Chat Transcript: July 8, 2000
Agents and Electronic Literature and Hypertext with Christian Crumlish.

Literary agents and their roles in electronic literature. Electronic literature brings with it a host of questions on everything from copyrights to formats to publishing. How do brick and mortar ways of publishing translate into this electronic realm? What role to literary agents play and how can they help smooth the paths, promote works, and shape this new publishing medium?

Related Links


-- Start log: Saturday, July 8, 2000 10:24:16 am CDT

Deena arrives.

jenn quietly enters.

lugh arrives.

lugh says, "Hi kiddo - what's the subject? BT's lame patent...?"

Deena says, "Whose patent?"

Deena says, "Today, we'll have a literary agent discussing epub."

lugh says, "British Telecom - you've heard?"

Deena says, "No, I have not heard about the patent... do tell.."

lugh says, "Gods and Thunders! Do you live under a lid?"

Deena says, "Yes. no tv. no radio. no newspapers. Just the net, when I have time. Give me a break!"

lugh says, "O.K... here goes. BT has been pushing (for about two weeks) a US patent on - the hyperlink! They claim to own the web and all other hypertext, Xanadu et al not withstanding."

Deena says, "and what do they base this on?"

lugh says, "I'd thought someone would've written to you - such as lame me."

Deena says, "No, someone is always pulling this stuff. Last week it was Amazon patenting ebusiness or something. "

lugh says, "A patent from 1081, acquired from some other agency and dating to 1967. It's weak, specifying control keys and teletypes, but what with technically maladroit courts... and they are dead serious about royalties et cetera."

lugh says, "1981, rather, not Vikings or any such..."

Deena says, "So do they explain that they are patenting the idea that you can click and go to another page? IF so, they have to go back well beyond 1967. Vanmebar Bush comes to mind, as does Babbage."

lugh says, "I'm afraid one does not have to invent a thing to patent it. It's called legal, even though it's icky."

lugh says, "Vannevar, BTW."

Deena says, "Yep. My fingers are sticky"

Deena practices typing exercises

lugh says, "I'm going to patent the blinking text. Anyone who can still see in a month will have to pay me $350 a year, or $10,000 for their lifetime."

xian quietly enters.

Deena says, "See you are here"

xian says, "Here I is"

xian says, "Lugh as in the Irish/celtic god Lugh?"

Deena says, "Hi Christian, we are still waiting for some folks to show up, but they should arrive soon"

lugh says, "That's me - my friends (and acquaintances and enemies) call me that because I'm an - everything type."

Deena says, "We have links to Christian's site at the General Elit chat links"

xian says, "an 'everything type'? wheezed?"

vlinder arrives.

lugh says, "Xian? It means carpenter, electrician, systems engineer, musician, poet, plumber, welder, mechanic (gas, diesel, turbine, AC/HVAC) et cetera."

xian says, "Hello vlinder"

jenn quietly enters.

Deena says, "Hi jenn"

Deena shares a URL...


Deena says, "We are welcoming Christian Crumlish, a literary agent to talk about epubbing today. This is his URL"

jenn is smiling and reading

Deena says, "Christian, how long have you been working in eliterature?"

Deena says, "Vlinder and jenn, would you like to introduce yourselves?"

Deena says, "I am Deena Larsen, and I have been working in hypertext for about a decade (I feel old!) But this world changes so quickly, it would be nice to have mileposts..."

xian says, "The first time I became conscious of the possibility was (of course) with Michael Joyce's "Afternoon, a story" which came out in 1987, I believe, right after I got out of college. "

Deena says, "And some guidance in how we can get electronic literature in the flesh and blood world..."

vlinder says, "is this better?"

Deena says, "Yes, I can see you now vlinder"

xian says, "I hope I'm not repeating but it said "I don't understand that" the first time..."

Deena says, "Yes, the system doesn't like spaces, but you are doing fine :). When it says I don't understand, we don't hear it, so copy the text and repaste in with quotation marks"

xian says, "Around that same time I read some of the more famous 'paper hypertexts,' such as Julio Cortazar's _Hopscotch_."

Deena says, "Jenn, have you seen any hypertext literature? It is a lot of fun to play with..."

jenn says, "I'm Jennifer Ley Deena ... just got tired of that jley nick"

Deena hands out hopscotch pads

Deena says, "Hi Jenn, it is great to see you !"

Deena sends hugs all around.

xian says, "There seem to be many competing theories these days of what the electronic medium (media?) does for literature, what it makes possible, how it best can be used, etc."

lugh says, ""Xian? It means carpenter, electrician, systems engineer, musician, poet, plumber, welder, mechanic (gas, diesel, turbine, AC/HVAC) et cetera."

xian says, "Lugh, I see...""

jenn says, "you can say that again Christian :)"

lugh says, "Why is that repeating? I'm quitting IE and come back. Windows - bleah!"

jenn says, "lugh it shows you your sentence and posts your sentence"

jenn says, "it's just what the software does"

Deena says, "Software will be software!"

xian says, "My own is probably not the most popular, as I am rooted to a large extent in the old school: I often think of the choices and alternatives left in (possible to leave in) in eliterature as not only something that invites the reader/audience to participate more interactively in the development of the story or work of art, but also as something that tends to reveal the creative process without all the finality and polish of traditionally published writing."

Deena says, "Christian, how do you see traditional roles changing"

xian says, "I see hypertext as a natural extension of alternative canons, apocrypha, alternate folios of Shakespeare, and all the other things in writing that have always mitigated against the ultimate authority of the writer's voice, or version of events."

jenn doesn't think popular is the point ... the field is so young a lot of points of view are valid, don't you think?

xian says, "Deena, traditional roles in the world of publishing? the business aspect of it...?"

Deena passes out spectacles so everyone can see all points of view

Deena says, "Yes, actually. How can we have a business aspect in this alternative cannon?"

xian says, "Jenn, I tend to agree. I disclaim more because I expect to be swept aside as an old fogey when a generation that grew up taking e-possibilities in literature for granted are ruling the roost. At best I hope to be remembered as an Ernie Kovacs-like figure who foresaw some of the possibilities and tried to have fun with the medium."

xian says, "But I'm really here in my capacity as a literary agent today and not so much as a writer or "

Deena says, "Jennifer edits Riding the Meridian, an ezine"

xian says, "...oops, theories of hypertext."

Deena passes out Ernie Kovacs masks to all

xian says, "Cool, I've heard of Riding the Meridian - what's the URL?"

lugh says, "All points of view are valid - and unpopular can be a Good Thing. To accept everything and to dismiss everything are two equally convenient approaches, as both eliminate the need for reflection..."

jenn says, ""

jenn says, "aside to lugh ... I can't figure out how to page you sorry"

Deena thinks of Ernie Kovac's method of putting several cameras together to get that point of view

xian says, "One nice thing about having been epublishing literature on the web since 1994 (when we founded Enterzone), is that I get great art and literary spam (using the term fondly here or ironically, I guess, to mean welcome announcements)."

Deena says, "to page someone, type page NAME "MESSAGE"

jenn says, "thanks Deena"

jenn says, "Christian ... I think it's important to include what you call your old fogey perspective ... today's hot new things is tomorrow's e-fogey the tech changes so fast"

Deena says, "How can we get the next generation to take hypertext for granted? Is there a way we can insinuate the medium into the new world? How do we get the literature to stay in this fast changing world? Can literary agents help do this?"

lugh says, "They do, so long as it's about Pokemon..."

vlinder says, "sorry, still getting the hang of this."

Deena says, "No problem, vlinder. I have a How to MOO link there on the side that may help... But basically, just type " and your message"

jenn says, "I'm very interested in your perspective as an agent Christian (sorry about all the typos)"

Deena says, "Yes, what role do you see for literary agents in this new publishing medium?"

xian says, "aghh! I just lost a long disquisition on punks and hippies and the dialectic and synthesis of the two movements as an analogy! lost in the ether to interface stuff...."

jenn says, "and btw ... Stephanie Strickland and I were looking at No Bird last night ..."

Deena passes out indulgences for typos and vows to keep the pesky things out of the archives.

xian says, "Deena, I'm not keeping up too well. But the medium will have to insinuate itself, and it might come more from the gaming and interactive entertainment experiments than from us, But they'll always need wordsmiths."

Deena says, "AAgg, We mourn for the lost words. It might help to hit enter every so often so you don't lose text. The thought train will be broken up, But we will handle it."

lugh says, "xian? If it says 'I don't understand...' select the text in the upper window, do an Edit/Copy and paste it in below w/the quote..."

lugh says, "So do advertisers - the linguistic quality continues to plummet..."

xian says, "Still trying to keep up. Literary agents are in real danger of having their role defined out of existence (part of 'disintermediation'), although ironically they are well suited to redefine their value as networkers and go-betweens and filters and experts. I'm trying to be a cyberagent and use the Internet intelligently, But I'm taking baby steps."

Deena says, "How can literary agents help insinuate hypertext writing into gaming and interactive entertainment?"

jenn says, "I think hypermedia authors would welcome anyone who could help them get paid"

Deena says, "So we could use the skills of literary agents to network and go between for interactive entertainment?"

lugh says, "I heard that."

jenn says, "at the same time that an agent will run into a mindset that says ... I as author on the net don't need this filter"

Deena says, "Yes, Jenn, oh Yes.... The trouble is that htlit is such an isolated field. We don't know the gamers.."

jenn says, "so .... let's get to know them ... if we think that will help"

lugh says, "So let's write about gamers - get their attention and all that."

xian says, "I do think that agents may be able to integrate hypertext and other experimental writers into a business apparatus that is itself evolving rapidly. Sea changes are underway in publishing, as we all know, But the profound changes are always at the margins. Selfishly, I might say that someone like myself with a background in writing, editing, technology, and publishing might be well positioned to help."

Deena says, "Jenn, I think in many cases we don't need a filter, But in many cases we need to know what is out there."

xian says, "Jenn, you left me hanging... what did you and Stephanie think/feel about No Bird?"

jenn says, "Yes I didn't mean that aggressively Deena ... "

jenn says, "ahhhh we enjoyed it ... and noted the focus is on the text"

Deena says, "I was thinking more about the established ezines where filters aren't really needed... "

Deena says, "BUT where we need a major filter and help is precisely in charting how the field is changing and who we can work with..."

jenn says, "absolutely Deena"

xian says, "Well, an agent could help connect writers with the projects that need that sort of input. Otherwise, the writers will invent themselves, and there's nothing wrong with that But there'll be no crossing over unless we storm the breach."

Deena says, "We need the renaissance man background of literary agents and the network capabilities"

lugh says, "here here!"

jenn says, "renaissance wo/man"

Deena says, "Yes, this is like having Ernie Kovacs saying here is my tv show to only radio people... I often feel that we are inventing great things But are not clever in showing these things to those who might want to use them--to cross over the breach"

jenn says, "so Christian do you have 'clients' yet so to speak"

xian says, "Jenn, agreed on the getting paid. Agents can be good at that, But part of our job is assessing what will sell and helping authors find the healthy compromise between pure self-expression and serving the audience. And, remember, Mary McCarthy I think it was once said "When I die I want 10% of my ashes to go to my agent.""

Deena passes out stormtrooping equipment

Deena says, "I think it may be particularly hard for ht writer to compromise. We have been out on the fringe too long..."

xian says, "Jenn, you're right. The author doesn't need the filter. The reader is the one who needs the filter of agents, editors, reviewers, and so on. But most authors do not understand How publishing works and need a Virgil to walk them through the circles of Hell, as it were."

jenn says, "agrees with Deena ... lots of self-expression going on out there"

xian says, "Yes, write about gamers, throw parties, start a forum that speaks to both, etc."

jenn says, "unfettered as it were"

Deena says, "Yes, the reader is so overwhelmed with stuff out there, that we need some sort of go between, saying this is good for this reason..."

xian says, "Jenn, focus on the text vs... ?"

jenn says, "hard to say in this forum xian ... I feel like I'll muck it up"

lugh says, "So muck it up and we can all hammer it out."

Deena says, "Yes, we are all friends here :)"

jenn says, "But quickly vs. bells and whistles hypermedia gymnastics"

Deena says, "Xian, how could we get the word out about agents?"

vlinder says, "agents and pubs are probably not going to disappear soon."

xian says, "Jenn, Yes I have about 30 clients, But only about 4-5 hypertext or experimental writers. The thing is, there just isn't a lot of money for hypertext writers... yet, But I'm absolutely sure there will be and I'd like to get in on the ground floor, so to speak. Like people who bought expressionist paintings before there was a market for them."

jenn says, "Christian do you think the game aspect will be important in making hypertext lit more commercial"

Deena says, "Christian, what makes you think that there will be money in ht?"

xian says, "Get the word out about agents in what sense (How's my lag?)"

jenn says, "does this worry you as a literary agent, as an author"

xian says, "Jenn, let's discuss it offline?""

jenn says, "pretty please re: offline "

xian says, "Later?""

lugh says, "Xian, you've a game lag...?"

Deena says, "Sorry about that, get the word out that agents can be a network and a go-between for the many changing technologies."

xian says, "Not sure about the game thing-- just suspect that it sugarcoats the interaction with the other media (moving pictures, sound, etc.). Writing could be subsumed into a movie-studio like cathedral building process when most of us want that "room of our own""

lugh says, "Unfortunately, people who grew up with paper can be uncomfortable around a work which they may never 'complete.' The 'new generation' may be a bit more receptive."

jenn says, "I think that sense of completion is an issue too"

Deena says, "Christian, are many literary agents also expanding to movies and actors, etc? It seems like we need an expanded role here for literary agents in experimental media, just as we need an expanded role for experimental media"

xian says, "Deena, there will be money in it because there's already money in literature and people will learn to read it one day. There won't be Stephen King money it for most of us, But there never is..."

Deena says, "Just enough to pay the paper bills would be fine. "

xian says, "I meant lag in the sense of I'm answering questions that have scrolled off my screen."

Deena says, "Ahh. Yes, we can scroll up to see the questions. Don't worry about it :)"

jenn sends xian an extra keyboard and set of hands

xian says, "Jenn, does *what* worry me as a literary agent?"

vlinder says, "But what about the freedom on the net to copy etc. without paying?"

jenn says, "that the sugar coating will overtake the content"

Deena says, "Vlinder, good point. Is that freedom more for copying ipso facto because we can? What about an agent's role in securing contracts and copyrights"

xian says, "usually 'talent agents' handle movie talent and movie writers have agents who specialize in the movie business, although of course the whole 'value chain' is in flux."

jenn says, "vlinder ... I already see some people 'saving' works for cd/rom. release"

lugh says, "My dad's agent dated from the Vaudeville days - he did it all."

xian says, "sugar will always outsell epiphanies on the wholesale market..."

xian says, "the copyright issue is definitely another fulcrum around which roles and possibilities are changing. How to get paid? How to get rewarded for capturing attention? How to get credit?"

vlinder says, "I mean..."

Deena says, "How have the upheavals in publishing in the last couple of years changed literary agents?"

jenn says, "also ... and Christian I'd like your take on this, the I don't need to make money part of being on line strikes me as something people will start to outgrow ... as one spends year after year hear"

Deena Gives everyone a few more ears to follow the multiple threads here

vlinder says, "Hell, I need to make money, thank you!"

xian says, "I think being an expert on 'digital rights management' will be part of How I continue to demonstrate value as an agent, even if my shingle will say 'content analyst' or 'communications strategist'"

xian says, "...someday"

Deena says, "I agree, vlinder. It is really hard to write year after year without groceries. Many writers are doing this in their spare time, But hypertext requires a massive amount of time and commitment..."

vlinder says, "Spare time? What spare time?"

lugh says, "Wow - the changing face of titles..."

Deena says, "Right. There is no spare time at all when you are in the internet :)"

jenn says, "too true vlinder/Deena"

xian says, "Shit.. lost another... was going to say that I don't know much about agents as a whole But my colleagues are paying close attention to experiments such as print-on-demand and ebooks and are trying to participate and have their authors participate in as many opportunities as possible, knowing full well that some are sports that will not ultimately bear fruit."

Deena says, "Getting back, I think Christian has a good point about literary agents as the digital rights management specialists. Christian, How do you keep up with the copyright wars on the net?"

lugh says, "Sports - bear fruit... I like that."

jenn says, "Yes I agree Deena ... rights include less tangible things like mindshare ... or could, couldn't they?"

Deena says, "Jenn, what do you mean by mindshare?"

xian says, "The money/online thing is interesting. We made Enterzone noncommercial and in some ways it's like the kid who won't leave the house and get a job, But in other ways we get to keep plugging away and not "fail" just because we, say, lost our venture capital or our IPO failed or whatever, like some of the more well known publishing venues out there."

Deena thinks of Eastgate, ezines, and others who are in the same boat...

jenn says, "also ... re the choice to be non-commercial, if you've launched commercial creative projects in lit before the net, the sheer freedom to reach an audience this way counts for a lot"

jenn says, "But overtime ... you get *tired* *burnt out*"

xian says, "On the other hand, to be sustainable, anything that takes up your time, labor, and energy had better pay for itself in some way. That may mean that you take your day job salary and use it to by paints and canvas or it may mean that you have sell some of your paintings to justify your efforts as going beyond a hobby. The whole interaction between the inner motivation to write and the urge to publish (go public, make public) has always been interesting. The web and e-publishing and hypertext just add more dimensions"

Deena says, "Yes, the elusive/invisible money online thing is weird. HOW can agents help get some of that elusive money into real money (or as the Native Americans say, from paper water to wet water...)"

lugh says, "What about a 'pen and link' approach? A ezine coupled with a hard publication?"

lugh says, "An ezine, rather..."

jenn says, "I don't ever want to do print again ... distribution is a nightmare"

jenn says, "re: hard copy of an ezine"

jenn says, "although, wait, maybe a cd-rom., Yes"

vlinder says, "Jenn, sounds good."

Deena says, "Most linear writers also have day jobs (median salary for a writer is $5,000 a year... But I do see a big difference in the time commitment needed for hypermedia. Also, we have to pay for equipment, etc."

xian says, "First of all, the cool thing about rights management is that the whole global market is opening up, so let's say I might not be able to get you more than a couple thou for a hypertext novel, But I may be able to market the translation rights around the world to supplement that. I paid out of pocket to translate Milorad Pavic's "Damascene" for Enterzone..."

lugh says, "I was thinking that the hardcopy would have all the adverts and such, while the <password protected> web site would have the content. Oddish, But what isn't?"

jenn says, "aha ... not unlike movie distribution to foreign markets"

xian says, "As for keeping up with copyright wars, I do what everyone else does: Argue about napster on email lists... '')"

lugh says, "Until napster works with Linux..."

Deena says, "And other distribution may be useful--have Napster grab the music, But sell the cd jewel case, or some artwork associated with it. We can have objets de hypertexts rather than objets d'art"

xian says, "You get money by being very careful about what agreements you sign. You can sponsor yourself forever But the moment you ask someone to pay you, you have to study the agreement carefully and decide what rights you are marketing and which you are retaining and How your *partnership* with the publisher/investor is going to play out."

lugh says, "Presactly!"

Deena says, "And that is really where an agent comes into play. I can already tell horror stories about marketing rights and copyrights in eliterature"

jenn says, "absolutely"

lugh says, "Since you bloody well founded the field..."

xian says, "Lugh, I think efforts that mingle different media are ultra cool and potentially very interesting. The electronic world always takes on more life when coupled with a flesh and blood (or pen and ink, let's say) manifestation."

vlinder says, "Xian you also have to watch not to assign rights that will put others off buying other rights?"

Deena says, "Yes, and keep up with global courts decisions on electronic rights, etc."

lugh says, "Wheels within wheels - sounds like a printing press."

Deena says, "Christian, when should ht writers come to an agent? How should that relationship work?"

xian says, "Jenn, I agree. I never had it in me to do a 'zine (And print it and truck it around and try to deal with getting paid later if they sold in the bookstores, etc.) until the web reversed the distribution flow."

Deena says, "Yes, the web has done an amazing amount for expanding literature. "

Deena passes out cheese wheels and wind

Deena mills

jenn says, "great question Deena"

xian says, "First of all, writers should be very careful when approaching an agent.""

jenn looks wary

xian says, "Many are sleazy fucks-- and I use the term advisedly -- who prey on people's dreams."

Deena looks carefully to all sides of the road

jenn blanches and hides under the desk

xian says, "Most won't really talk to you till you've established yourself. They like sure things (And that's the good ones, not the sleazes)."

Deena says, "How can we check out an agent's credentials?"

Deena says, "So the good ones like people who have already messed up contracts to establish themselves... And the sleazes just want... hmmmmm...."

lugh says, "Woah. You sound like a lawyer talking about their profession."

xian says, "There's an awesome site called "Preditors And Editors" that slams bad agents (those who charge reading fees - a major tip-off, no good agent makes a living off *unpublished* writers - or refer to editors with a conflict of interest) And highlights good ones."

lugh says, "Money in advance for their flight from creditors..."

Deena shares a URL...


Deena says, "I found it on google..."

Deena says, "If you want to share a URL, just type @URL And then the URL"

xian says, "thanks, Deena! did you know it or just find it?"

xian says, "There is a 'lawyer joke' aspect. I'm very conscious that a bad agent is a parasite and a con. I'm trying to be a very ethical, open agent, not just for moral reasons But because I believe you do the best business that way, and the whole trick to it is to grow your network exponentially, and good experiences make for good referrals."

jenn says, "And today, with all of us networked up via email ... it should be easier to check references, Yes?"

Deena says, "Yes, if agents depend on their networks, then they shouldn't cut the threads.."

vlinder says, "Deena, that's clever!"

Deena takes a bow in front of the screen

jenn says, "aside ... who runs google? they love elit"

xian says, "The way the relationship works is like with editors. You query the agent. They assess your ms. or proposal and tell you whether they think they can sell it. If they think they can and you think they "get it," you sign an agreement and they represent you."

lugh says, "Well, cancer and malaria do bad business... unfortunately, killing the host (clientelle) seems to be gaining in popularity."

Deena says, "aside, I dunno, but they seem to be the only one that searches well."

xian says, "Google uses a 'How many other sites link to this one' metric that is very smart... for now. Yahoo just adopted google as their search engine, btw."

jenn says, "I saw that the other day ... wondered about it"

Deena says, "Great. Is the way you work with experimental writers the same as linear writers"

Deena passes out goggles for google

xian says, "Right, re checking references. I have a gigantic footprint or e-papertrail on the web and can't hide it if I wanted to."

vlinder says, "I'm told you get different results from Yahoo and Google tho, even now!"

Deena says, "so the web is helping to ferret out the sleazes?"

lugh says, "Fortunately, hypertexts are somewhat harder to steal than motion picture scenarios..."

jenn brb

Deena says, "Christian, how do you go about finding places to place hypertexts?"

xian says, "Well, the good agents like people who've demonstrated their marketability and maybe not screwed up their contract - maybe they just couldn't afford the 15% on their first project or two - But often they are people who've encountered a recalcitrant publisher or some other problem for which they need help."

xian says, "Deena, you ask tough questions... So few places are known to pay for hypertext right now that I'm a bit stumped there. In some ways I think we have to invent the outlets or (as with games, etc.) make introductions across boundaries."

Deena says, "Yes, I think there will be a definite need SOON for lawyers and courts to help with recalcitrant epubs and ht pubs as well..."

vlinder says, "Do agents really earn 15% - I mean *earn* as opposed to *get.* It used to be 10."

Deena hands Christian a sweat band and a towel for hanging in there.

Deena thinks if an agent can get any money out of ht lit, it is more than worth 15%

lugh says, "Why don't ezines pay for them? I mean, that's the best possible outlet and so few use it for anything non-linear at all."

jenn says, "when it comes to building a market ... I think we have to convince readers that they're going to enjoy the darn things and that we're not trying to take away their printed books"

xian says, "Deena, my processes are the same for all my writers. I even make the same announcements to all of them (funny How often a novelist might consider writing a technical book). With the experimental "print writers," like David Alexander, I'm trying to storm the gates of the old-school publishers... With the electronic authors, I'm more still researching the possibilities. I need to build up a database of leads analogous to what I can do from print writers already."

Deena says, "There is just too much complexity with the contracts as they have been written, and they don't pay attention to changing technology. Christian, how will agents help get contracts that change for tomorrow's tech?"

lugh says, "An agent does a lot of legwork, and fees vary by industry. A LOT of legwork, including dead-end MSs."

xian says, "True. We can't act like we're replacing back. Most of us love books (I like to note that book, or liber, use to mean a scroll, and the word for what we call a book - a scroll chopped into uniform pages and then bound - was called a codex; someday book might not imply binding and signatures and all."

Deena says, "Yes, I have been trying to storm the gates of e pubbing, and have not been very successful. I think that an agent would help, as it would represent a more traditional approach and cover the radical literature.."

xian says, " and we do have to promise some kind of benefit or pleasure to the reader. I suspect that the 'great american hypertext' (suspicious concept, I know) has not been written or promoted yet. unless maybe we've got devotees of Stuart Moulthrop in the room..."

Deena Liked Victory Garden and Heigeriscpope. Spends more time with Charles DeLint than Moulthrop...

jenn says, "I really like the Reagan Library"

jenn says, "such a great send up of Myst"

xian says, "Lugh, you are right. I have devoted 100s of hours to mss. that went nowhere. I rationalize that I formed some good relationships and broke-in some leads that will help me someday, But it's tough. For an author, building up a royalty stream can take years (if it ever happens). For an agent, you need 10-20 authors with royalty streams before your commission stream is worth squat, and that takes 3 years minimum if you're extraordinarily successful."

Deena says, "Wow. That is a lot of devotion. Do most literary agents have other jobs then as well?"

Deena says, "How did you get to be a literary agent?"

xian says, "Right, and I was not slamming the esteemed Stuart. I just think our greatest hits are still appealing to us and not the newbies... yet. We're all John Prines and Eugene Chadbourneses, musician's musicians..."

Deena says, "This is a young field, and we need time to grow into it, I think"

jenn says, "I agree re: young field ... And it's important to have people asking these questions within it as it grows"

jenn thinks the Unknown has potential as the great american hypertext

Deena says, "Yes. The works really appeal because I can see the possibilities. Yet there isn't a (Dare I say This) Harry Potter that people just like and want to spend time with and want their kids to spend time with. The hypertexts now (even The Unknown, which is funny as hell) don't make you feel good. They aren't the kind of reading you want to curl up with."

Deena confesses that her work is the same way, a musician's music.

xian says, "I know I've lost some threads now so maybe we'll back fill at the end, But Deena I became a literary agent by joining with Waterside, which specializes in computer and technology books. My day job of writing them things was starting thin out and I was constantly finding or passing along work to others and I decided that the best way to maintain my connections and role as an analyst of This field was to represent other authors and put my own book projects on the back burner. I spoke with another computer-book agency But they couldn't offer me a draw against commissions and as I mentioned, there would have been nearly nothing coming in for years. Waterside was established enough to extend me the life rope I've needed."

jenn says, "well but is Finnegan's Wake something you curl up with?"

Deena says, "No, and it is incredible"

xian says, "And some art is supposed to make you uncomfortable, but most people have a limited tolerance for experiments, newness, weirdness, and so on. In a way you have to trick people into enjoying it, as in... hey that trip to the museum was actually fun!"

jenn says, "mmmm so we need to sell mugs and t-shirts"

Deena says, "Maybe it is the experimentality itself that makes us uncomfortable,.."

xian says, "Maybe the Harry Potter hypertext will come when all kids have little glass book/palmpiloty things they play with and talk to?"

Deena says, "How do we trick people into thinking this is fun, or will people find that it is no longer experimental? Were the first plays or songs edgy and experimental just because they were the first? "

Deena sings loudly and off key Winter is icumen in

xian says, "Most agents do not have other jobs"

Deena says, "Maybe the Harry Potter text will come when kids have seen nothing but hyperlinks grow up and write to their kids"

xian says, "Right now I have too many (agent, author, ebook packager, consultant), but I hired an amazing assistant/trainee in my agency office recently and I expect to expand my practice during the next year."

jenn says, "rats my stomach is making nasty noises so I have to go .... thank you so much Christian, and Deena and others .."

Deena says, "Christian, we need more literary agents like you in the field..."

lugh says, "Welcome."

jenn says, "I'll e you re: Birds k?"

Deena says, "to be links and filters and rights"

xian says, "Deena, re contracts, agents like myself are already working very hard to make publishers rethink electronic rights, etc."

xian says, "Thanks, Deena. I'm trying..."

Deena says, "Good. I think that will make a large difference in where This field goes..."

lugh says, "Ahhh... say 'Hi' to Autumn when it comes..."

xian says, "Thanks, Jenn."

lugh shares a URL...


jenn says, "smile"

Deena lol

xian says, "great!"

lugh says, "I had to..."

jenn says, "bye all"

jenn has disconnected.

The housekeeper arrives to remove jenn.

Deena says, "We covered a lot of ground, lost threads and all... But I think we really can see the role of a literary agent in This new field."

xian says, "Well, just helping authors understand how publishing has worked and will work is part of the battle"

xian says, "It might be nice to clean up the script and try to sort out q's and a's?"

Deena says, "Yes, that will help a great deal. "

Deena says, "I will sort out the q and as tonight and have This as an archive."

xian says, "Great! Let me know if I can help or fill in blanks."

Deena says, "The archive has really been a valuable place for people to search ideas and is a springboard for more people."

Deena says, "I will. And if you read the archive and want to add anything, please let me know"

xian says, "Now that I'm set up here I'll be back for future chats. Funny How even someone fairly savvy with This stuff will still avoid the shock of the new."

xian says, "I'll do that."

Deena says, "Ah Hah! that may be part of the problem..."

lugh says, "My shmoo is signing 'want more eat;' gotta go - sorry 'bout that."

xian says, "Sometime we need to pick up on your own efforts and plot some strategy."

xian says, "Thanks, lugh."

Deena says, "The next chat will be Tues. July 26 with Melinda Rackham of Carrier"

xian says, "This has been really fun."

Deena says, "See you soon "

lugh says, "I'll be there - xian, will you show up anyway...?"

Deena says, "Thanks so much Christian. and Yes, we need to get going on Disappearing Rain. I'll call you,"

xian says, "Yes, for sure."

Deena says, "Bye for now, I will go turn of my computer and play."

-- End log: Saturday, July 8, 2000 4:23:08 pm CDT


Related Links: