Thursday, October 6, 2011
Who leads the way, writers or agents?
Recently, three New Zealand-based crime writers discussed the role of agents in publishing at an event at the Dunedin Public Library. Contemporary Kiwi crime queen Vanda Symon, along with police officer turned writer Bill O'Brien, and US immigrant Lee Wood, were on the panel for the event. You can watch the video of the discussion above.
Symon is of course the author of the acclaimed Sam Shephard series of Southland/Otago-set mysteries (the latest being #1 bestseller BOUND). Next year she will release her first standalone thriller.
O'Brien writes fiction and non-fiction for children and adults. He is perhaps best known for his book ARAMOANA: 22 HOURS OF TERROR, which was the basis for the intriguing Kiwi film Out of the Blue. You can read more about the Aramoana incident here.
Wood is the author of the Inspector Keen Dunliffe series (KINGDOM OF LIES (2005), KINGDOM OF SILENCE(2009)), which is set in the UK, although Wood is of US origin, and now lives in New Zealand. She had previously written science fiction novels, including LOOKING FOR THE MAHDI (1995).
The issue of agents is an interesting one within the New Zealand books community. While agents are commonplace overseas, New Zealand is somewhat unique in the fact that many writers don't start with agents, and publishers here may accordingly consider unsolicited manuscripts more than their overseas counterparts, rather than filtering things through agents first. However, having said that, the chances are still slim for any budding New Zealand writer to get published - whether they are able to go direct to the publishers here or not. Symon, O'Brien, and Wood all have agents (UK-based, NZ-based, and US-based respectively), so are in a good position to give insights about the benefits and challengings of gaining, and having, and agent, as a writer.