Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Toolbox Tuesday: Sword

I've already addressed a writer's need for armor in this industry, but what warrior of the pen would be complete without a sword?  Yes, even those of us who choose the pen to fight our battles need to get down and dirty every-so-often.  I'm not talking literally stashing away some throwing stars with the names of people who reject you on them.  I'm talking about standing up for yourself and fighting back when the industry attempts to roll you over.

What do I mean by this?  You need to be your own chevalier if you don't want to get stomped on or lose sight of who you are and what you represent.  If you have an agent then you have an ally.  They can help fight a publisher for your contractual rights and the true worth of your work.  BUT there may be times when you even need to use your sword against your agent.  A perfect example from my own experience came about during the editing process for Scar-Crossed.  For the most part, I agreed with what my agent told me needed to be fixed, but there were certain things I refused to budge on.  I didn't want to change certain words because she thought they might be too difficult for YA readers.  I said, "They need to be challenged."  So, I left them in there.  And, like a good agent, she respected my opinion.  We came to an understanding and now my choice of words is something that will stand for future pieces.

If you don't have an agent you need to be even more inclined to take up your sword and fight.  You'll be working out your own contracts and agreeing on your own fees.  Your going to need to work to keep your head above water, get yourself noticed, and prevent publishers from taking advantage of you.

It sounds like something so simple, but often we get into this habit of telling ourselves, "Well, they know the industry better, so they must be right."  While that is true a lot of the time, it's not always true.  YOU are the novelist, you know your characters and your story best.  You know what you want in a contract, you know how much you are worth, and you know what you are comfortable with.  If something rubs you the wrong way, (as long as there is a clear and reasonable reason behind it) then don't do it.  You'll ruin the integrity of your own work and lose respect in yourself.  If your agent or editor refuses to accept your feelings, then you'll have to compromise...or duel.  Each one of you should come out of the situation feeling like you haven't lost everything.