If you’re trying to have your first book published and are not gainfully employed, you may initially want to keep that tidbit of information to yourself.
Think from the agent’s perspective and it becomes clear as to why I recommend this. The moment they think you’re writing simply to fill time, your desirability diminishes with great speed. *Lead balloon hitting ground.* If they suspect you’re not in this for the long haul, their potential to make money off your talents is reduced. They may see you as the proverbial one-trick-pony and shy away from your limited earning capacity. As a career writer, you’ll be busier after they sell your work and they’ll need you out and about marketing your book. They may assume you won’t hit the bricks when you find employment. After all, they are in the business of writing, even if you’re not. The same thing applies if you’re retired. Avoid all references to the ominous and, and wonderful, “R” word, if possible.
So, how to do this? Have you heard of the “Sin of Omission?” That’s your ticket. (It’s not my favorite sin, but it does have its usefulness nonetheless.)
So, when do you come clean? When they ask or the subject comes up. But in every case, you must inform them before any agreements are signed. They may consider this a critical issue and you owe them your honesty. You and your agent are business partners and you have an obligation to be honorable and truthful in all things related to your mutual business interests. However, if they’re not your agent, then they are your sales prospect and the obligation is to yourself. At that point, as with anything being sold, put yourself in the best light. (No, that’s not a thin line.)
On the other side, does you current situation preclude you from writing? Not at all. If you have talent, maybe this will become your new career. Besides, some of the most noteworthy authors have started well after their fifth decade. You want proof? Consider Nirad Chaudhuri’s “Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse.” It was published at the start of his second century on this planet.
Your agent is a business person, as are you, and you’re both looking for each other. Honesty and salesmanship is necessary at both positions.
Until my next post, my all your books become best-sellers.
C. Patrick Schulze