Monday, September 14, 2009

Letting the Agent Down Nicely

Dear Wonderful Prospective Agent:
I have not been totally honest with you. You would have learned my true identity, if you had simply reached the end of the novel I sent you but, that's okay.
My name is David Anthony Kearns. As I tell you on the last page (about the author) Declan Fitzwilliam is an alter ego: a pen name I am using for my Irish novels, and there are three of those now.
I did this pen name business because there are also at least four David Kearnses found on google all of whom are relatively famous but yet not world famous authors. Agents and publishers get confused, and miss a chance at something great by making snap decisions. I didn't want that to be based on sales numbers from David T. Kearns (former president of Xerox) or David Kearns (expert in primary education) or Dave Kearns (Linux master and networking guru) Now I simply don’t care about all this, but I keep the name Declan for this novel anyway.
I, David Anthony Kearns, am the published author of "Where Hell Freezes Over: An Amazing Story of Bravery and Survival" (Thomas Dunne Books 2005) a non-fiction account of my father's plane crash in Antarctica in 1946/47. You can still find it on the outline of a beautiful aircraft barely discernable in the giff on the page.
Back to people making snap decisions: I am not about to find a publisher using my own name even in fiction when someone has but to check on Amazon and see that my current title isn't exactly tearing up the charts.
I also suspect I am on a blacklist somewhere for some unwritten infraction or other (and there are so many for us, especially male writers sans diva-diary these days), some failure to be a good little boy in my past dealings with agents, publishers et al. I only acted in the best interest of my project, my one published credit, which would still be locked in contract limbo, had I not made a break with certain parties.
To that end I am amassing everything I have ever written in this crusade of mine to become a successful publisher author, and I am putting it on the web; bare-assed naked for all the world to see. I have not just the one novel, I have more than six now, along with a novella or two. Plus a non-fiction proposal under my own name about marijuana grow houses.
Now, no one can see the viability of this project which I find extraordinary but then, maybe someone will steal this project and give it to a “platformed writer” which what can I do? I did not invent marijuana nor grow houses, so whatever. At least the story will out which is very important.
I am not really sure why I do all this at this time; putting everything on the web in blogs, that is. I do know it makes me feel better. I know that since I began this quest, right about the time my last novel The Wizard Earl; found a resounding gong of silence from your agency, I have received more than 1,000 bonafide hits, and nearly 700 visits to my profile since late July. I gain followers on this amazing new toy called, Twitter, every day. It is, as they say, a start.
I have the first novel in a trilogy concerning UFOs is called Monster Hole. I am working on the second book despite repeated warnings from those in the know that UFO even in fiction is a no-no (tssk tssk another rule you were unaware of naughty boy).
I have a wonderful black comedy, as total coincidence would have it, about a writer whose project gets locked up in contract limbo by a non-performing publisher, and an arrogant lit agent. He flips out in a major way. This work 3/4 of the way posted on the web, is called The Dead Agent. Rest assured I am quite sane, or at least reasonably so, and the novel is so outlandish it should not be an indicator of my mental state but more, to that of my character and second pen name, Gary O'Brien. Gary is waaaay more impulsive than I am in and we all are thankful for that.
I have a supernatural novella underway also called Red Dancing Bear Red Dancing Bear is a Seminole Indian also found in the novel Monster Hole.
I have a site also, for my comedy, commentary, general kvetching and whining which I do a lot of , called There, you will find this post, if you are interested.
It is the beginning in a four part series, which details what precisely, without naming any naughty names, happened to Where Hell Freezes Over, formerly known as Highjump: The Story of the George 1 which I will also be posting on the web, as an uncut version, complete with photos NOT SEEN in the book as it was presented in book stores.
The Wizard Earl, which I thought was an excellent fun novel, given with a minimum of controversy, should have been a no-brainer for the system and your agency. As I said in my lengthy, pleading, begging email to you, and only you, no one else got that presentation, Savannah and this business of Irishness has not been touched by the book industry and it should be.
When I informed you I had someone approach me for it, understand that it was Declan’s alter ego, David Kearns, who did so. He wishes to get this novel posted on the web along with all the others before the idea, concept and so on, either vanishes or is randomly stolen from him.
You told me, in your last curt email, that I wouldn’t hear from you for a month and that you had assigned the book off – without checking with me first – to a “first reader”. Two months later no word, and I send to you to let you know “I have been approached” Wham. You are immediately interested again and you really want me to tell you who that other party is.
(yawn, smile)
You know, I have been pitching things to agents for years now. Here are the road signs that a prospective agent doesn’t like me, respect me, or want to deal with me even handedly. 1. They make me sign a contract that says they can’t be sued if their agency “just happens” to work with someone else on a project nearly identical or completely identical to the one I have pitched to them. You didn’t do this, for which I am happy. 2. When they inform me, after the fact, that someone else, an unknown third party, who may or may not work for their agency, now has their hands on my manuscript. 3. When they ignore the project I have sent them, right up until the moment, someone else may be interested in it. 4. When,3,2 are in place simultaneously AND they immediately email back wanting to know who that other party may be?
Here’s the scenario. You ignore the project UNTIL someone else may be interested. This is THE ONLY criterion, for which you REOPEN the dialogue with the writer. And people actually go for this? People actually tell you who that other party is? Amazing!
I am reminded of the scene in the film Get Shorty where Travolta thwarts an effort to get him thrown in jail and then is told he must give the locker key back. Remember that scene? What did Travolta as Chilli Palmer say?
“I can’t believe this is how you people do business!”
Well, no need for recriminations here. We have not signed any paperwork but I have our emails back and forth should someone mysteriously have my project published under their name. I also fully intend to have this project posted on the web within 24 hours.
This little exchange is a prime example of why I must post my stuff on the web, all of it, and now. I mean, who really knows what you people are up to these days? I certainly don’t.
But I thank you for your efforts, such as they were, regarding my manuscript. We recall that communication is the cornerstone of any successful relationship.
David A. Kearns AKA Declan Fitzwilliam

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