Category Archives: Social network

2013 so far a year to remember!

As you can tell I don’t post nearly enough blogs to answer questions that come through this website. And that’s because I lead a very busy life. Being an agent means shaking a few trees everyday and constantly keeping in touch with clients and publishers. If you don’t do that you don’t make deals which essentially means you aren’t paying rent this month!! Many people think the life of a literary agent means you make a whole lot of cash and dine in all the best restaurants. That is not accurate for non-agencies. Freelance literary agents like myself have to source clients all the time and go through a lot of hell when it comes to submissions. I opened up my page again this year to see what I would get in terms of people following the rule. And lo and behold people STILL don’t read. How do you expect publishers to read your work if you can’t? I received 4 pitches through the comment section. Guess what. I don’t read pitches when they aren’t submitted properly. And to emphasize this I recently gave an interview in Writers Digest. Here it is. READ IT

http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/agent-advice-brian-j-wood-of-brian-j-wood-literary-agency

That being said, I have added some great books to my sold section so far this year including my own- Winter Walk and I will have a separate page for that little item. And no it’s not a sports book. It’s actually poetry. Very good poetry if I do say so myself. And NO I do not sell poetry to publishers for anyone so don’t send me poetry submissions.

However if you like poetry that is a little different, then here is a sample.

http://contraposition.wordpress.com/2013/08/17/and-can-it-be-by-brain-wood/

http://www.madswirl.com/content/poetryforum.html

http://contraposition.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/undercover-boss-by-brian-wood/

Oh yes, and I got married to my publicist Rachel Sentes- http://www.gal-fridaypublicity.com/  So that was pretty exciting. Here is a photo below- so yes it is a busy year.

July 27 2013 at the Beach House in Vancouver, B.C

July 27 2013 at the Beach House in Vancouver, B.C

So what am I doing right now? Well I’m currently in Toronto scoping out new projects and new book deals and meeting with publishers. So if you have something you think that I might be interested in looking at please follow the submission guidelines to the LETTER. ( Read link above again) and perhaps you will hear from me.

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Visiting Toronto

Just got back from a quick trip to Toronto. It is not easy to see everyone in 3 days, but I did ok:
Wed–spent the whole day at TSN, meeting clients and potential clients
Thurs–Penguin, Mclelland and Stewart, Knopf, Doubleday, then two clients of mine at Sportsnet, then a Leafs game
Fri–HarperCollins, Anansi, Wiley, then a potential client at CBC, then a fellow agent (Rick Broadhead).
Sat–potential client, meeting at the Ritz Carleton.
Then I flew to Ottawa to meet some clients of mine, then flew back to Vancouver.
I sometimes wonder whether these trips are worthwhile, because they seldom result in a sale. Generally I pitch stuff and publishers tell me if they want a look or not. And I do personal follow-ups on pitches in progress (offer, counter-offer, signing, etc).
But most of my sales are an indirect result of these trips. In fact, since 2009, all of my sales have been to Toronto-based publishers. So I think they do pay off….eventually.

I’d like to close with some advice for people who are considering me as their agent.

Please follow the submission guidelines TO THE LETTER, and please double-check your work. You would be astonished by the mistakes I see, even people misspelling my name, which isn’t easy.

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Nothing like a face to face meeting

Email is great–except for you texting weirdos–& the phone is essential, but to me there is nothing like a face to face meeting.

In fact I would argue that 10 emails=5 phone calls=1 meeting.

And this week has been nice–I was lucky to have the Olympics here in 2010, & because the Canucks have done so well in the playoffs, there are a lot of hockey people in town right now. (And luckily for me most of them are at the same hotel.) This week I have seen

Bill Daly
Pierre McGuire
PJ Stock
Scott Oake
Eric Francis
Mike Murphy
Dan Shaughnessy
Nick Kypreos
Darren Millard
James Duthie
Darren Dreger

And I managed to have coffee or spend some time with

Bob McKenzie
Ray Ferraro
Doug Maclean
Bob Ryan
Ian Mendes
Elliotte Friedman
Glenn Healy
Mike Zeisberger

If you are reading my blog, you are either interested what it’s like being a literary agent, or, far more likely, looking for an agent for your own stuff.

So why I am telling you this?

Here’s why: the odds of me signing up all these people are slim to none (admittedly, two or three of them are already clients, but they only represent 10% of the names here); but still, I feel every minute was worth it. Because the people I talked to know who I am now. They might not do a book, or do a book with me, but the odds are good they will recommend me to others. And they know a LOT of people.

So don’t stop hustling for your book. It’s not supposed to be easy.

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We’d publish you…if you were someone

Just got back from Edmonton, from the Get Publishing conference held every two years. Met a lot of great new people.

The conference  organizers asked me to be part of “Pitch Camp,” where authors can come to see editors, agents, publicists, publishers, etc, etc, for some one-on-one contact.

Six people came to see me over the course of two hours. All of them had some great ideas–& I wish them well.

But my associate, Rachel Sentes, had a story to tell me afterwards that was kind of, well, sobering. One of the six people who came to see her described her adventures trying to get published. She had managed, without an agent, to get her stuff reviewed by some editors at Doubleday. (I can tell you that that is no day at the beach.) Anyway, they were quite close to making an offer…..but never did. The finally told her:

“If you were someone, we would have published this last week.”

Translation: “if you were someone famous, we would have made an offer. ”

In many respects, this is what book publishing has been reduced to: publishers are making less & less, so they are taking fewer & fewer chances. In April I had a publisher in Toronto, a good one, tell me he was uninterested in any book that would not sell at least 10k copies.

So where does this leave the first time author?

Good question. It’s one thing for a  new author with a national tv, print or radio forum. They can always find a publisher willing to take a chance with their stuff, esp. for non-fiction.

I tell new authors they should think about hiring a publicist. (Two great ones in western Canada are gal friday in Vancouver & the publicity mavens in Nanaimo.) There are no guarantees; but publicists can get you the media’s ear in ways no one else can; & this could lead to the kind of regular exposure that publishers are interested in.

The other thing to do is attend events like Get Publishing. I learned more talking to the G.M. of NeWest Publishing than I would have in months & months of reading the website. We can have all the fancy e-availability we want; but nothing will ever replace the face-to-face meeting; not texting; not teleconferencing; not skype.

To all the people who came to see me at Pitch Camp–thanks, & best of luck!

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Why face to face meetings are important

Toronto

Just got back from my biannual (or is it biennial?) trip there, had a great time as usual. (I just checked: it’s biannual.)

I started doing this in  2009. An agent I know, a good one, had a look at the books I was working on, & said–

“Brian, you’re doing great, don’t get me wrong…..but to really succeed, you need to go to Toronto twice a year. Even if you have nothing to pitch at the moment, just go in there & show your face for a few minutes. You’ll sell more books when people can put a face to your name.”

This has turned out to be true. I am, proudly, based in Vancouver. But of my 22 sales, only 6 have been in B.C. The other 16 have been sold to Toronto-area publishers; & this would not have been possible without these trips.

It’s amazing, in this this era of cell phones, texting, emails, conf calls, & so on….how much personal contact means.

My point?

If you are an aspiring writer, esp. if you live in Western Canada, I strongly urge you to attend Get Publishing in Edmonton in May. (May 6-7, Grant MacEwan College)

Why?

Because if you sign up to attend, you’ll hear great speeches by the keynote speakers….but to me THE great opportunity for writers is the pitch camp. Because you get a chance to actually meet people in the industry. Publishers, editors, managing editors, agents, publicists….you name it. It’s one thing to check out a publisher’s website. It’s quite another to meet someone who actually works there.

I’ll be at Pitch Camp….come & say hi if you get a chance!

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On my way east- the glamorous life of a literary agent

Well, it’s that time of year again,  the pilgrimage to Toronto-the land of broken dreams and hard to reach publishers.   About twice a year I like to go and meet face to face with the publishers that I sell my books to, and set up meetings with prospective new clients. I also like to remind them all that there are amazing authors outside of the GTA.

It’s odd, but after all these years  there still seems to be an invisable force field around Toronto that some editors refuse to look past when it comes to buying manuscripts from Western Canadian writers. Some of the strongest writers in Canada are out here just waiting to be discovered, but don’t get a chance because Toronto doesn’t know who they are.

But that’s why I encourage so many writers to consider putting together a publicity platform before they start sending their work out to editors and agents. If Toronto knows who you are, there is a greater chance they will buy your book. Because in the end it’s really not the editors who are making decisions, it’s the sales people.

You have to convince the sales people that you can market and sell your book, because they are the ones that hold the purse strings. An editor can love your work, but if they can’t convince the sales people that they are going to make money, then forget it ( and a good scotch might not help).

Of course, some will just say “go to the U.S ,” there are plenty of publishers there who will take your book. Indeed, I know a few writers who have managed 3 book deals for fiction and can’t wait for their books to come out. Of course, most of those people have been writing for years and have an impressive writing resume. New novelists and writers, the ones that show up with blockbusters are one in a million. I’m not saying that you aren’t that one, but you also have to live in reality. That’s where I live. Actually I live in an apartment waiting for royalty checks to arrive.

But that’s another story. If you think you are going to make any money as a writer, think again. Think about publishing your book, doing a great amount of publicity, seeing some sales, and then getting paid maybe ( if you are lucky), a year later. And don’t forget, while you are waiting- so is your agent.

Your agent doesn’t get paid until you do. I sold two best sellers last year and I’m still waiting to see a dime from them. Yes, that’s right. Don’t expect anything for a really long time. So if you are into writing your book for money- do it online and focus your marketing that way, because retail sales are going to take a long time to show up.

Anyway, enough on the soapbox. I’m looking forward to visiting family, friends, and business partners in good old Toronto. And I hope to do some deals. I love that part of my job.That, and the fact that FOOTBALL is back on.

In the meantime, check out my submission guidelines ( Don’t submit through here- I hardly ever check my comments) and I look forward to discovering the next great best seller.
Oh and check out my associate Rachel Sentes and her site www.gal-fridaypublicity.com. She’s one of those people that can help you with your platform.

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An Agent at the Olympics

Wow, it’s been ages since I’ve written on here. I guess I’m not cut out to be with the blogging trends. A lot of people chastise me for not jumping on the bandwagon of twitter and flickr and all those other social media sites, but to be quite honest, I’d rather spend my time working with clients then talking about it online. Is it really necessary to know every little thing about everyone?

Everyone’s lives are now sound bites less than 140 characters or 30 seconds of visuals. No wonder it’s getting tough for agents to sell books. I’m proud of resisting the temptation to spend more time online. Not that I don’t waste a lot of it fooling around on Facebook. But then again, that’s how I have connected with several new clients. So I can’t knock all of social media…at the moment.

And for those of you who know me, I finally broke down and bought a cell phone. For emergencies only. And no, don’t ask me for the phone number. You won’t get it. Not even if you buy the best scotch on the market. Well maybe you’ll get it after I drink the scotch, but not before!

So, now onto my topic. Being a literary agent at the Vancouver Olympics. It’s been crazy here,but the best part of being here during this time, is that 3/4 of my clients and potential clients are here working. It’s been an amazing time.

I am a huge sports fan, and this last week I’ve been able to meet some of my hockey heroes and enjoy the stories and inside scoop about the games and events being held here. This really has been a turning point in my career, and I am looking forward to selling more books this year. The life of a literary agent can be  be extremely frustrating. There isn’t anyone to bill when people don’t show up for meetings or miss phone appointments. But I have to say that this past week has made up for all of those missed deadlines and phone calls.

It’s been pretty exciting.

If you read my blog and feel like submitting some cool sports book or cook book, then please send all queries to my associate Rachel at rachel@gal-fridaypublicity.com. She’s pretty cool.

So until I find the time to write again. Enjoy the rest of the Olympics!

Oh, PS- Click on this link to read a great column by Kevin Blackistone- with yours truly mentioned!!
http://olympics.fanhouse.com/2010/02/22/a-kick-to-canadas-collective-gut/

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