Hello Miss Snark,
I'm an editor at a packager. A while back, you had a question from an author about how work done for a packager (or any kind of work-for-hire) looks among writing credits. Earning my eternal gratitude, you said that work-for-hire can only help a writer.
I wanted to take this one step further. My company develops our projects in-house (we specialize in children's fiction series), and once a project is deemed sell-able (or has in fact already been sold) the time comes when we need a good, reliable, talented writer to attach to that series. But trends being what they are, more and more publishers want us to hire authors who have an established body of work--talent they can trust.
Of course, this often leaves me in a bit of a Catch-22. In the past, writers used to gain experience and amp up their writing credits by doing work-for-hire. Authors who already have experience, having published their own work, don't necessarily want to do work-for-hire, no matter how much creative control they might be given. But it's hard for me to "sell" a newer author to a publisher, who wants to see experience, and it's difficult for me to find parties with experience who are at all interested.
Now, Miss Snark, you normally work in one direction: taking an author's work and finding the right editor. Recently I've been trying to do the reverse: contact agents and find authors. Unfortunately, many agents are less than receptive (not all, some have been fabulous!). Of course, I completely understand that original work is more prestigious than work-for-hire. But isn't there a flip side as well? Work is better than no work. And I can't help but feel that hiring an established, talented author is good for everyone: the writer has work, their name out there on more projects, and the publisher is happy. And a happy publishers is a happy everyone else.
So, here's where my question comes in:
What are your thoughts on editors approaching agents this way? And what's a good way to get an agent to be receptive? I'm really curious to hear your snark-filled opinion on this one.
Thanks so much for your time!
~A dedicated snarkling
(wait...can I be a snarkling if I work for the other side? I really hope so.)
Of course you can be a snarkling! Snarklings are readers of the blog. It's an opt out feature: you are until you demonstrate you are something else, like a nitwit. So far, so good.
Here's the scoop on book packagers. I can't make much money with them, so they're pretty much at the low end of the priority list. My authors are merrily typing away on books that will generate ongoing revenue for them (yay) and me (double yay). Stopping to do a work for hire piece isn't my first choice.
That said, kids book writers are a different kettle of fish. They can do more books cause there are fewer words (it's not a direct ratio at all though....it's HARD to write fewer words).
If you're looking for writers I'd look in groups with lots of writers first:
Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators,
Freelance Editorial Association,
Womens National Book Association.
I'm all for writers doing this, but I'm even more in favor of me getting paid.