Thursday, October 18, 2007

Needed: A Publishing Translator

I'm thinking about agents today and about my own agent in particular.

Periodically, I see posts on the Net by people complaining about the 15% fee most agents collect.

While there are some expenses in this world I begrudge, there are two costs to which I never give a second thought. One is the annual fee for my AAA motor club membership. The other is the 15% my agent, Jacky Sach of BookEnds, receives on the revenue from my work.

Jacky is a voice of calm in the hurly-burly world of publishing. She answers questions and smooths over rough spots. And she acts as translator.

Sometimes I feel like a tourist who planned a trip to Denmark. I did lots of research on Denmark, even learning to speak the language. When I arrived in Copenhagen, everyone welcomed me and exhibited great patience for my grammatical errors and slow speech.

Now, more than a year later, my tenses and speech have im-
proved. However, I'm still having difficulty with the col-
loquialisms of publishing although I may not always realize it.

I love my editor. A lot. But sometimes we don't speak the same language. I can be very concrete in my thinking. Occasionally--no matter how hard either of us tries--we just talk at cross purposes. That happened on Monday after I'd sent 13K words to my editor last week. Fortunately, she had the good sense to contact Jacky to ask her to translate for us.

Jacky emailed me Monday to set up a phone call. During the call, I explained that I simply didn't understand what my editor from me.

With the skill of a born teacher, Jacky promised to find examples of what was needed from the book I'd already written. After our call, she went through Bad Girl, identifying samples of what my editor was looking for in the sequel. I did tell you I was concrete, didn't I?

The bell finally rang for me, and I realized what was missing. Jacky asked if I needed another phone call. I said, "No, but let me send you a sample." I worked on it last night and sent her an excerpt this morning.

Just like that, I'm back on track after days of angst.

Do I begrudge Jacky her 15%?

Hell, no.

4 comments:

David Roth said...

As one who is still on the lookout for an agent, as it were, and who has been burned by one of the less than credible agencies (STLiterary Agency, not that I'm pointing fingers or anything) all I can say is, nor should you! A good agent is a gem.

Alex said...

I agree, my agent is incredibly patient, willing to answer any question about industry details or talk conceptual artistic claptrap with me when needed. She definitely earns her money; I only wish I made her more of it!

Maya Reynolds said...

David: I completely agree.

Maya Reynolds said...

Alex: Amen! I feel the same way.