ConCarolinas 2014: Editors and Agents

This is the last post from ConCarolinas 2014.

This panel was about Editors and Agents, and the panel was mostly question/answer style.  They talked about agents first, then editors.  It could have gone on for two hours instead of just one.  People had lots of questions.

The panelists were: Edmund Schubert, Sharon Stogner, Faith Hunter, Emily Leverett, and Greg Rinehart.

Some keys points:

  • In an anthology, the first and last stories are the prime spots.
  • Everyone needs an editor; the biggest complaint is editing.

Topic 1: What is the best way to get representation?  Do you really need it?

In traditional publishing, you need an agent to keep your head on straight.  In small press, 99% don’t need an agent.  Self-published authors do not need an agent.

You should have a good relationship with your agent.  Become friends.  Faith said that she would not have progressed in her career without an agent.

You don’t need an agent for short stories.  Agents make 15% of what you make, so they don’t want to work for pennies.

The agent is the representative between you and New York.  They help you read and understand contracts.

Agents are often former editors, so they have connections.

An auction is the best case scenario, and agents have the ability to get that going.

Know the preference of the house you are selling to.  Baen, for example, if you sell it, they want to talk only to you, not an agent you get later.  If the agent sells it, then they’ll talk to you both.  Baen is an important place to look.  They treat their writers like family, and they can build your career.

Some small presses can be bad.  They don’t know what they’re doing, but every large press started out as a small press…

Remember, money flows to the writer.  (Unless you are hiring someone to do a task like edit.)

The Big Five (traditional publishing houses) – you have to have an agent or know people.  How do you get to know people?  Cons!

If you get a letter that says to query again, do it!  They don’t send those often.

Research.  Look at the internet.  You’ll learn stuff.  Do your homework.

Only about 1% makes it through the slush pile.  Be sure to follow the guidelines.  Even when you know someone, follow the guidelines.

In many cases, slush readers need to reject 40 manuscripts per hour!

Topic 2: Should I edit it before sending?


Look for beta readers, or hire a freelance editor.

The most important things are story arcs, character arcs, loose ends, voice change, boring parts (lagging arc), etc.

Later work on wording, grammar, consistency with eye color, etc.

A good editor will see, identify, and explain how to fix it.  They won’t fix it for you.

Cover matters just as much as editing.

Even if you do this, you will still get rejected.

If you can’t wallpaper a room with rejection letters, you’re not a writer.

Form rejection letter: time saver.

Personalized feedback: compliment.


Thanks for reading!  I will have more information to share after I attend ConGregate in July!  I hope you all enjoyed the posts from ConCarolinas as much as I enjoyed attending the panels.