Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Agent Crystal Ball Myth

STATUS: Reviewing royalty statements—of course.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? I LOVE ROCK AND ROLL by Joan Jett

Agents really don’t have a crystal ball to anticipate the market. For example, 2 years ago when Gail came to me with her manuscript SOULLESS, I wasn’t sitting at my desk thinking, “wow, if Jane Austen were to write a Victorian Steampunk fantasy, this vampire/werewolf comedy of manners called SOULLESS would definitely be it and yessiree, this type of parody is the wave of the future.” Heck no. I just sat at my desk thinking, “wow, this is cool and I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

Little did I know two years ago that in 2009, Pride & Prejudice & Zombies would hit a cultural nerve and climb the New York Times bestseller list and something like SOULLESS would be hitting the market at exactly the right time. Now I look like a genius who anticipated potentially the next “hot” trend. Uh…. yeah, that’s it.

SOULLESS is powerhousing out of the gate with thousands of copies sold in its first two weeks on sale. It’s number #21 on Bookscan’s fantasy bestseller list (and may have the potential to climb some—although it’s going to be dang hard to knock Charlaine Harris out of the top 10 slots with her Sookie Stackhouse/HBO’s True Blood series.)

It looks like I’ve had incredible foresight but the truth is that I didn’t know this was going to happen. Any agent that tells you differently is feeding you a load of you know what.

Now we can surmise, guess, analyze what is hot and what is still selling and make some assumptions about what might trend in the future.

But none of us actually know. Which is a good reason to never ask the question at a writers’ conference!

Congrats Gail on a stunning debut!