The above was the notice for the Singapore Rights Fair that was held in conjunction with the Singapore Writers Festival. It was a good start for the inaugural Rights Fair that saw agents from Malaysia (me) and America as well as publishers from Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Apart from meeting publishers, I was looking forward to meeting writers. I met several but I understand the Singapore Writers Festival had everyone busy going from one session to another so they could only visit the Rights Fair during breaks. I was pleased to meet Dave Seow, children's book writer who has published almost 30 books and we are pleased to represent him for his next series of tween books that I am really excited about. It was good to meet Susanna Goho Quek who we are already representing. Susanna is working on a beautiful picture book that we hope will be published in March next year.
Kenneth, Festival Manager at the National Book Development Council (and RA of SCBWI Singapore) was his usual charming and helpful self. And Mr Ramachandran, Executive Director of NBDCS visited us at the Rights Fair carrying a leather bag and an umbrella (it was raining intermittently in Singapore but with foresight, the fair organisers had provided umbrellas) and I thought of the debonair Mr Steed in the Avengers.
A few people came to find out what a literary agent does and in brief, here's what I have to say:
1. We represent you to get your book published
2. We take care of your rights by among others, negotiating contracts
3. Once a publisher has signed on a writer, the publisher will work directly with the writer but the agent can be helpful as a middle person to mediate any subsequent issues.
But before all the above can happen, you need to submit your manuscript to us and we will decide whether we can represent you successfully or not before we say yes. This means we believe we can find a publisher for your ms. If we don't think we can, we will have to say no as it's not fair to the writer if we say yes and nothing happens. Once we agree to represent you, we will prepare your ms for presentation to the publisher. This means we may need to 'tidy up' your ms and you may need to make some changes but they should not be major changes. Our agency's policy is not to accept ms that in our opinion, requires major changes.
For children and YA, I and Yusof will be reviewing your ms. For general fiction and non-fiction (motivational books), Janet, our editorial consultant will be reviewing your ms. We accept children and YA, general fiction and non-fiction. You may send us soft copies of your ms. We will also need to know you as your track record, your background and interests may provide us a link or angle to sell your ms (and for the publisher to sell your book). So please don't send us anonymous mail and don't use pseudonyms (at least not now).
How are we paid? We are paid 10-20% of whatever the author gets depending on whether the book is sold to a local or foreign publisher. We do not charge for evaluating your ms. We will require reimbursement for extraordinary expenses such as overseas postage but you will be informed before the expense is incurred.
A few people came to see me with book ideas. Some of the ideas were very good. But they need to be written down and my advice is to start writing and then rewrite. You may find that your original idea is perhaps not so good after all or that it has changed significantly as you write. But nothing happens until you write.
Some people wanted to know what the current trends are; what are publishers looking for? You can start by visiting bookshops and see what books are being published and how yours are going to be different. This is a commercial view of writing. Writing is creative and you write because you must or you enjoy it. And the secret to becoming good is to start and to keep at it.
The above is how our agency works and may be different from other agencies. Linda