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    postheadericon Literarily Speaking September 2011 Book Panel: “Agents: Do we need them to get published?”

    The Literarily Speaking Book Panel talks to authors on different subjects regarding books, book industry topics, book selling, book promotions, and whatever catches our fancy. Today’s topic is agents. I’m sure everyone knows in order to get into the “big houses,” you need an agent.  That goes without saying.  That’s the first thing aspiring authors do when they finish a book – send queries to loads of agents hoping they’ll be the next best thing.  Unfortunately for most, their next best thing might not be your next best thing and it leaves the author wondering what to do next.

    We asked our panel today what they did when they finished their book.  Did they look for an agent or go for it on their own?
    Our Distinguished Panel of Authors
    Lucas TrentRICHARD BLUNT is the author of the fantasy novel, Lucas Trent: Guardian in Magic. He is currently working on his second book in the Lucas Trent series. You can visit his website at

    Visit him on Twitter at and Facebook at

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    Mary Carter 5MARY CARTER is a freelance writer and novelist.  The Pub Across the Pond is her fifth novel with Kensington. Her other works include:  My Sister’s Voice, Sunnyside Blues, She’ll Take It, and Accidentally Engaged.  In addition to her novels she has written two novellas: A Very Maui Christmas in the best selling anthology Holiday Magic, and The Honeymoon House in the best selling anthology Almost Home. She is currently working on a new novel for Kensington. Readers are welcome to visit her at Visit her at Facebook at

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    Lilian DuvallLILIAN DUVAL lives with her husband George, a native of Singapore, in a small house in New Jersey overlooking a large county park. They have two sons and a daughter, all independent and ambitious, and several cats. She’s an amateur classical guitarist and enjoys attending concerts and plays in New York City. But writing has always been her calling. In her own words, “The most enjoyable activity I can imagine is to invent some characters, make them a little larger than life, set them bickering and thrashing against each other and their fates, and enact a fictional resolution that makes more sense than the chaos and unpredictability of our complicated lives.” Lilian’s latest book is You Never Know: Tales of Tobias, an Accidental Lottery Winner. You can visit Lilian’s website at Connect with her on Twitter at @lilianduval and Facebook at Lilian Duval.

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    Carole Eglash-KosoffCAROLE EGLASH-KOSOFF lives and writes in Valley Village, California. She graduated from UCLA and spent her career in business and in teaching. In 2006 her husband, mother, and brother died within a month of one another, causing her to reevaluate her life. She volunteered to work with the American Jewish World Service and was sent to South Africa to teach. She returned there a year later, having met an amazing array of men and women who had devoted their lives during the worst years of apartheid to helping the children, the elderly, and the disabled of the townships. These people cared when no one else did and their efforts continue to this day. It is their stories that needed to be told. They are apartheid’s unheralded heroes and The Human Spirit is their story. You can visit her website at or connect with her at Facebook at

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    Tamara ElizabethTAMARA ELIZABETH is a speaker, author, self love coach, radio host, a master motivator of women in transition, conductress of motivational seminars, professional photographer, small space designer, lover of social media, mother of 5, and a fabulously loveable woman after her first 50 years. She is determined to create a revolution of women by empowering them to look in the mirror and discover their true loveable reflection.  Her journey has been a rocky one of late and she has had to start her life again at fifty.  From this process I wrote a book – Fabulously Fifty and Reflecting It! – Discovering My Loveable Me. Visit her website at Follow her on Twitter at and Facebook at

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    Nemo JamesNEMO JAMES dreamt of becoming a professional musician from the first time he picked up a guitar following a talent content disaster. Thought of by his friends as being the person most likely to make the big time he turned professional but was continually side tracked by the need to earn a living from music. Just a Few Seconds, A Story From the Hidden World of Music and Beyond is an autobiographical account of his life in the music industry. His journey takes him all over the world from private gigs for the rich and famous to the roughest pubs. Starting in the late sixties when heavy rock was born, through to the 1980’s and 90’s when discos and electronics decimated live music dance halls. Just a Few Seconds is an amusing and heartrending story of perseverance showing how the road to success can lead us down the strangest of paths. You can find Nemo James at his website, Visit his tour page at Pump Up Your Book!

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    Cheryl MalandrinosCHERYL MALANDRINOS is a freelance writer, children’s author and editor. Her first children’s book, Little Shepherd, was released in August 2010 by Guardian Angel Publishing. She is also a member of the SCBWI. Cheryl is a Tour Coordinator for Pump Up Your Book, a book reviewer, and blogger. She is also a former contributor for the Writer2Writer eZine. Ms. Malandrinos lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband and two children. She also has a son who is married. Visit Cheryl at her newly redesigned website or visit the Little Shepherd book blog at

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    Jaime McDougall 2JAIME MCDOUGALL is a citizen of the world, currently loving life in beautiful country Victoria in Australia. She loves eating sushi, kidnapping her husband and naming her pets in honour of science fiction authors. She has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: High School: The Real Deal and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Campus Chronicles. She has also enjoyed writing a column called ‘The New Australian’ in local newspapers as well as various articles online.

    Echo Falls is her first paranormal romance novel and is available on Kindle, in print and at Smashwords. You can visit her website at

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    Greg Messel 3GREG MESSEL has written three novels and three unpublished memoirs. He published his premiere novel “Sunbreaks” in 2009, followed by “Expiation” in 2010 and “The Illusion of Certainty” in 2011. Greg has had a newspaper career as a columnist, sportswriter and news editor. He won a Wyoming Press Association Award as a columnist. Greg also spent many years in the corporate world as a Financial Manager. He now devotes his energies to writing at his home in Edmonds, Washington on the Puget Sound just north of Seattle, where he lives with his wife, Carol. You can visit his website at  Connect with Greg on Twitter at or Facebook at

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    Dorothy_ThompsonDorothy Thompson is CEO/Founder of Pump Up Your Book, an innovative public relations agency focusing on online promotions.  Her book, Romancing the Soul, was published by Zumaya Publications in 2004 and will be releasing a new one, The Soul Mate Triangle: Unlocking the Mysteries of the Soul Mate Relationship, in 2013.  She is also the author of the ebooks, How to Find & Keep Your Soul Mate, 101 Facts You Never Knew About Soul Mates and A Complete Guide to Promoting & Selling Your Self-Published eBook. Dorothy has appeared nationwide on many radio programs such as Lifetime Radio and Single Talk, Barry Eva’s A Book and a Chat, and has been quoted in many publications including the supermarket celebrity tabloid, “OK!”. Her articles have been published in many online and print magazines, including the Eastern Shore News and the Daily Times, both Gannett publications.  Dorothy lives on the beautiful island of Chincoteague, Virginia.

    Theresa WallaceT. M. WALLACE lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband and four children. At eight years old, she won a short story contest and was published in a local newspaper. She wrote her first book at ten years old called “The Adventures of Pinkstar,” about a stuffed rabbit who magically comes to life. T. M. Wallace received her Master’s degree in English Literature from Carleton University and a degree in Education from the University of Ottawa. In 2010 her latest book, Under A Fairy Moon, was a quarter-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel awards. Under A Fairy Moon will be published by Brownridge Publishing in June, 2011. You can visit her website at

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    Vincent Zandri 4VINCENT ZANDRI is the No. 1 International Bestselling author of the thrillers THE INNOCENT, GODCHILD, MOONLIGHT FALLS, THE REMAINS and CONCRETE PEARL. An MFA in Writing graduate of Vermont College, he has was a Stringer for The Albany Times Union Newspaper, and a contributor to New York Newsday, Hudson Valley Magazine, Game and Fish Magazine, and more. His short fiction has appeared in many of the leading journals and magazines, Orange County Magazine, Buffalo Spree, Negative Capability, The Maryland Review, Rosebud, The Best of Rosebud, Lost Creek Letters among them. His novels, stories, and journalism have been translated into many foreign languages including the Dutch, Japanese, French, Russian and Turkish. A freelance photo-journalist, foreign correspondent, and Blogger for RT, Globalspec and International Business Times, he divides his time between New York and Florence, Italy. For more on the author, go to WWW.VINCENTZANDRI.COM.

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    September 2011 Book Panel Agent Discussion:

    Richard Blunt: “Having an agent surely helps when you are trying to score with the big publishers, but having an agent is not a guarantee as well and finding one is quite a challange. On the other hand with modern technology, like print on demand and ebooks, getting into the big houses is no longer a must have for a book to make it to the market. In the end it comes down to this: How good can a big house do marketing on your book? In my experience the costs for an agent would be pretty much as high as going for self publishing in the first place, and the only really advantage you have with a big publisher is that they have way more pull on marketing than an author can have by himself. So, do you need an agent? No… Would you like to have one? Depends on who you are and how you work. It might defintely make your work easier… I didn’t have one, and I wouldn’t have liked one either…”

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    Mary Carter: “I looked for an agent. I bought the Literary Marketplace Digest and followed the guidelines. I made sure to only query agents who represented the genre of book I had written. I made sure I had a complete manuscript before querying agents, and I made sure I had done all I could with it before submitting it. I even had ten friends read it and give me feedback first. I wouldn’t want to be in this business without an agent. They have your back. They handle the contracts. They give you feedback and support. I know it’s really hard to get an agent. I’m sure I would have explored self-publishing if I hadn’t been able to get one. John Grisham self-published his first novel. We all know how that story ended. Of course he transitioned to having an agent and a publishing house, so maybe all roads lead to Rome. I think the digital age is transforming self-publishing and distribution, there is no doubt about that!”

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    Lilian Duval:  “You Never Know is my first book, but before that, several of my short stories were published in magazines. To find a publisher for this novel, I queried 217 literary agents, sent requested submissions to seven of them, waited nearly a year for some of them to respond, and watched the months roll past my somewhat date-sensitive book. Then I decided to find the best and most reputable independent publisher to bring the book to life, and I’ve had no regrets. Wheatmark, Inc. did a great job, and the book couldn’t be more professionally prepared. The whole process took longer than I expected, but the wait was worth it: seven months. Because I have no talent for selling, I hired an internet marketing company specializing in books, but was disappointed that their actual work didn’t match their promises. Then I hired a much better internet marketing company, Pump Up Your Book, and a highly-regarded, traditional offline public relations specialist from New York City. The lady from New York charged me an arm and a leg, and for all that, I ended up with ONE single review from a top critic—nice to have, but at what cost! Of these three publicists, the only good one was Dorothy Thompson of Pump Up Your Book, and she is truly excellent. She gets the word out, about, and all around, and she does it with heart. To my fellow writers: don’t worry that you’re wasting your time writing, because storytelling will always be an integral aspect of humanity, whether as paperbacks, Kindle, narration, theater, cinema, or some new medium not yet invented. Good fiction helps us make sense of life and its unpredictable adventures. Literature is good for the soul!”

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    Carole Eglash-Kosoff:  “My first book, The Human Spirit – Apartheid’s Unheralded Heroes, was self published without an agent but I had an agent on my first novel, When Stars Align.  I followed their suggestions by paying a professional editor.  They tried for well over a year to find a publisher but they were unsuccessful.  Finally, in frustration, I self-published it as well.  I believe an Agent would be a terrific thing to have but in this changing world of publishing, unless you are already a name, getting one is difficult.”

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    Tamara Elizabeth:  “From the time I put pen to paper till I held a printed copy of my book in my hand for my eyes to see, I have done the process totally on my own. I never even considered an agent. I chose to invest my time and money in a mentor. She was invaluable to me. She was the voice of reason, helped me think outside the box, she gave me generous doses of tough love while all the while being my biggest cheerleader. She saw the gift I had to share with the world; a message to share with the hope of helping one woman with her struggles to overcome the many challenges that go hand-in-hand with life’s transitions. She encouraged me to get my message in the hands of woman as quickly and easily as possible. So I decided to use a print-on-demand company to publish my book, and I am using my blog, social networks and this virtual book tour to promote my book. I haven’t looked back and I encourage others with a desire to write a book to venture forward as well. Everyone has a gift to share with the world and there are more than enough readers waiting to devour your tidbits of expertise.”


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    Nemo James:There is no question in my mind that an author should try and find an agent but with my first book, Just A Few Seconds there was no point as who was going to bother with an autobiography by an unknown musician regardless of how good it is?  To stand any chance of attracting an agent I knew I had to self publish. I was delighted to get some excellent reviews including one from one of the UK’s top journalists so three months ago I approached six agents who obviously regard hitting the reply button and pasting “no thanks” as being too much for them. Coming from a musical background it seems to me that agents play the same role as music publishers in that their sole purpose is to exploit your work. Even if you are accepted it is like winning a lottery where the first prize is a ticket for another lottery. I have had it up to here (I am slapping myself on the top of my head) with people telling me they love my work but there is no market for it so it was a great relief to discover how easy it is to go it alone these days. Fortunately, I have had a lot of experience with computers, self promotion and banging my head against a brick wall so everything is moving along nicely. I do have an advantage over most writers in that I can cross promote my books with my music. I have noticed a dramatic increase in my music since my book was published and that is creating a lot of interest in my book all of which has led to some enquires about live performances. So in answer to the question: if you can find an agent great, if not don’t worry about it. There is more than one way to skin a live crocodile.”

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    Cheryl Malandrinos:  “When I finished, Little Shepherd, I already knew who I wanted to put it under contract. Since Guardian Angel Publishing (GAP) is a small independent publisher, I didn’t need an agent at the time. That didn’t mean, however, that I wasn’t going to pursue finding an agent in the future. It’s been a year since Little Shepherd’s release. In the interim I’ve kept learning about the industry and my craft. I’ve followed some agent blogs, taking the advice and insight to heart. Next month, I will have the opportunity to pitch two of the five stories I’ve written to agents. I’m not sure what will come of it. What will I do if they reject them? Perhaps I’ll submit them to my current publisher. I love working with GAP and the support from them and my fellow authors is tremendous. What will I do if either is accepted? Do a happy dance (please don’t watch, it will be ugly).Do we need agents to get published? No. But the expertise they bring to the table is what makes them so valuable. If I am fortunate enough to secure an agent, I look forward to working with an industry professional who can help me shape my career.”

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    Jaime McDougall:  “When it comes to publishing these days, the question isn’t “Do we need agents to get published”; the question is “Do you want an agent to help you get published”. In today’s changing publishing world, agents still play an important role to those who want to be traditionally published. I chose not to pursue an agent mainly because of the time involved not only in the sale but in the production of a book. I understand the necessity of the time frame, but I knew I could indulge my love of learning new things and produce a book in a relatively short amount of time by doing it myself. There is no doubt that I could have and could still benefit greatly from an agent. Yet I see this as a great adventure full of things to learn.”

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    Greg Messel:  “There are two choices–working your way through the traditional publishing houses or becoming self published. I have talked with authors who have published with traditional publishing houses and have even had best sellers, who say it can take them a year to try to get an answer on their manuscript. Then the answer can be “no.”  It is exceedingly difficult to break into the big houses and get an agent. I used to enjoy walking into a bookstore and seeing the thousands of books. Since I’ve been writing novels, I find it demoralizing to walk into a big bookstore and see thousands of books. I find it especially disheartening to see some of the garbage that gets published. I’m not sure how you get noticed by agents. Meanwhile, as a writer I can finish one novel a year, get it self published and out there, then continue writing. Otherwise, I think writers can end up with a pile of manuscripts and a pile of rejection letters. Today is a new day. There are other ways to get published.”

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    Dorothy Thompson: “I actually had an agent.  Then fired her.  In order to get into the big houses, I would have had to cut out half my book and do away with the ‘new agey’ stories in Romancing the Soul, an anthology I put together focusing on the soul mate relationship.  It didn’t sit right with me so I had to let her go.  Was it a mistake?  Not to me because dissecting my book wasn’t in the cards.  I ended up going with a small press, Zumaya Publications, instead.  The publisher had the same focus I had and I knew it was a marriage made in heaven.  Will I ever want an agent?  Just depends.  I hear so many stories about it taking so long to even get your book looked at, agent or not.  Not saying I wouldn’t turn down a million dollar deal, but publishing has taken a new persona.  My opinions have changed as well as the options as to how I want to be published.  Frankly, if I had to choose between any method of publishing, I’d choose self-publishing because I like to have that control.”

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    T.M. Wallace: “When I finished writing Under A Fairy Moon, I decided to go for it on my own. There was no question of my getting an agent to shop this book around. I write children’s books and Young Adult fiction, and thankfully, these are areas in the industry that still allow authors to work directly with publishers.  Although it takes a lot of time and energy to attend writers’ conferences and keep sending your manuscript around to various publishers, I think that it is worth the extra effort to maintain control over your creative property. Also, it is becoming almost as much effort to find a good agent as it is to find a publisher! It is doubtful that you will an agent that believes in your book as much as you do. I say, if at all possible, take the matter into your own hands and represent yourself.”

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    Vincent Zandri: “For big traditional deals with major publishers, agents are still crucial if not critical. My agent just negotiated a major deal for me with Thomas and Mercer which includes their buying out five of my  in-print novels currently with StoneHouse/StoneGate Ink, including the bestsellers THE REMAINS and GODCHILD and the Top 10 Bestseller Amazon Kindle, THE INNOCENT. The deal was so complicated and dealt with legalities so far above my head that I never could have handled it alone. Plus my agent was able to  secure me a very nice advance and an unheard of percentage for E-books. But as for working with small indie presses, like my relationship with StoneHouse/StoneGate Ink, often times the publisher and I negotiate a deal on our own. The contracts are simple and the relationship very personal. So in that sense, I can enjoy the best of both the traditional agented world and the non-traditional unagented world. However, take heed: many indie presses are fly-by-night operations, so beware. My indie press is one of the most successful and respected in the country and fully approved by my agent. So do your homework if you’re going to go after an unagented deal. If you harbor any doubt whatsoever about what you’re getting into, then by all means, work with an agent. ”

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