Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Great Agent Search with Guest Blogger Patricia Pellicane

The Book Boost welcomes author Patricia Pellicane to the blog to discuss finding the Perfect Agent!

Here's what she had to say...

The Perfect Agent
Have You Found Him?

I know there are good agents, perhaps even great agents. The problem is I haven’t found one.

Years ago when I first started publishing, I found a local agent. Being new to the business, I foolishly listened to him, never realizing until much later what I gave up in doing so.

When I started writing, the romance field was in its infancy. My first book was accepted by Zebra. Life and the entire world were great. Silly me, I thought everything would stay like that. It didn’t. Things started to go bad when Zebra said the story needed to be lengthened. No big deal, right? Well my agent didn’t think so.

To this day I shudder to think what he did. He told Leslie Gelbman, who is currently publisher of Berkley Books, she ran a Mickey Mouse operation and we were taking the book elsewhere. Like an idiot, I had no knowledge of the publishing world and merely accepted his decision. Later I found out that Zebra had every intention of making me one of their lead writers. I’ll never get that chance again (sigh).

So we took the book to Tower Books, who stole most of my royalties, then later sold the book for perks, vacations, etc. While they reprinted it a number of times, I made just under $500.00 total.

Enough, I’m getting off the track and growing depressed while I’m at it.

Back to agents. After selling a number of books to Pocket, I got a new agent. The first one was mostly interested in movie deals and told me I’d never make any money writing this junk.

Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you one problem with agents. When they represent you, they feel it’s like a marriage. When you leave them it’s like getting divorced. Very nasty affair.

So on to the new agent. This one liked to keep my check for 7 to 9 days. “Just to make sure the check from the publishing company cleared,” she said. There were times when I was desperate but I couldn’t get her to let it go.

Finally she offered, well if you need it that bad, I could advance you part of it. (She’ll advance me my own money. How very nice of her.)

I did need it. I called and because the agent wasn’t in at the time, I spoke to her assistant, which she had told me it was fine to do. I asked her to tell the agent I needed an advance on my money.
I got a call back. Her assistant is crying. I was so nasty. What? What?!!! That was a shock to me.

Well, one thing led to another and we argued and by the time I hung up, she was no longer my agent.

Are you finding a pattern of sorts here?

The next agent was a nice guy, but a moron. He worked mostly for the publishing company and got me the smallest advances known to mankind. So eventually he was history.

Now we come to the last agent. Very high powered big shot, razzle-dazzle, NY agent. Did I tell you the publisher sends your check to the agent? She or he takes their 15 percent and sends the balance to you. Only she didn’t. She stole the whole thing. It was just over $5000.00. You get the statement from the company, the agent gets the check. This way you know exactly how much they stole. And then what happens? She died!

Oh poor thing. (Sarcasm here). By the way, I swear I didn’t do it.

So she couldn’t send me a check and whoever was left in charge of her business never sent it either. I had to hire a lawyer and sue her estate. I got half of it. And the lawyer took one third of that. In the meantime, the IRS taxed me on the full amount, they couldn’t care less if it was stolen or not. I made it. It was taxable income period!

So when we talk about agents you might think I’m a bit prejudiced. Still without one it’s nearly impossible to sell to the big publishing houses.

Lately I’ve found if you contact an agent and they aren’t interested in you, they very simply don’t respond. After all, we wouldn’t want their little fingers to get hurt while sending you a rejection email. (Sarcasm again) Many don’t tell you they won’t respond so you wait for months for nothing. God, what am I doing in this freaking, aggravating business? I figure there’s a special place in heaven for those considerate folks. Hopefully, right next to my last agent.

There’s no end to this story. Apparently I’m hooked on frustration, endless waiting and heartache because I’m still looking for the perfect agent.

A Note from the Book Boost: Patricia, I love this post! Not that these bad experiences happened to you, of course. About that, I'm very sorry to hear those stories. But on the positive side, as someone who has searched high and low for the perfect agent with no luck, I can now honestly say that life as a writer WITHOUT an agent has been far better than this! Thanks for giving us the nitty gritty details. Please tell us more about your book.


Abby was going home for her mother’s wedding. Caught in a train crash, she was astonished to suddenly find a strange man laying over her. “Don’t fall asleep,” she pleaded, “oh please, don’t.” What had she done to cause this awful night? She couldn’t stay here. She’d never sleep while pressed beneath his body.

Linc awoke to find himself sprawled upon the softest women. It was that neat little piece he’d been talking to seconds before the crash. Damn, if she was delicious. Could he be blamed for sampling a morsel of luscious woman? After all if she truly didn’t want it, wouldn’t she have stopped him?


Two nights later Abby sat at her mother’s kitchen table and behind her spectacles blinked her pretty, dark blue eyes. “Who won?”

“I did, sweetie,” her mother said as she gathered both the cards and the money at the center of her table toward her.

“I thought the sayin’ goes, something like, unlucky at cards, lucky at love?”

Lilly flashed Jeb a smile. “Seems I’m lucky at both.”

“Are we finished?” Abby asked.

“Not unless you want to stop,” Jeb returned.

“Oh no. I think this is great fun.”

“I’m afraid I have to get up early so this will probably be my last hand,” Mr. Blake said.

“Oh please, Mr. Blake. Don’t go yet. I’m having such a good time.”

The cards were gathered together, shuffled and handed to Abby. “Oh, I think I’d better not deal. I’m not sure I could. Would you deal for me?” she asked Linc.


The cards were dealt, bets laid and each party asked for two or three until it was Abby’s turn.

She simply asked, “I’m sorry to be such a pain, but I keep forgetting. If I have a king, queen, jack, ten and a nine, is that any good?”

All around the table muttered groans of one sort or another as they threw their cards into the center and to Abby’s delight, she was told she won.

They played a few more hands. Abby won three in a row. It was the last hand when she asked, “Is it a good thing if all the cards have that same little diamond shape at the edge? Is that called a full house?” Everyone, again with groans of despair, threw their cards into the center of the table.

Abby grinned and took the money. But before her cards were slipped back into the deck Linc took them and frowned. “You could get shot for cheating at cards, you know.”

“Me?” she blinked and asked in all innocence. “When did I cheat?” she asked as she took the cards and suddenly with nimble fingers was able to shuffle them better than any dealer he’d ever seen, before laying them out in a smooth perfect semi-circle near the center of the table.

Linc’s dark gaze narrowed threateningly. “You said you had a flush.”

Abby shook her head and grinned as she counted her winnings and in exaggerated innocence returned, “If I remember correctly, what I said was, ‘if all the cards have that little diamond thing, is that called a full house’?”

Jeb was laughing so hard he had to wipe his eyes with the back of his hands, while Lilly grinned. “I knew I didn’t make a mistake sending you off to school.”

Linc gaze narrowed threateningly. “I owe you for that.”

“Yeah?” she turned to sneer in his direction. “Why don’t you try and collect it, mister.”

* * * *

His mouth pulled sharply away from hers. Cheek to cheek, they gasped for their every breath, when she groaned, “You’re ruining everything.”

“Am I?” He smiled as he pulled back a bit and ran his thumb over her lips. “What did I ruin?

She shook her head. “I’m engaged.”

“Are you?” He looked at her eyes. “And you love him?”

“Would I marry him if I didn’t?”

Linc grinned, took her hand and said, “Let’s go.”


“The barn.”

Abby made a low protesting sound deep in her throat, even as she allowed him to take her hand and lead her from the porch. “I don’t think…”

“Sometimes you’re better off if you don’t.” At the barn he turned to face her with a grin. “If you loved him, you would have said you do.” He moved her so he could press her up against the inside wall. “So why are you marrying him?”

“How is anything I do your business?”

“I want you.”

“I hate you.”

“Jesus,” he shook his head. “I don’t care,” he said as his mouth lowered again to hers.


Unknown said...

Wow. I am so sorry to hear about all of your travails.

But thank you for posting.

It's when we share our stories of our experiences that we all learn and make sure things like this don't happen to other writers.

I've learned so much talking to people who were willing to share their stories with me and advice that my search, while frustrating, was nothing like so many horror stories I've heard.

I cyberstalked the house I'm with. *grin* I talked to many of its authors, I read everything I could find about every agent I considered submitting to. I wouldn't have known to do these things without the advice of people who have already been there.

I wish you the best of luck on your new release!

Amy J Ramsey said...

Lovely site and very nice interview Patricia. Thanks for sharing with us.

Amy Ramsey

Patricia Pellicane said...

Thanks for the comment, Amy. It's appreciated.