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Writing is a business

May 12, 2009

It always catches me off guard when I have to think about writing as a business venture.  Parts of that is surely related to the artistic side that drives me to create stories and worlds; the scientific side that dares to ask “what if…”; the voracious side that needs ever more feedback and contact with other writers.  The rest comes from the fact that I’m not making any money at it.

But of course it’s a business.  There are always little things to remind me of that.  Recently my reminders came from Mur Lafferty and Writer’s Digest when they both recommended Nathan Bransford’s blog.

Mr. Bransford is a literary agent out of San Francisco.  His blog is very popular and includes invaluable information to writers in search of an agent.

See, there’s that business reminder.  I am not currently a writer in search of an agent, but I hope to be one day soon (read: finish a novel), maybe this summer.  Based on what I have discovered so far, I will likely send Mr. Bransford a query unless I discover a reason he would not be a good match (to the point of the stamp itself being wasteful…although he even accepts email queries, so where’s the down side?).  But my primary interest is in his blog and the treasure-trove of advice it offers (like here, and here, and that one among others).

One of the sample queries he touts includes a reference to a sample chapter being available on the author’s website (website cited, of course).  This made me queasy.  The very first comment left on that post addressed my concern, that being whether posting chapters on a website is considered publication.  Of course the short answer to the question is yes, it is publication.  The long answer seems to be that a chapter is not, in itself, a story and its inclusion on a website is more an advertisement than a publication.  Publishers have clauses in their contracts for such things as excerpted chapters and the like, so a chapter or two would not likely be a barrier to publication. Worst case scenario would likely be a publisher (or even agent) insisting the chapter(s) be removed.

Still, I wonder how realistic Mr. Bransford’s opinion is.  What would Tor say about it, for instance?  And how many agents really want to come to my site to find my chapters even if the query struck home with them?

When the time comes, I’ll be researching my agents very closely and do what I can to adhere to their preferred solicitation formats.  I’ll also be frequenting Nathan Bransford’s site for advice on the construction of my queries.  For a guy that looks like Luke Wilson, he seems to really want authors to successfully pair with the right agents.  A Cupid for writers.  Check it out.


PS- While you’re at it, all the other links in this post are good ones, too.

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