Author Topic: Representation by an agent's assistant - Thoughts  (Read 379 times)

Offline S14

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Representation by an agent's assistant - Thoughts
« on: April 27, 2022, 10:22:37 AM »
Hi everyone,

Some time ago, as I started querying, I included in my list a couple of agent's assistants actively building their lists. They were all from well established and renowned agencies, hence why I thought of querying them - what they lack in experience and connections they must have in talent and willpower, otherwise they wouldn't have been hired by such agencies, was my line of thinking. Long story short, one of them requested the full, and has now proposed to have a meeting and discuss. Now, I suppose it will either be a R&R or an offer of representation, right?

While waiting for the meeting, I wonder if anyone has any experience or thoughts to share about being represented by an agent's assistant. There are some things I am wondering, like, will they have the right connections with editors in big publishing houses? Will they know how to move inside the industry? How to work editorially on my manuscript, according to what publishers and the market want?

I am pretty sure the meeting itself will be key - sensing or not shared enthusiasm towards the manuscript, an editorial vision for it. A part of me keeps thinking that being an integral part of a well known literary agency must mean they have the tools to operate in the best conditions and I shouldn't worry. On the other hand, am I putting my manuscript at risk of just being a test animal in their own making as literary agents? The fact is they don't really have a trackrecord to show, of course.

Also, does anyone know if for an agent's assitant to propose representation there must be some sort of green light from some senior at the agency?

Thanks to anyone who'll answer!
« Last Edit: April 27, 2022, 04:24:03 PM by S14 »

Offline Jub666

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Re: Representation by an agent's assistant - Thoughts
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2022, 10:49:28 AM »
Congrats on the good news - it's great that they want a meeting with you!

This may help to put your mind at ease:

https://kidlit.com/assistant-attitude/

If you also read the comments, you will see:  TWILIGHT was picked out and championed by Jodi Reamer’s assistant. I believe Stephenie Meyer thanks her in the acknowledgments….

This is also in the comments:  I am represented by an assistant, and she is FABULOUS. Her enthusiasm cannot be matched, nor can her turnaround time. Plus, she knows her stuff. She worked at a big house as an editor, and so when she offered me representation she sent me a 6-page, over-the-moon list of revision ideas–all of which took my book and brought out the strengths to a new degree. She works closely with the agents at her agency, and when it comes time to send to publishers she’ll be pitching alongside an agent who has a list of draw-dropping sales. As she garners more sales experience, she’ll be promoted to associate agent and then they’ll find another talented, promising person to be the new assistant.

This link is also really useful: https://kidlit.com/newer-vs-established-agents/

I particularly liked this comment: Newer agents have to build reputations and go out with great projects, so it isn’t necessarily easier to get past the threshold of a newer agent.

I hope the meeting goes really well.

Jx

Offline damdamdam

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Re: Representation by an agent's assistant - Thoughts
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2022, 03:03:58 AM »
Great link, Jub666.

S14 - that's awesome. Congratulations!

I've approached a couple of assts too, when I've seen indicators that they're building a list. I think most are going to become agents and hopefully stay in the business long-term, and it would be a great opportunity if you could get in while they were still looking for writers. And they have the whole agency behind them, so I don't know if their relative lack of experience makes that much of a difference. I guess they’ll be advised every step of the way. And they've been sort of shadowing the experienced agent they work for, right?

Re working editorially on the manuscript, I admit I wonder about that too. By now, I've got many, many years of experience myself, including a creative writing MA and *cough* years of self-study and workshopping, and most agents starting out don't have that simply by virtue of their age. And I wonder if somebody who's only been out of university a year is going to have the same priorities for my book that I do. But I guess that depends on the individual. And hey, if a book-loving 20-something reader tells me they want more of X in my novel, who am I to argue? I want to please readers! And I guess it would be up to me to decide how to respond to the input, and what narrative solutions to employ.

What do others think? Does anybody have experience to share?

Offline Tabris

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Re: Representation by an agent's assistant - Thoughts
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2022, 06:51:47 AM »
I was working with a junior agent (she wasn't an assistant) who I thought was getting mentored by the agency owner, but in the end, I think she was basically thrown out to the wilds and expected to just magically connect. She then transferred to another agency, and I don't think she was being mentored there, either. Just, "Well, good luck!"

So it would be worth asking any agent assistant or new agent, what kind of mentoring to you receive? Does the primary agent ever look over your clients' work? Do you ever pitch the primary agent just to get a feel for how well your pitch works? Does that agent ever get involved in your sales?  Does the agent you're assisting have experience and contacts in my genre? Will I ever be talking with that agent?

(I assume the last is no, but it makes sense to ask because it  will help figure out just how much the established agent will be involved with the upcoming agent.)

Also, if you find out that no, the established agent works exclusively with adult mysteries and thrillers, but the assistant is really super-duper excited about your YA urban fantasy, that's important information.

Offline damdamdam

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Re: Representation by an agent's assistant - Thoughts
« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2022, 11:59:04 AM »
Oh, wow. Good to know! Tabris, did the junior agent manage to sell your book? Did she give helpful editorial input?
« Last Edit: May 02, 2022, 04:37:13 PM by damdamdam »

Offline LoriB

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Re: Representation by an agent's assistant - Thoughts
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2022, 06:45:32 PM »
I originally pitched a very well known agent who responded that he wasn't taking any new authors at the time, but recommended a young agent that he was working with. The young agent hadn't sold a thing on Publishers Marketplace (I looked). Anyway, I went ahead and sent my manuscript to the young agent. He liked it and signed me. No one else had offered. Anyway, he worked with me for months on making my manuscript better (he was incredibly good. I leaned so much). During this time, he made three sales. He began submitting my manuscript in mid-February of 2022, and we had an offer in early April. Negotiations took weeks, and the senior agent was definitely involved. We all reached an agreement about a week ago (money, rights, etc.), and are expecting to sign-off the final contract this week. So, for me it worked out. This young guy worked his ass off. He was super professional and very responsive.

Offline S14

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Re: Representation by an agent's assistant - Thoughts
« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2022, 01:53:57 AM »
Thanks to all for your thoughts - they cast light on some things I hadn't considered, and now will before the call.

It seems like it's one of those situations you can't draw anything conclusive - that kind of applies to every single aspect of writing and the publishing industry, I suppose. In any case, it's somehow reassuring to hear your story LoriB, and congratulations on your deal. And damdamdam, I share 100% your line of thinking - the belief agent's assistants must be learning the ropes by shadowing their seniors, therefore have their back covered. But then again, who knows?

Tabris, the questions you suggest are exactly what I feel I need to ask (should the assistant propose representation, which is still a long shot as of now). Was wondering, was this junior agent you mention part of a well respected and renowned agency? It's quite scary to consider that this young people can be thrown into the ocean without the support and mentoring anyone at that stage of their career clearly needs. As for my agent's assistant, she's got two deals on publisher marketplace, and at least another client (I should probably try and contact this other person she represents at some point, right?). Also, her taste seems to share some similarities to that of the agent she works for - so much so that I was about to query the senior agent at first, but I thought it couldn't hurt to have a couple of juniors in my list as well, so I opted for the agent's assistant because I liked how she presented herself (and the agency she works for - again, wasn't the agency so prominent, I don't think I would have emailed her in the first place, since it was just my first round of queries).

One thing worth mentioning is that as we emailed back and forth to schedule the call, the agent's assistant mentioned that she'll be circulating the manuscript to the wider team - needless to say, knowing that someone else in the agency was involved kind of reassured me.

Still, I'll need to ask her some more questions. And besides it all, should it just be an r&r call, it'll be great to hear some feedback on the manuscript, finally.