Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Inside Agenting

One reason it's a good idea to belong to the AAR if you're an agent, aside from it being the ultimate stamp of legitimacy, is you get to go to AAR meetings. They're hit-or-miss, but there's usually drinks.

The last couple have been either about e-Books or social media outlets for authors like Facebook, Foursquare, etc. They basically boil down to this:

Social Media Presenter: This program is totally awesome and unless your author is a complete shut-in, incapable of communicating with the outside world, they have to have it YESTERDAY. Let's look at some totally cool statistics about user traffic!

Agent: ... How does this translate into sales?

Social Media Presenter: Funny you should ask that! I have no idea! But if your author doesn't do it it's definitely lost sales, right? So they should do it. They should spend way too much time on it, if anything. By the way, as an employee of this company or someone who's hired by authors to do this sort of thing for them, I have no stake whatsover in what I'm talking about!

Man, I have so many authors as friends on my author account on Facebook. They all make irrelevant posts and I tune them out. That's why I rarely post; I don't want to be tuned out. I don't really want to know about their cats or that they like the group "Reading" or that they just got out of a mental institution, which might be why they post "I AM THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST THE SAVIOR" roughly once every ten minutes, in caps, and sometimes with a long exposition. Dude, I am starting to not believe you are a legitimately published poet who has won many awards.

Authors: If you make a page specifically for your writing and author information, please stop posting meaningless crap I will instinctively tune out. Post about, I don't know, your writing. I must have some interest in it - I friended you. That or we're both on Farmville.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

MA Degree Questions

Dear Rejecter,
I have been writing novels since I was about seven. I literally think about it all the time. However, try as I might I have never been able to get beyond the 40,000 word mark before losing the plot and momentum of my story and deciding to start something else entirely. I'm a journalist on a big women's glossy in the UK so it's not getting the words down on paper that's the problem, it's rather getting my plot from A to B that stumps me.

I'm currently looking into doing a part time MA in creative writing in the hope that following a structured course might help me complete a first draft, but it's a lot of money - over £6,000 for two years of study. The course I have in mind gives you the opportunity to showcase your work with literary agents towards the end of the two years. Which sounds great, but I'm unsure as to how much value the course itself would be.

My first question is aimed at you as a published author yourself, the last two as an assistant to a Literary Agent:
a) Do you believe there is any value in doing a qualification such as an MA in Creative Writing if you can already write but are struggling with plot?
b) In your experience, how many published authors have completed these kinds of courses?
c) How valuable would the contact with literary agents through the course be? Ie would they take you more seriously/ more likely to consider your novel?

Things may be different in the UK, but here are my answers for the US:

a) You get what you put into any creative writing course. Meaning, if you write a lot you'll probably get better. You could also do that without the course, but some people need structure and some people are convinced they need feedback. I got little to no useful feedback in my MFA prgram.

b) Very few. Very to none, really. Unless they went on to teach. Then they needed the degree to do that, but preferably an MFA over an MA.

c) Little to no value.

Also, $11000 (by my guesstimate of the exchange rate) for a two-year degree is insanely cheap by most American standards, unless you are earning a degree online, they are significantly more affordable.

Note: I should clarify that if taking a course makes you go from a bad writer to an insanely good writer, it has tremendous value. I've never seen that happen, but that doesn't mean it hasn't.