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« Free online translations of non-Western philosophy? | Main | Public philosophy is an oligopoly--and here why this is a problem »

05/06/2022

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agent orange

Philosophers who write literature - novels, etc. - often have agents. You need one if you are going to be really successful at that game. I know a few successful author/philosophers and all of them have agents.

Caligula's Goat

It's also worth asking: does your friend really *want* to live the kind of life where they'll need an agent? Are they trying to work on being less introverted? Is this a direction in life that has intrinsic attraction or worth given what kind of person your friend is?

I say this not because I think your friend shouldn't pursue the public eye but only that professional success doesn't demand it and unless your friend strongly desires to look for work elsewhere that all of this (possibly extra uncomfrotable) work isn't going to net your friend anything material at their home university (though they'll love that your friend's name is in the media, university love rarely translates into higher pay).

Helen De Cruz

I am not quite as high profile as the OP's friend but here are some ideas

* definitely, if a trade publisher approaches you you need an agent. The agent can make the difference in negotiating a good royalty rate, success clause, global rights and translations, audio rights, option clauses etc. It's all fine print but very important, and you will almost certainly not have the expertise to deal with this. Note that relationship w agent is supposed to be an enduring one, so be very very selective. Vet agents, ask around with other philosophers who have agents. Don't jump at one who approaches you immediately, but always vet.

* If you get a phone call or other message from a journalist that requires an immediate response, the go-to answer is "Can I get back to you on that?" and ask contact detail or give a short timeframe. Then, go to Google and vet the person. You want to avoid getting embroiled w disreputable media (e.g., Russian media) or with magazines etc that do not align with your values. Never say yes immediately. You do not *have* to give your opinion to all sorts of issues.

* If you are asked by an editor or journalist and it's bona fide and you cannot do it, recommend others. There's a serious oligopoly with lots of underrepresented voices who never get a say. Resist becoming a universal pundit. Lift other people up. E.g., when asked your hot take on hijabs in public spaces, and assuming you have no expertise, say "Here's X a great female Muslim scholar, you can ask." Added plus/bonus: editor or journalist will be grateful and helps you to maintain long-standing relationship.

* Related to previous point, be aware that relationships with journalists, editors at presses etc are likely long-lasting, and it's in both your advantage to keep the relationship good.

* Internet personalities: look at their track record and how much you enjoyed interacting with them before. If you never interacted w them before, vet them very carefully.

* Research center/other collaborations: My advice on this - having done many successful but also some unsuccessful collaborations (unsuccessful sometimes due to external circumstance). I would *strongly* recommend not starting a research center or a big grant or edited volume with someone without first having done some smaller-scale collaboration. A smaller-scale collaboration is lower-stake and helps you to gauge if you will enjoy working together. For instance, with one person I first co-wrote a book review before we co-edited a volume. Co-writing the book review (low-stakes) helped us to see that co-editing (a lot of work and higher-stakes) would be a fruitful operation. Be aware that many collaborations fail or falter not necessarily due to bad will, but external circumstances (e.g., one paper, never published co-written w a psychologist floundered because she got pregnant and I made a big international move, neither of us had the energy).

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