On the brink of launching the third in her acclaimed Roma Nova alternate history series, Alison Morton, a self-published English novelist, resident in France, and self-confessed Roman obsessive, explains why she has just signed up with a literary agent, officially transforming her status from self-published to hybrid author.
Enter the Hybrid
I recently posted on my blog that I had signed with A for Authors literary agency to represent me for subsidiary and foreign rights. As the congratulations flowed in, I was a little overwhelmed by the lovely things people said there and on Facebook and Twitter.
To be honest, I was a little nervous about what my fellow indie authors might say, but their ‘shouts’ of ‘Yay! ‘Way to go!’ and ‘Congratulations’ reminded me what a generous and supportive community it is.
So, new territory for me as a ‘hybrid’ author; I’ve decided to keep my UK print and ebooks rights. However, the Roma Nova series is gathering reviews, fans and love every day and needs to go out to large audiences. I don’t have the sales skills or contacts. I just want to write…
All about time points and quantum steps
When I started writing novels in 2009, my first goal was to complete my book and then to publish it. Like many writers, I approached agents too soon. A full manuscript assessment, Arvon Foundation course, several passes through the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme, beta readers, critique partner, writing groups later, and a lot of rewrites, I learnt my trade. One day, 10 May 2011 to be exact, there was a quantum moment when I stopped being an apprentice and took control of my writing life.
I knew I was writing at publishable standard. This wasn’t me being self-delusional; I had plenty of other professionals’ validation by now – my writing was “intelligent”, “witty”, “imaginative”, etc etc. At a big conference, I pitched to an agent who read my chapters and synopsis who said if I wrote straight (ie not weird alternate history) thrillers, he’d sign me tomorrow. The time point wasn’t right for my subject matter. So I carried on writing the next book in the series and started researching self-publishing. What I discovered was a publishing world evolving at an exponential rate.
The next time point
I went to Portugal with some other writers in October 2012. You know what happens on these weeks, apart from a lot of wine drinking: big decisions. I’d published a short history ebook through KDP earlier that year, Military or Civilians? with 200 academic references, so hyperlinks unlimited! I enjoyed the technical challenge, but it was the proverbial steep learning curve and a huge time-suck. To publish my novels at the quality level I wanted, I realised I needed help, so after a thorough research exercise I signed up with SilverWood Books the day after I returned from Portugal. Quantum step.
The books time point
Inceptio came out in March 2013 and Perfiditas followed in October 2013. Both are well-reviewed and once discovered, readers love them. But despite all my efforts they weren’t getting in front of enough readers’ eyes.
As I prepared the third novel to appear in June, thoughts bubbling in my head about taking the books to a wider audience started to become more persistent. I looked into audio, and marketing in North America. But book 4 was shouting for attention. With all the promoting and launching this year I hadn’t made very good progress with it. I needed help. Quantum step
I saw in a forum that a new agency had just started up – A for Authors – so I sent a short email with an ultra short blurb saying I was looking for representation for foreign and subsidiary rights only. If interested, I would put together a formal submission but I didn’t want to waste their time or mine. I’ve never liked the submission/begging/bagging model. In my view the agent/author relationship is a professional, mutual one.
The next quantum step at the right time point
Annette Crossland, who heads A for Authors, fell in love with Inceptio. The old saying is true – your agent has to love your work. We spoke via Facetime, we clicked, and a draft contract was in my inbox within five minutes after I logged off. I ran it past the Society of Authors and redrafted some of the clauses myself. We signed. And that is exactly how it happened.
To view Alison Morton’s page on her new agent’s site, click here.
What would you have done in Alison's position? Do you have advice you'd like to share about signing up with an agent? We'd love to hear, via the comments form.
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“#Selfpublishing authors – would you sign up with an agent? Why @Alison_Morton did: https://selfpublishingadvice.org/opinion-how-and-why-this-self-publishing-author-signed-up-with-an-agent via @IndieAuthorAlli #hybrid “