You folks found out about Fuzzy Nation a week ago and it was sold to a publisher pretty rapidly after that, so from an outside point of view it looks like things went pretty quickly. But behind the scenes this process took months and months to happen, and it simply would not have gotten done had not my fiction agent, Ethan Ellenberg, made the effort to make it happen.
I very literally sprung Nation on Ethan unawares, during a period in which I was supposed to be working on something else — there was a phone call that went something like this: “Hey, you know how I said I was writing something new? Well, it’s kind of a reboot of someone else’s book and most of the series is under copyright and I haven’t actually gotten permission to do it and it’s possible some fans will burn me for blasphemy, what do you think?” — and he would have been fully within his rights to be exasperated with me for wasting my time (and his). But he did the opposite: He read it, was enthusiastic about it, and then went to work on it, contacting the right people and methodically unraveling the issues of rights and licenses. It was a lot of work, in point of fact, and if it had been left to me it wouldn’t have gotten done.
It’s a shibboleth of the writing trade that you need to get an agent, but sometimes from the outside of the trade it’s not clear what advantages an agent provides. The Fuzzy Nation process to me exemplifies the advantages a good agent brings to the table: getting behind a client’s work, knowing the right people to talk to about it, having the persistence to get a deal done, strategizing next steps, bringing the work to the right publisher and getting the right deal for the client. I had always been impressed with Ethan’s work on my behalf before this deal, but this deal made me realize I was genuinely lucky to have him as my agent.
I’ve already thanked Ethan privately for his work on Fuzzy Nation, but I think it’s not out of line to let you all know about it too. I’ve mentioned before that for as solitary as writers are supposed to be in their work, if we want to be published we end up depending on the competence of a lot of other people. This is another example of that fact.