Literary Agents: TOP TEN WAYS to Make or Break that Relationship AFTER you Sign – Part 2 of Number 10

Faith HunterFaith Hunter
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Sorry this is late. Last night was, once again, super-storm night with mega lightning and thunder and I turned off all important electronics, hence morning delays. I really did try to get it online early!

Last week I started a series of TOP TEN things one can do to mess up the literary agent / writer relationship, and this is part two of number ten, Keep the Agent in the Loop.

Top Ten List as it exists right now:

  1. The agent as Negotiator
  2. The Agent as Bad Cop to your Good Cop
  3. The Agent at Cons
  4. The Agent as Friend (when that is possible)
  5. When to Send Prezzies: (cards or gifts and what works and what doesn’t)
  6. When to Expect Your Agent to Drop Everything and Return Your Call/Email
  7. When the Agent Says No (to a new project after you have signed with and worked with him/her for a while)
  8. Know When to Say Goodbye: (when your agent has more problems than you do: Alzheimer’s, health issues, mental issues, drug abuse, bringing in the next {but flakey or dishonest} generation to run the family biz, refusing to pay royalties, lawsuits, and lots of other crazy stuff)
  9. Miscellaneous Stupidities (firing an agent improperly, dividing royalties, divided loyalties, having a big mouth, etc.)
  10. Keep the Agent in the Loop (and the times I failed at this)

KEEP THE AGENT IN THE LOOP! Part Two

In relationships with an agent (as in all my relationships) the dumb things I do seem to come in waves. Part two is about the Rogue Mage Role-Playing Game/World Book snafu, which coincidently, took place about two weeks after the previous snafu with Cat Tales (see part one).

Creating role-playing games based on an author’s existing fiction can take a great deal of time, especially in terms of translating the books’ fictional magic system into workable game mechanics that maintain the feel of the fiction. The game writers have to decide how many character points it takes to build a character or how much creation energy (the name of magic in my world) is required to cast a conjure. Way beyond me—too much math. There has to be world history written, character templates created, talents built, and ten trillion (well, it felt like it) questions answered about how the magic works and how the world works.  The reason I’m telling you this is because all this stuff took time—which was the real problem.

In the case of the Rogue Mage game, the game writers, Christina Stiles and Raven Blackwell, used an existing game system (an open licensed version of a d20, fan-favorite superhero game, which means diddly to me, but honest, it’s important) and altered it to make my magic system fit. Even with a starting base system, it has still taken the game writers 4 years to write, and Spike Y Jones 2 years to edit, and me about 2 years to answer their questions and create the fiction. Actually, creating the fiction was done rather early in the process, and was delightful fun! It let me revisit the world, the creative process, and generate new characters to work with. But again—time was the problem.

Very early in the process, I discussed this project with Lucienne Diver (Wonder Agent and forgiving woman) and we considered bringing her in on the project, but the money was clearly going to be mostly negative (meaning not toward the writers, but, rather, mostly away from us) and so her involvement might have been just pro forma and pro bono. Not something that is usually part of the agent/writer relationship. The last time I talked to Lucienne about it was 4 years ago. Four years. I didn’t keep her in the loop. Sigh. I promise I have learned my lesson.

Christina Stiles (my professional game-writing friend and the game’s developer), Spike (the super editor), and I are close to being done with the game—perhaps as early as this summer. Rogue Mage will come out in trade paperback through Bella Rosa Books, and it will appear as a pdf e-book from Misfit Studios on the various gamer sites (Drivethrurpg.com, RPGNow.com, and Paizo.com). As all bright writers do, (not that I am bright, these days) I started the PR blitz. I announced on my website and FB, showed the cover, started the ball rolling.

And, uh, Lucienne wrote me back with a (paraphrased): “I am dumfounded. Where did this come from?” Nearly four years out of the loop, (and only days after the Cat Tales snafu) she had forgotten all about Rogue Mage, and had to wonder if I’d sold the process to a game-book-company without her involvement.

Sigh. (covers face.) I called Lucienne and all was smoothed over, but I could have avoided it all with an email or two every 6 months. Keep the Agent in the Loop.

Needless to say, I also told her about the crossover Jane Yellowrock/Joanne Walker long-short or novella that I am doing with Catie Murphy to be offered on our websites. And I’ll remind her often as the pub date appears. I have learned my lesson. Really. I’ll be talking to Lucienne a lot more often, even if it’s just one-liner emails to keep her informed.

Now – Comments? Questions? Declarations of my stupidity? Suggestions on which of the Top Ten I should work on next week? (smiles weakly)

Meanwhile, if you are interested in hearing more about the creating games, writing games, gaming itself, come by and Like our Rogue Mage Facebook page . Christina or Spike will be more than happy to answer your game development and playing questions. J

By the way, Christina’s most recent gaming publication as a contributor to Streets of Zobeck, a Pathfinder Midgard gaming supplement, was mentioned as a GeekDad pick on wired.com, and it was DrivethruRPG’s Pick of the Day for June 17, 2011. Christina wrote several feats, magic items, NPCs, and two adventures for the book. Check it out: here . 

Faith
and the various links:
www.faithhunter.net
http://www.faithhunter.net/wp/rogue-mage-rpg/
https://www.facebook.com/official.faith.hunter

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rogue-Mage/110157692409628

http://www.christinastiles.com
http://www.bellarosabooks.com
http://www.misfit-studios.com

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13 comments to Literary Agents: TOP TEN WAYS to Make or Break that Relationship AFTER you Sign – Part 2 of Number 10

  • *scribbles note on graph paper* Keep agent informed.

    Glad to hear you’ve worked things out with the understanding and patient Lucienne. I hope things work out well for your game. I’ve all but given up pnp games for playing on my pc, but who knows…

    Cheers,
    NGD

  • NGDave, agents *want* to work things out with their writers/clients. They want to have good relationships with everyone. Their professional life depends on that.

    As to pen and paper games, with all the storms and electricity surges we’ve had around here, pnp looks better all the time.

  • Heh. It’s hard to beat a PNP game for sheer fun, I think – but it is a vast and all-consuming time suck.

    As an industry… I followed it extensively a few years ago, though I’ve been out of that loop since then. It’s never been a gold-mine, though, let’s say that. I think Lucienne’s initial reaction was probably right: there’s not enough money in it to warrant the involvement of an agent. Producing an RPG supplement is really about a labor-of-love.

    Whenever I think about the future where I’m a published writer, I usually think about doing the RPG version of my book as well… Except, I have this game-mechanic artistic itch I like to scratch, too, so I imagine I’ll be a lot more involved in that aspect of it as well… [sigh]… someday, maybe.

  • Stephen, all writers have such creative drive. We want to do *so much*, so many things, and have so little time to make it all work! sigh….

  • At some point, Faith, I may want to talk to you about the game process and take some notes. For now, I, too, am scribbling “Keep talking to Lucienne” at the top of my notes page.

  • Thank you Faith for baring your soul. It takes character it does. Lesson learned.

  • Leave it to you, Faith, to be so through in all that you to do, to make this mistake twice, just to make sure you really had it down. Rock on! ;-)

  • Eep. Glad to hear that you and Lucienne worked things out. From what you said at the ConCarolinas panel, the game sounds *really* neat (and I haven’t read the books yet).

    I know you’ll get to it eventually, but I’m curious what your definition of “dividing royalties” means. As in, between two authors?

  • David, yes, word to the wise, from the stupid — talk to agent. :) And yes, your worlds would make great games!

    Widder, I don’t know if it takes character or more stupidity. (laughing) But at least everyone here has learned from my mistakes.

    Edmund, I am nothing if I am not thorough in my stupidity. At least WOnder Agent is forgiving.

    Ah! Laura has chosen next week’s post topic! Done! (gavel falls!)

  • Cool! So will you be addressing the entire set of Miscellaneous Stupidities next week, then, or bit by bit?

  • Well, first, I forgot. Next Wednesday is Stuart’s day. I am off next week. So I’ll start number nine the week after and, second … I have no idea how fast it will go! We’ll just have to see.

  • Writing the Rogue Mage game has been quite an experience. I’m ready to get this puppy wrapped up and out into peoples’ hands! Still a few things to do before it happens. But we’ll keep you guys and gals posted.

  • No worries. I was mostly just curious. That entire #9 sounds very intrguing.