Author Topic: Fledgling Agents  (Read 4073 times)

Kaiodem

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Fledgling Agents
« on: January 04, 2014, 01:31:40 PM »
I have started compiling my list of to-query agents and have started researching each one. The first two in my list have come up as brand new agents, and I have found no list of clients, if they even have any.

Should I be worried about these agents?

They definitely aren't at the top of my list.

But if they are at reputable agencies, should this worry me?

Offline bodwen

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Re: Fledgling Agents
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2014, 01:40:36 PM »
Yes. 

Ask anyone who tells you differently how many times they've been agented.

Kaiodem

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Re: Fledgling Agents
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2014, 01:46:36 PM »
Yes. 

Ask anyone who tells you differently how many times they've been agented.


I was thinking I should, especially one agent who's been an agent since 2012, yet no record of sales. Why is she agent?

Anywho, I'm so ecstatic because I found the agent who represents two highly known authors! Woot.

Offline Sarah Ahiers (Falen)

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Re: Fledgling Agents
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2014, 05:27:10 PM »
Some people like newbie agents because they're actively building their lists. BUT. If you're querying a newbie, make sure they're in an established, reputable agency, and make sure you ask them who will be helping them with your submission.
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Offline B

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Re: Fledgling Agents
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2014, 05:55:21 PM »
At least a dozen agents have left agenting altogether just in the time since I started actively e-querying (second half of 2010) - and those are just the ones on my radar. I think wisdom dictates asking whether you'd be signing with the new agent or the agency, should it get to that point. And yes, I'd only query new agents at established agencies. Sometimes even when their pedigree (background, education, etc) seem altogether dependable and they seem in it for the long haul, you get surprised. Without naming names, I've seen it too many times, leaving newly agented writers waiting to hear that the agency isn't interested in keeping them and they're back in the query trenches.

I guess what I'm saying is, protect your career and time and work. Signing on the dotted line should begin happily ever after, but it takes good business sense as much as anything else. That's my 10 cents anyway. :)
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Offline alexatd

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Re: Fledgling Agents
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2014, 10:46:54 PM »
I'm of two minds on this. On the one hand, an agent with no record of sales can be a red flag. But, on the other hand, every agent has to start somewhere, and it can take some time to make the first few sales.

It's important to do your research. What is the agent's background? Did they attend a prestigious program, like the Columbia Publishing course? Have they interned at major agencies/worked under great agents? Are they on their own, or working under an agency? How good is the parent agency? Are they being mentored by a great agent there? There are many things that make a good agent, but a huge part of it is connections. Can they get their client's work in front of the editors who matter? Where they're coming from/who they work with is important in this respect. And even though it can be awkward, if you submit to such an agent and they offer, you need to ask them these questions.

I can think of, off the top of my head, four agents who are new and/or basically have no YA sales... but I would consider all four of them (were I still looking!); one because of a stellar previous employment history (now on their own; but has the industry chops), two more because they are junior agents to super agents, and the fourth because the agency at large has a tremendous reputation (and editors surely pay attention to where the email is coming from). I can also think of several agents off hand that have no real YA sales that I wouldn't sign with because my gut tells me they are schmagents... I wouldn't take the risk. You have to do the research and take it on a case-by-case basis! :)
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Kaiodem

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Re: Fledgling Agents
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2014, 11:01:36 PM »
Hey everyone!

Thanks for all the answers. I just noticed I had replies.

Some wonderful responses here that I will take into account as I continue my research.

Thanks again.

Offline EmmieMears

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Re: Fledgling Agents
« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2014, 10:14:06 PM »
I am my agent's first client (her list has since expanded to about 9 total). She's with Talcott-Notch (Jessica Negrón), and I had originally queried Gina, but Jes fell in love with my book and pulled it out of the slushpile. After an R&R with Gina, Jes was promoted to junior agent and requested the opportunity to offer me representation. I accepted because A: I trust Jes's passion for both my book and her career path; B: she is sure this is what she wants to do and is under the mentorship of Gina as well as the other experienced agents at Talcott; C: I knew I wanted an agent who was looking to represent me for my full career and interested in everything I want to write. Those reasons among many, many others.

In the nearly 12 months I've been her client, she's gotten my books in front of phenomenal editors. With the first MS there were several near misses (it got to acquisitions several times and garnered a bunch of lengthy and very complimentary pass letters from the editors), and once a book gets to editors, it's the work, not the agent that makes it power through the acquisitions process. I don't regret my decision for a second. The relationships we formed with the first editors are a great foundation for both Jes's development as an agent and for my career. There are people who are excited to see my work now, and the new MS we subbed in July got a full ballot of positive first responses (meaning every editor she sent a proposal to wanted to read it). That's how I've judged this first year. She's also made sure her process is transparent, and she emails me updates every Friday.

New agents can be awesome (mine is), but it's very important that they come with experience (some come from working as an editor or some other branch of publishing), reputable mentors/agencies at their backs, or both. The important thing is to vet them as you would anyone else you planned to enter into a business relationship with. If they have clients, contact them. Ask about submission processes, communication, whether the agent is an editorial agent or not, and whatever else matters to you. If something doesn't sit right, trust your gut. No agent is better than a bad agent. Repeat that until you believe it; it's true. If the agent you're researching has sales, see what they are and to whom they sold. If they don't have sales and offer you rep, ask where they plan to submit and who will be helping them along the way. Any agent offering you representation ought to have at least an idea of which editors would be interested, even if they haven't been around enough to cultivate personal connections with the editors yet.

Having several friends who have recently terminated agent relationships for various reasons (with experienced, reputable agents), it's important also to note that experience does not make an agent the right fit for you. Regardless of someone's level of experience, if you're offered representation, make sure you ask candid questions to clarify all possible expectations of your relationship. How you'll communicate, how much you will know about your submission process (basically, if you ask them anything, they should be willing and happy to answer Qs about your subs) and when you'll hear about it, etc.

Anyhoo...just my two cents. "New" doesn't preclude greatness, and as with any other agent offering you rep, you should do your homework to the fullest possible extent.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2014, 10:15:57 PM by EmmieMears »
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Kaiodem

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Re: Fledgling Agents
« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2014, 10:23:59 PM »
I am my agent's first client (her list has since expanded to about 9 total). She's with Talcott-Notch (Jessica Negrón), and I had originally queried Gina, but Jes fell in love with my book and pulled it out of the slushpile. After an R&R with Gina, Jes was promoted to junior agent and requested the opportunity to offer me representation. I accepted because A: I trust Jes's passion for both my book and her career path; B: she is sure this is what she wants to do and is under the mentorship of Gina as well as the other experienced agents at Talcott; C: I knew I wanted an agent who was looking to represent me for my full career and interested in everything I want to write. Those reasons among many, many others.

In the nearly 12 months I've been her client, she's gotten my books in front of phenomenal editors. With the first MS there were several near misses (it got to acquisitions several times and garnered a bunch of lengthy and very complimentary pass letters from the editors), and once a book gets to editors, it's the work, not the agent that makes it power through the acquisitions process. I don't regret my decision for a second. The relationships we formed with the first editors are a great foundation for both Jes's development as an agent and for my career. There are people who are excited to see my work now, and the new MS we subbed in July got a full ballot of positive first responses (meaning every editor she sent a proposal to wanted to read it). That's how I've judged this first year. She's also made sure her process is transparent, and she emails me updates every Friday.

New agents can be awesome (mine is), but it's very important that they come with experience (some come from working as an editor or some other branch of publishing), reputable mentors/agencies at their backs, or both. The important thing is to vet them as you would anyone else you planned to enter into a business relationship with. If they have clients, contact them. Ask about submission processes, communication, whether the agent is an editorial agent or not, and whatever else matters to you. If something doesn't sit right, trust your gut. No agent is better than a bad agent. Repeat that until you believe it; it's true. If the agent you're researching has sales, see what they are and to whom they sold. If they don't have sales and offer you rep, ask where they plan to submit and who will be helping them along the way. Any agent offering you representation ought to have at least an idea of which editors would be interested, even if they haven't been around enough to cultivate personal connections with the editors yet.

Having several friends who have recently terminated agent relationships for various reasons (with experienced, reputable agents), it's important also to note that experience does not make an agent the right fit for you. Regardless of someone's level of experience, if you're offered representation, make sure you ask candid questions to clarify all possible expectations of your relationship. How you'll communicate, how much you will know about your submission process (basically, if you ask them anything, they should be willing and happy to answer Qs about your subs) and when you'll hear about it, etc.

Anyhoo...just my two cents. "New" doesn't preclude greatness, and as with any other agent offering you rep, you should do your homework to the fullest possible extent.

This is awesome advice here. Thanks for the time to put in your personal experience. I guess it really does come down to researching and going with your gut.

Thanks!

Offline EmmieMears

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Re: Fledgling Agents
« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2014, 10:27:44 PM »

This is awesome advice here. Thanks for the time to put in your personal experience. I guess it really does come down to researching and going with your gut.

Thanks!

Glad it was helpful!
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