Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Writer Wednesday: Should You Query New Agencies?




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.

Pros:

  • 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.)

Cons:
  • 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?

30 comments:

  1. Thanks, Kelly. That's raised some issues I hadn't even though of. Very helpful.

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  2. Excellent advice, Kelly! And I do think there is a difference between a new agency composed of all new, unknown agents and a new agency founded by an experienced name in the business. That makes a difference!

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  3. Kelly, I think you are on point with this one. There are both pros and cons to querying new agents so the best thing you can do is feel them out. Your advice is great and gives us all something to think about.

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  4. Very good advice, Kelly. At this point I'm not particularly looking for agents.

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    1. Yes, some prefer to go it alone, and there is nothing wrong with that. You've got to do what's best for you.

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  5. excellent advice. Research is key in this industry. And it is really like a marriage. When I first spoke with my now agent about a revision she was interested in seeing, I just knew she would be the perfect one.

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    1. It is like a marriage, definitely. You have to really click with the person and have the same vision for your work and your career.

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  6. Great advice. Sounds similar to trying to decided whether you want to go with a new small press publisher or an established one.

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  7. Your pros and cons list sounds spot on. You're taking a leap of faith, so, as you say, don't query if you think you won't seek their representation.

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    1. Exactly. You really have to think things through before hitting send on that query letter.

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  8. Lots of people I'm sending this to! Thanks for the thoughts, Kelly. I personally stayed away from new agents when I was querying because I wanted an agent with a list already established—I don't have the time or money to spend with a new agent waiting for things to happen. Though I know plenty of people who are not chomping at the bit to make money who could totally be patient and happy with somebody new.

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    1. All agents are new when they start out, and they have to start somewhere, rights? I think a new agent with an established agency is totally fine. They have other people to turn to if need be and they have the agency's reputation behind them.

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  9. Great post! Your pros and cons are excellent. I think many of us hope to have a long and happy life with an agent who will really champion our books. I know I do! Luckily, I love my agent. :)
    ~Jess

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  10. Great advice! I'm always comfortable querying new agencies where the agents have worked w/an older, more established one. If it was someone out of the blue with no experience, that would make me edgy!

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  11. I agree with Leandra. If the agency is new, but the head agent has worked elsewhere as an agent, then I'll query them. Some new agencies seem to have little or no background info. I'll bookmark them, but rarely revisit to query.

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    1. Yes, new agencies formed by established agents are totally fine in my book.

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  12. I'm not querying at the moment but it's still very good to learn more about it. For me, credibility and sincerity (honesty & hardwork) are both important, perhaps the latter more so. So going with a new agency that is willing to work hard and forge a relationship with the author could turn out very well.

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  13. I would have no problem querying new agents at established agencies, or new agencies formed by established agents, assuming all the normal research checked out. But I get squeamish when new agents start new agencies.

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