Today's post topic came by request last week. Thank you, Fi, for a great question that I think many people probably have. Here's the question:
With regard to literary agents, would you approach a newly founded agency (with lots of industry experience) or hang off and see how they progress?
Okay, well I'm not sure I have the answer to this one because it's really a personal decision, but I'm going to give you some pros and cons on signing with a new agency to help you make a decision.
- More individualized attention: New agents and new agencies have smaller client lists, which means that if you sign with them, you will get a lot of individualized attention. That means quicker response times and an overall feeling of being special. :)
- Hardworking: I know writers who prefer newer agents and agencies because they work so hard for their authors. Why? The new agent/agencies have something to prove. They are trying to make a name for themselves. That means they are going to do their absolute best on your behalf. (I want to make it known that ALL agents/agencies should do this for you, though.)
- No reputation to stand on: New agencies don't have a reputation to stand on when it comes to submitting your work to editors. An editor may not recognize the agency name at all, instead of seeing a well-known agency they've worked with before and who knows the publishing house's tastes.
- You might be the guinea pig: There's a learning curve in this industry, so if you sign on with a new agent or agency, you have to understand that they are new to this and might not have a lot of experience negotiating contracts. However, some new agencies are started by very well-known and experienced agents. I don't consider them to be in this category.
I didn't set out to make an even number of pros and cons, but I think it goes to show that you have to judge each agent individually. Follow them online. See what kind of an agent he/she is. Are they editorial? Do they have relationships with editors at houses you'd like to be with? (You can see this easily on Twitter and Facebook.) Is the agent someone who represents him/herself in a way that you are comfortable with, because if you sign with that agent he/she will be representing you, too.
My advice to anyone querying is only query someone you could see yourself saying "yes" to if you are offered representation. If you're on the fence, wait. See what that agent does as far as sales. If you query someone you don't have faith in, you're really just waisting your time and the agent's. So query selectively. Finding an agent is like finding the person you want to marry. Sure, people divorce and find new agents all the time, but wouldn't it be great to have a long and successful career with someone who will really champion your books?