From the website:
Rogers, Coleridge & White represents a diverse range of bestselling and prize-winning authors from across the world and has an unrivaled reputation for discovering and nurturing new writers. Our agents take pride in managing the careers of some of today’s most successful authors, and we are widely regarded as one of the world’s leading literary agencies.
We are a home for writers across all genres including literary and commercial fiction, crime and thrillers, children’s and YA, and all forms of non-fiction. The agency works with a number of major film and TV agents both in the UK and US who help to bring our authors’ books to screen.
Our offices are in Notting Hill, in West London.
The agency was established by Deborah Rogers in 1967, and she was later joined by Pat White and Gill Coleridge who together formed Rogers, Coleridge & White. The agency appointed Peter Straus as Managing Director in 2006.
The trick with creating success in writing is to do what all bestselling writers have done. That is, try lots of things, find out what works - and then follow the money.
But where do you start? Here's my best advice:
Take a piece of paper. Real paper - and a pen.
Write down a list of writing activities that you believe would provide a nice balance of work for you on an ongoing basis. Then ascribe a percentage value to each. For instance:
Short Fiction - 35% of my writing time
Magazine Articles - 15% of my writing time
Fillers - 5% of my writing time
The Great Novel - 10% of my writing time
And so on. Put as many categories as you like. Then, take the same list and ascribe the monetary income you visualize your writing efforts bringing in over the course of a year. Like this:
Short Fiction - 20% of my writing income
Magazine Articles - 35% of my writing income
Fillers - 25% of my writing income
The Great American Novel - 5% of my writing income
You get the idea...
This exercise helps crystallize your goals and how you're going to find time to work towards them. It could be you decide that ten minutes a day spent on writing fillers will represent just 10% of your writing time and that 90% - an hour and half - should be spent on writing your novel. That's fine. It will be up to you to decide on whether the income earned over the course of a year justifies the time spent on any one activity.
At some point every year - perhaps today - you should write down your writing goals with some prediction as to their worth to you - in monetary terms if that's what motivates you. Then, each year, decide whether you want to rethink or prioritize those goals.
It could be that a novel MS reaps you an advance of $1000 - and that magazine articles secured $10,000 over the course of a year. But it could be that the advance is worth much more to you than the cash.
This is what even the most professional of writers do.
Sitting at home and writing successful books is the dream of many aspiring authors. The reality is very different for 99% of professional authors. They, like us, have to juggle priorities. They know that income from book royalties, especially fiction, is
rarely sufficient. Extra money must come from writing outside of their niche, making personal appearances, article writing, short story sales, TV and radio interviews, doing teaching gigs, mentoring, manuscript assessment, whatever it takes to provide a sufficient range of paying activities.
This is something that empirical knowledge, over the years, has taught them. It's something they just know. As should you.
In a diverse world, diversity is the key to survival. Sticking to one avenue of writing is the luxury of the hobbyist - or a mere handful of bestselling authors. The would-be professional knows different - and is willing to experiment; to do as any professional
does, to learn from experience.
Using Spreadsheets to Track Your Success
A few years back I took a government sponsored course aimed at helping small businesses to write a business plan. Of course, given my allegiance to creativity and my natural suspicion of math and numbers, I was cynical about the benefits I might garner from this.
I went along anyway, partly to move out of my comfort zone and partly, well, I'll be honest now, because the local council, through my local small business network, actually paid me to go. Who said the government did nothing for the individual?
Anyhow. I was so glad I went because it taught me some valuable lessons.
I'd been well used to self-help gurus telling me that writing down my goals - and spending time visualizing the results - helped solidify them in my mind. Little did I expect that this was exactly what a business plan can do. It's exactly the same principle!
You literally write down your goals, including their consequences, breaking everything down into little, do-able (and believably do-able is the point) pieces, and then that becomes the template for how you spend your time over the coming months and years.
The course forced me to write down how I thought I was going to make money over the course of the next five years. It made me be specific, precise and, more importantly, realistic. Scary when you do it but enormously powerful when it's done, not least in convincing others that it's a practical plan and not a ridiculous course of actions.
Especially because, as part of the deal for the course, I had to mark off whether I'd actually done the activities I'd planned I would - and report that back to the government. Talk about motivation! At least it made me focus on my objectives - and actually, like I used to dread, take action!
So, I would advise you, as a matter of urgency, to consolidate your writing plans on to a spreadsheet. Break down your goals into a series of steps, with timelines that you can tick off as you go.
Some of the writers I know, to a certain extent, do this already. They have a list of their submissions and they track whether they've been accepted, rejected, need rewriting or re-submitting. It's a useful tool, worth keeping up to date and studying - if only to remind you that you're not doing enough!
I would suggest you take it one stage further and be more business-like about it. Write down your goals in all areas of writing - even those you're not sure you're up to attacking yet - and review them every week or so to see how far you're progressing. Every week? I guess that sounds obsessive. Perhaps.
I read a quote once that I related to and thought was probably true.
It said, "The difference between normal people and successful people is simply that the successful review their goals more often - usually up to five times a day." Gulp.
Your Success is My Concern
Rob Parnell's Writing Academy
This week a writer asked me a great question - something I take so much for granted that I realised I don't talk about it much!
The question was simple:
"I love what you teach, Rob, but can you give me the names of any popular novels that exemplify and reflect your teaching?"
Where to start?
First, take a look at the top 100 bestselling novels out there at any one time! All of them contain the elements I teach. All of them.
You name a successful author, and I can tell you exactly what they do that makes them commercial and popular.
Anyone from Jeffrey Archer to Poppy Z Brite.
The Fact Is...
I have made it my business over the last twenty five years to study all kinds of popular fiction - in all kinds of commercial genres: thrillers, romance, mystery, fantasy, horror and science fiction - hence, my expertise and my ability to teach these genres.
I have made similar studies in popular film making - hence, I would have to say, our recent successes is screenplay writing.
And just for good measure, I was a pop star once, which gave me huge access to the art of composing and songwriting techniques.
I'm actually a bit of geek when it comes to popular culture. I know lots of trivia too about films, books and music of the 20th century - so much so that in days gone past I was always the guy chosen to answer those questions in local quiz nights!
More important - the thing that makes me different I would guess - is my ability to not just enjoy art and craftsmanship in fiction, movies and music - but to also be able to assimilate, dissect and understand exactly what goes into creating commercial 'art'.
More than that, I can teach exactly HOW YOU CAN DO IT TOO.
I know this because people tell me all the time - daily, and have done for more years than I care to ponder.
I don't know how I picked up this ability - or what it's really for - I just know that if it is a gift, then I should use it - not only to help further my own 'artistic' career - but to help other people achieve their dreams too.
I like to think that's what I do.
If I thought I wasn't teaching people to become successful, confident and motivated artists, I would stop doing this tomorrow!
There would be no point, would there?
Here's a FREE Breakdown of My BEST Advice
1. Choose the direction you want to go in
This may be the hardest part for many - to know with certainty the genre or the road on which you want to travel. Many artists and writers may spend decades discovering the kind of stories they want to write - and the kind of writer they want to be.
But unless you're some kind of polymath, then specialization is the key to success. Choose one area in which you wish to excel and focus on that alone.
If you're not sure, choose something related to what you love already. If you love romance, write romance, study it, learn the genre requirements and live the life of a romance writer.
Don't fight the genre requirements, God no, not yet, absorb them, understand them and write to show publishers you get it.
This advice is true for any artistic pursuit.
Being different is okay once you're there - but if you don't show people you know what you're doing first, then you're never going to get to the point where you can experiment.
This holds true for all great authors - from Stephen King to JK Rowling, from James Patterson to Patricia Cornwell: they proved they can handle their genre first, then put their own stamp on it.
2. Find Out Everything You Need to Know
Read anything and everything related or connected to that genre or direction you'd like to focus on.
Become an expert on your genre. Study its authors.
Learn how the greats have done it. Work out exactly how writers structure their sentences, their paragraphs, their chapters, their entire novels - it's not that hard to do.
Even if there are authors that you're not crazy about, and yet they are successful and popular, study them too. Work out why their writing is effective to their fans.
3. Constantly Improve Your Technique
Make it a lifelong goal to improve your writing - to get better.
Study the basics often. Study all you can about spelling, grammar, style, writing technique, planning and all of the myriad advice around regarding fiction and creative writing.
You can never hear good advice too many times.
And to think you are above the basics is to kid yourself - there is no such thing as a writer who does not find all of the nuances of writing - including the most trivial - absolutely fascinating.
If you don't, then take up gardening. It will probably be more rewarding for you!
And I've saved the best advice for last:
4. When it comes to telling stories, develop the concept fully.
The modern world of commercial writing is not primarily focussed on creating or even acknowledging good writers. You can be the most fabulous writer in your community BUT if you can't tell a half decent story, you will struggle to become a successful author.
Look at all of the bestselling authors of the 20th and 21st centuries - what do you see?
Not the writers. No, their characters, their worlds, their STORIES are what stand out.
Think about James Bond or Sherlock Holmes. Think about Harry Potter, Twilight, Lord of the Rings, The Da Vinci Code.
It's the concepts that sold these stories to millions of readers.
You don't even have to be a great literary writer.
Once they had a good idea that was well thought out, all of the most successful authors of the last 100 years had to do was immerse themselves so fully into their concepts that they were merely recording their worlds for others to share.
That, my friend, is all you need to 'get' if you really want to be a commercial bestselling author.
That's my best advice (for what it's worth!)
Thanks for letting me rant.
Your Success is My Concern
The Easy Way to Write
“If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster.”