1. Mr Grumpy
    Offline

    Mr Grumpy Member

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2011
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    0

    What does an agent/editor actually do?

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by Mr Grumpy, Apr 8, 2011.

    Hello all, got a question that's probably a bit basic to you all but as I'm new to all of this I'm going to ask.

    What exactly is the difference between an agent and an editor? I was thinking they might be one and the same, but maybe not now.

    I know an agent will look at your MS and if they like what they see they'll represent you (for a fee?) and get your book published - is there more to them than that?

    But what does an editor do? Litteraly edit your MS? Will they request you edit it to alter the story? Give you pointers where it falls down etc?

    cheers all
     
  2. Trish
    Offline

    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2011
    Messages:
    1,986
    Likes Received:
    224
    Location:
    New York
    An agent is not an editor. An agent is someone who reads your manuscript, likes what he sees, agrees to represent you and then submits it to publishing houses for you and is your "middleman" between the publishing house and you. He will negotiate things that need negotiating, such as the best advance for your book, help you work through issues with cover art, and get you the best opportunity possible. His interest in this is that the more money YOU make, the more money he makes. (This does not in anyway guarantee that just because an agent takes you on he/she'll be able to get you a deal.
    And while an agent MAY offer suggestions about how to edit your story, it should not be expected. Further, you may be highly disappointed if you do all that work and then the editor at the publishing house (providing your agent has been successful in getting you a contract) asks you to change even more, or hates everything the agent had you change.

    Editors, unless you're paying for one to do a service for you BEFORE you send out query letters, are the people who tell you what you have to fix to get your book in print once you have a deal in place.

    Ideally an agent will love your MS the way it is, that's why he's taking it, and you, on.

    *EDIT* This is for the US, I have no clue how things differ outside of the US for publishing
     
    2 people like this.
  3. TWErvin2
    Offline

    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,528
    Likes Received:
    561
    Location:
    Ohio, USA
    An agent represents a work. A good agent will know markets and publishers and have professional relationships with editors, and know what they’re looking for. They can provide access to markets that do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. An agent will negotiate the contract and will act as a go-between when there are problems between an editor and the author, for example.

    Some agents assist with helping get a manuscript in better condition.

    Agents don’t charge fees (such as reading fees, etc.). An agent generally earns about 15% of the advance/royalties from what is negotiated in the contract for the author.

    An agent works for a publisher. They determine what might be accepted/offered a contract. With larger publishers, often the marketing department and executive editors and such may have in influence on what is accepted. The editor edits a work/works with the author to improve it, helps get out ARCs for blurbs and such, and a lot more.

    An author can hire a literary attorney or even an agent to negotiate a contract for a fee, depending on the situation.

    That’s the basics of what an agent/editor does.
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. Terry D
    Offline

    Terry D Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2011
    Messages:
    200
    Likes Received:
    15
    Location:
    Southeast Iowa
    I think Terry means, "An editor works for a publisher."
     
  5. Trish
    Offline

    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2011
    Messages:
    1,986
    Likes Received:
    224
    Location:
    New York
    To be clear though, you should NEVER be submitting any MS to an agent that is not as clean and perfect as you can make it. Even if that means revising 30 times and having a trusted person proofread for you the same number of times. You only get one shot, and if someone else's is cleaner, why should they pick yours when they have to clean it up first?

    The fact is there should be very little need for an agent to edit if you've done your job well.
     
  6. Mr Grumpy
    Offline

    Mr Grumpy Member

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2011
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for clearing that up all.

    I thought that getting an editor was a stage before getting an agent but it seems the agent represents me to the publisher who in-turn has an in house editor. Brilliant, cheers.

    And yes, I'd never submit anything that I wasn't 100% happy with.

    Thanks all.
     
  7. popsicledeath
    Offline

    popsicledeath Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Messages:
    1,037
    Likes Received:
    71
    Not completely true. Sure, a writer should make something as polished as possible, but a manuscript will rarely be ready for publication if there's a good editor involved (and the agent cares. Twilight, for instance, went straight to publication without much editing afaik, and imo because they didn't think it would actually be big, or probably would have spent the time and money for professional editing).

    To think a writer or beta-reading friend can do the work of an editor is a bit... hopeful. Sure, the writer needs to try, but I've first-hand seen short stories accepted to big name magazines by someone with a big name agent and the publications big name editor sure as heck had feedback, and lots of it.

    And no good editor tells a writer what has to be changed. In most cases it's suggestions and a dialogue, and if the writer has the response 'I dunno' to some suggestion, then perhaps there's a bit more pressure to change. But usually it's just suggestions and a conversation and trying to make sure there are reasoning and convictions behind a writer's decisions.

    If you've done your job well as a writer, the manuscript usually isn't perfect, just worth the risk for an agent to then invest in it, an investment that can usually still include editing. Of course, there are also a lot of agents and publishers these days that basically just publish anything, and as low-cost as they can manage, and good editing is actually pretty expensive. But just because a book isn't professionally edited, doesn't mean it didn't need it.


    Also, these days, just as writers are expected to do more (like editing or marketing), increasingly, agents are taking on multiple roles, too, including editing. So it's not unheard of for an agent to also be editor (and qualified at it, not just doing it because they can and being more a proofreader or even offering general feedback, which is valuable too, but not editing).
     
  8. popsicledeath
    Offline

    popsicledeath Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Messages:
    1,037
    Likes Received:
    71
    It can vary. Some writers pay for an editor out of pocket to help their chances with an agent. Some agents ARE editors also (qualified ones). Some agents have editors on staff. Some agents pay for editing and pick up the cost as part of an investment into a book. Some publishing houses want their own in-house editors looking over a manuscript even if it's been professionally edited every step of the way prior.

    Though, increasingly these days, editors are left out of the equation. Writers are expected to produce higher quality manuscripts, agents expected to do what they can, and a manuscript is published with the hope it's good enough as is.

    Another huge thing agents do is plan marketing packages (something that is done by publishers, traditionally, but more and more by agents these days it seems) and planning readings, etc. Basically, anything that will increase sales, and agent may be likely to do.

    And negotiating contracts, as mentioned, which is pretty big deal as good contract negotiation can often itself can pay for the agent. Not to mention, having a [good] agent often simply sends the message you're a writer worth paying attention to and not screwing, so along with connections they bring a lot of respectability.

    Then again, especially as everyone in the world thinks they're a writer and feels entitled to being published, there are also a lot of agents that are basically there just hoping for a quick buck, but aren't going to put a lot of work into your novel (they're hoping for the Twilight jackpot, basically). Have to be careful and make sure a potential agent is reputable and actually working full time as an agent, not just some random person that claims to be an agent, but has a day job and doesn't have the time, know-how or motivation to actually do any work as one, but of course still want their cut.
     
  9. Trish
    Offline

    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2011
    Messages:
    1,986
    Likes Received:
    224
    Location:
    New York
    I believe I said that you should be making it as clean as you are capable of making it and that agents can suggest edits, but shouldn't be expected to.
    I also said editing would be the editors job, not the agents job, I didn't say it wouldn't need to be edited, I said it shouldn't need to be edited by the agent. The point I was making that you shouldn't be submitting anything with blatant errors, but okay, if you want to use multiple paragraphs to repeat what I said go ahead.
     
  10. KillianRussell
    Offline

    KillianRussell Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2011
    Messages:
    619
    Likes Received:
    21
    Location:
    Glasshouse
    In interviews with Ann Patchett she confessed that albeit correct, the editors strong armed the proluge out of her prize winning novel Bel Canto's which was not her debut.
     
  11. popsicledeath
    Offline

    popsicledeath Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Messages:
    1,037
    Likes Received:
    71
    That's because prologues are terrible and universally embarrassing, though. ;)
     
  12. KillianRussell
    Offline

    KillianRussell Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2011
    Messages:
    619
    Likes Received:
    21
    Location:
    Glasshouse
    Nothing The Faulkner Prize winning Ann Patchett writes is an embrassment , in fact the interview about the editing process included the deleted proluge of her 4th published novel.
     
  13. popsicledeath
    Offline

    popsicledeath Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Messages:
    1,037
    Likes Received:
    71
    Well yeah, it's not an embarrassment if they removed the prologue, that's my point, silly.
     
  14. teacherayala
    Offline

    teacherayala Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2011
    Messages:
    314
    Likes Received:
    13
    Location:
    Panama
    I have a question that is similar to this one. When seeking an agent, how necessary is it to already have a short story published or something before seeking to publish a novel in the crime/mystery/suspense genre? Should I basically assume it's not going to happen unless I can at least publish something before approaching the agent?
     
  15. popsicledeath
    Offline

    popsicledeath Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Messages:
    1,037
    Likes Received:
    71
    If the writing is good, it won't matter if you haven't been publishing short fiction.

    I'm personally a huge proponent of working on short stories, though, as it's a great way to hone your craft and can give you an advantage. And, if you're getting short fiction published in good places, it can make finding an agent easier, too. Know people who've gotten stories published in respectable places (mid-level, nothing super fancy) and gotten contacted by agents (wanting to know if they were working on novels, of course).
     
  16. Kallithrix
    Offline

    Kallithrix Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2011
    Messages:
    394
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    UK
    I just signed with an agent, and she wants to send my manuscript to an editor - I'm apprehensive because I don't know what sort of changes they're going to suggest. If they suggest substantial rewrites it does make you wonder whether they're just speaking from personal preference, and maybe a different editor would have a completely different opinion. So how do you know whether an editor is steering you in the right direction?
     
  17. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    did she tell you why she wants to do that?... if not, ask her!... find out what she wants the editor to do... and who is going to pay for it?

    this does not sound kosher to me, kalli... who's the agent?... did you check her out on preditors & editors?... did you google for feedback on her agency?...
     

Share This Page