Episode 113 – Tim Beals transitioned from being an author to partner with authors as an agent.

Show Overview

  • Tim Beals transitioned from being an author to partner with authors as an agent. After college he worked for Zondervan in a variety of roles from proofreader, to editor, to acquisitions editor, to publisher. He spent the first 25 years of his career in publishing. Twelve years ago he founded Credo Communications and Credo House Publishers. In this interview we talk about agents, what they do, what they cost authors, how they specialize, the benefits of having an agent, when to approach an agent, what to submit to them, concerns when looking for an agent, how writing across different genres affects an agent representing me, and much more.

What is the Basic Job of an Agent?

  • They negotiate contracts, circulate projects, and record royalty reports. Most agents have gotten their start in some area of publishing, not as authors. Some agents are generalists, but many specialize. They may specialize in fiction, children’s literature, or the whole gamut of nonfiction.

What Agents Like

  • Most agents have a speciality for a kind of book and author that they prefer.

Can What Agents Want Change Over Time?

  • Most agents list what they are looking for. This can change as the market changes. Some agents may not do certain sub-specalities – for instance, we do fiction, but not science fiction.

What is Your Scope of Publishers and Editors?

  • We work with about 50 publishers and 230 editors. Most authors don’t have access to that kind of a list. Most publisher require or desire authors that are agented.

On Attending Conferences

  • I think writers conferences are one of the best ways authors can gain access to publishers and agents.

On Having an Agent

  • Having an agent is an investment in money because you are giving up 15% on your advance and royalties. But you are gaining a tribe of people to help you as a team and an agent is a key party of that team. You should never pay anything upfront. Agents are paid through advances and royalties that authors earn.

Do I Need an Agent as an Author?

  • In most cases, authors need an agent to gain access to a traditional publisher.

What I Need to be Concerned With When Looking for an Agent

  • You should get speedy replies. Replies taking weeks or months is unprofessional. You can learn about agents by talking to authors represented by agents you are considering.

When to Approach an Agent

  • You should approach an agent only when you have your very best work to show them. Don’t make them guess at what it might become.
You should only approach an agent only when you have your very best work to show them. @timbeals Click To Tweet

On Finding an Agent

  • One of the best ways to find an agent is to attend writers conferences where agents are represented. As your writer friends who they know and whether you can get a referral.

What Should I Send to an Agent?

  • With fiction we need to see the entire manuscript. With nonfiction, it’s a bit simpler. Two or three chapters. It could be chapters from different sections of the book to give the publisher an idea of how you will develop the book. The chapters don’t need to be sequential. Having at least 5000 words to asses is helpful. It’s best to put all this in one file but we will accept them in individual files.

How I can Help an Agent?

  • Begin with the end in mind. Remember that the end goal is to get a yes from a publisher, so they need the information that will get them to a yes. This means your proposal, sample chapters, your platform and even your tribe.

How To Find Me

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