Agents and Acquisition Editors

Acquistion Editors and AgentsThis photo is courtesy of photostock at

The line between being an independent author and traditional published author is blending. Some authors choose a particular route based on their vision for their book. If you decide to go the traditional route for your next novel – you will come across Agents and Acquisition Editors. An Agent is a writer’s advocate, their job is to sell your work to a publishing company and an Acquisition Editor acquires manuscripts for publication.

I came across several Agents and Acquisition Editors attending New York Writers Workshop’s Non-Fiction pitch conference, a three-day pitch conference where writers polish their pitches with conference leaders and other participants, then present them to three different editors from major publishing houses. Acquisition Editors provide feedback and may request proposals and manuscripts after the conference.

Going to the Non-Fiction pitch conference was a risk – taking time off from the job that funds my writing and $425. Ouch! My expectations were balanced. At worst I’d meet other writers and sharpen my pitch. At best, an Acquisition Editor would be interested in reading it.

My first exposure to Agents at the conference was the Agent panel. My take away from listening to the three Agents were the importance of compatibility and fit. Your story may not be what that particular agent is interested in selling. In addition, the Agent may have a different agenda for your story. In essence, a writer needs to have a clear vision for their story to find an Agent that their compatible with and fits within that vision.

The rest of the conference was built around pitching to Acquisition Editors at New York Publishing Houses. The first pitch was done in front of the group of sixteen writers. I was nervous and excited like a first date maybe because I was the first to deliver my pitch. Ha! Her advice was to make sure when delivering a pitch to be clear who the main character is and what he/she is up against. In other words, show what about the main character is driving the story.

The second pitch was private. However, my vibe from introducing myself told me it wasn’t a good fit. But her advice was useful. Make sure when pitching your story you include a moment that defines the book. The third and final pitch was private as well as beneficial. My take away from her was – be prepared to answer questions about your story – short and concisely.

Here are some  Do’s and Don’ts when dealing with Agents and Acquisition Editors:

Agents and Acquisition Editors Dos and Don’t’s

  • Do – research about Agents and Acquisition editors before meeting them
  • Don’t – assume your book will appeal to each Agent and Acquisition Editors
  • Do – have a pitch that includes your story, platform and a bit about You
  • Don’t – be too in love with your project to take feedback
  • Do – write a polished query letter if Agent or Acquisition Editor asks for your work
  • Don’t – act unprofessionally in the face of rejection
  • Do – take advantage of useful information coming from Agents, Acquisition Editors and other writers
  • Don’t – give up

Rashaun J. Allen (@rashaunjallen) is the author of A Walk Through Brooklyn & In The Moment. He has been featured in several publications such as: The Chronicle, The Troy Record, Albany Student Press & UA Magazine. Find his books at

How Writers Make a Living

     My alarm clock goes off. It’s time to get up. I didn’t stay up to 1am to write, therefore, I am in a good position to go into this two-hour writing session with more energy before work as an Assistant Store Manager. I am free from distraction even skipping breakfast. I look at what isn’t crossed out on my to do list: work on memoir, work on blog, write journal and do writing assignment for workshop. I decide to write my blog. It has brewed the most in my head. I attempt to ask an important question, I would usually avoid. Can I make a living from writing?

It depends on what kind of writer you are. Dana Beth Weinberg’s The Self-Publishing Debate: A Social Scientist Separates Fact from Fiction (Part 3 of 3) shows writing income for four different types of writers:

  • Aspiring writers are those who haven’t published their manuscript
  • Self-published writers are those who independently published their manuscript
  • Traditionally published writers typically sell their manuscript to a publishing company
  • Hybrid writers are those whose manuscripts are self-published and traditionally published

Looking at the numbers from her survey, “aspiring writers made no income, while self-published authors in the sample earned a median income in the range of $1 to $4,999, while traditionally published authors had a median writing income of $5,000 to $9,999, and hybrid authors earned a median income of $15,000 to $19,999.” Before aspiring writers become authors do your homework about publishing. I wrote a previous post about where to go to publish. It may make sense to be a writer who has one foot in traditional publishing and the other in self-publishing to reach your fullest potential.

     Let’s face it. Writing is a courageous act for a writer because the road to success has no clear path. Despite working on the next great American novel and having the ability to chase writing gigs that pay; both may not produce a livable wage. It can be a cruel reality trying to find the right blend of writing and making a living. For a lot of writers, writing is the other job after a full day’s work. It could be teaching, or a list of jobs that have nothing to do with writing.

     Writing has to be one of the few passions where achieving the end result i.e. a book doesn’t necessarily change one’s living situation. Thinking it will could be problematic. But your book that took hard should be met with reasonable expectations. What readers, critics, agents or publishers think are valid. They all have the potential to enhance your book sales. But writing rigorously puts a writer in a better position to be successful.  I will go as far as to say having a purpose to write is more important than making a living from it.

As you prepare to make an income from writing here are 10 tips to make a living off writing:

  • Write with a purpose
  • Master your craft
  • Write great books
  • Create a marketing plan
  • Have a great book cover
  • Develop your brand
  • Follow the publishing industry
  • Have a network of writers, editors, readers, agents and publishers
  • Know your audience
  • Sell your work

     My alarm goes off again. It’s time to put my pen down. I mentally switch gears from Writer to Assistant Store Manager. As an Assistant Store Manger, I am responsible for motivating associates to do their best to help achieve profits. As a Writer, I am responsible for my own motivation to create compelling stories. One day a reader of my work wrote me an email saying I encouraged her to pursue her dream to write. She saw me taking steps in my life to write despite countless obstacles. The feeling of inspiring someone is empowering. If only I earned a living from it.

Rashaun J. Allen is the author of A Walk Through Brooklyn & In The Moment. He has been featured in several publications such as: The Chronicle, The Troy Record, Albany Student Press & UA Magazine.