Pub Rants

Referral Power?

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STATUS: Good. Signed another new client today (very exciting). Met my husband for lunch at Skyline Park. It was 75 degrees at noon in Denver today. Could work for another four hours and get some queries and partials read but it’s not going to happen unfortunately.

I apologize if you’re waiting on me. I have read all queries through March 10, 2006. Sad, I know. You’ll be happy to know that I start interviews this week for my new assistant. Can’t wait to have that person trained and set them loose.

What song is playing on the ipod right now? MYSTERY by Indigo Girls

I tried to post this earlier but my blog was down for maintenance. Sorry for the delay.

This is part rant and part observation.

Every once in a while, I’ll get an interesting query that will say that one of my current clients recommended that this writer should contact me.

Then I’ll read the query and it’s not something I would remotely handle. I’m like, “what the hey?”

Because I usually find this entertaining, I will forward the query on to my client who supposedly made the recommendation. Needless to say, they are stunned, apologetic, and a little miffed. In most cases, this query writer emailed a question to one of my clients and that person was kind enough to answer. How that got translated into a recommendation…

Tiny word of advice. Don’t smite a kind action. It might encourage already published authors to be wary of giving their time.

If my clients want to refer a writer my way, they’ll send me an email so as to give me a heads up. Don’t claim a recommendation that really isn’t because I’ll discover the truth (and then I can’t answer NO fast enough).

Now, does an actual client referral give weight? Absolutely. I usually read those partials personally (as opposed to Angie giving it first look) and in quick order (but please forgive my lapse lately because I’m really far behind.)

Have I taken on a new author via a current client referral? Not yet, but that day will come.

The best referral is when you can get an agent with a full client list to recommend you to another agent. That’s read in a hurry. Same when an editor refers an author my way (it happens) and especially when they are referring an author for whom the editor wants to make a deal with and he/she would prefer negotiating with an agent (and yes, that happens too).

I’ve signed one author from a pitch session. Would love to sign more and I think that will happen in time (I’ve got a lot of conferences coming up).

And I’ve signed two authors who got recognition thanks to POD Girl (and that’s a referral of sorts). What a gal!

But to be honest, most of the clients I’ve signed were from cold queries sent to me by email.

6 Responses

  1. Anonymous said:

    Even when someone tells me to drop their name, I will not do it. I feel the same way, Shelli.

  2. Anonymous said:

    I have had discussions with published writers via e-mail back and forth and when I informed her I was looking for an agent(she asked first. I didn’t volunteer the info.)she did refer me to someone. If she hadn’t said that she knew this agent very well and I could use her name, I wouldn’t have. Luckily, she did and I got preferential treatment from said agent. I didn’t end up signing with him (I found another agent who was a better fit) but it was wonderful of her to recommend me in the first place. It was all very professional and sometimes in this business, you can use a little help to get your foot in the door.

  3. Rachel Vincent said:

    I had personal referrals to two agents, and neither of those worked out. My agent found me in her slush pile. And most of my published/agented friends were “discovered” the same way.

    Slush piles are not the end of the world for writers. Sometimes they’re the beginning of something truly wonderful.

  4. kim reid said:

    When someone suggests you use their name, it goes from name-dropping to a referral. I’ve been trying to get a meeting with a prospective client for weeks. A friend told me to use her name, I did, and by the end of the day had an interview with the managing partner. That’s called networking, not name-dropping.

  5. Cindy Procter-King said:

    I once got a request from someone I barely knew (and only through a writer’s email listserv) to query my former agent using my name as a recommendation. I thought the writer had brass ovaries–I would never do that. I *have* used author referrals in agent queries and submissions before, but the author offered before I even thought to ask, which is how I think it should be. I question authors about their agents, sure, but I would never expect them to offer a recommendation. I think someone has to be pretty darn familiar with your work and your personality before they would or should do that.

    I chose to believe that the writer who emailed me wasn’t familiar enough with the industry to realize she was committing a faux pas. However, she put me in the uncomfortable position of having to say no and then contacting my former agent to give her the heads-up. Did I receive a response to my “Sorry, no,” email, a “thank you, anyway, blather, blather”? Nope.

    It’s nice to know that agents who get these “recommendations” follow-up with the clients in question just to make sure everything’s on the up-and-up. That’s what I would want any agent representing me to do.