have only one client. I’ve often thought that it would be cool to team up with other published writers and create a literary management co-op. But I have too many ideas and this would probably take too much of my already limited time. I will be over the course of some weeks take you through a “literary direction” so come on by these next few Wednesdays. Remember to bring a journal and pen or maybe your smart phone/digital device if you are oriented that way.

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