Pub Rants

Website Calling Card

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STATUS: I watched the best movie this weekend. It’s been out for years. I had heard good things and it finally queued up in my Netflix list. It’s rare that I get excited about a film (which is why I rarely see them in movie theaters since I never think the money I spent to see it was worth it). But for this movie, I would have paid $20.00 to see. It’s so easy for filmmakers to make a heart-warming film over-the-top and cheesy. Not so with THE STATION AGENT. If you haven’t seen it, I’d add it to you queue.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? THE ONE THING by INXS

I’d like to spotlight here that the only thing I really want writers to take away from my last blog entry and that is this: the agent/agency’s track record of sales is most important. (And yes, new agents at really effective agencies are just fine. They have a built-in mentor to guide them and as long as the agency’s reputation is solid, it’s fine.)

All you need to know about whether an agent is effective or ineffective can be answered by research that will give you the sales information. And if it’s hard to find, well, that’s an answer all in itself as well.

But an agent/agency’s website is simply one tool in the research process.

For me, I wanted to embrace the 21st Century in a big way. I figured lots of aspiring writers might also be great readers and if they are visiting my website to find out about me and what I’m looking for, they might just get interested in one of my clients’ books and buy it. (Anything that sells books let me tell you!)

Besides, I figure it’s just easier to keep a website up-to-date about what I do than any paper publication that pretty much goes out of date the minute it’s published. So for me personally, my website is a pretty important tool—my calling card so to speak.

For other agents that’s not always the case.

So remember a few things about agent/agency websites.

1. Some scammers and ineffective agents have very pretty websites.

2. Some excellent and very effective agents have websites that make me cringe
(Somebody get them a copy of Dreamweaver or a web designer pronto!)

3. Some agents/agencies literally refuse to have one. I have an agent friend at a very established and well-known agency who is always bemoaning the fact that her agency doesn’t have one and it hinders her ability to build her list. Perhaps their client list is full. Maybe they want to fly under the radar. Maybe they just don’t think it’s worth the bother. Maybe they have a policy about it. Who knows.

Doesn’t matter. Only the track record of sales matters.

16 Responses

  1. Elektra said:

    I know this is exceptionally stupid, but I won’t query an agent who has an annoying website (like the ones that make you go through Flash driven hoops just to get to their submissions policy.)

  2. Anonymous said:

    There’s an agent at a big agency who is interested in my writing and they do not have a website. As far as I know, they don’t have one in the works or anything. I found them on PM and through word of mouth. I personally would feel better knowing more about them from a website, but they have a fabulous reputation so I just have to go on that, I guess.

  3. ian said:

    I have to agree that a website is an invaluable tool for an agent, just as it is for a writer. I’ve found nearly all the agents I’ve ever queried through websites, and I really appreciate when they take the time to outline their submissions policies, or post useful links, or have great blogs (nudge nudge). I’m surprised that there are agencies that still don’t embrace this technology, given the large number of tech-savvy people writing today.

    On the other hand, making yourself that much easier to find means you get deluged by that many more queries, but it also means it is more likely you’ll find someone you want to represent, right? Because in the end, it’s all about the money, and she who represents the mostest bestest writers makes the mostest bestest money. 🙂


  4. r louis scott said:

    I think that many writers would benefit from reading tonight’s entry. I belong to “an organization” that has a great website. On it, they provide links to member’s websites.

    Some of these sites are just awful. Some of them belong to authors whose books I have read and enjoyed. If I had come across their website before discovering their books, however, I would never have even considered borrowing their titles from the library.

    In this day and age, an agent or reader’s first contact with an author might be via their website or blog. A great deal hinges on how that site is perceived.

    Richard, (who, once he has published something, anything at all really, shall launch a website. A quiet, tasteful website. With a distinct lack of yellow backgrounds and floral borders)

  5. Maureen McGowan said:

    Isn’t THE STATION AGENT marvelous? I saw it at the Toronto film festival a few years ago and loved it. Went to see it again in the theatres when it came out after that. So I guess I paid at least $20. LOL.

  6. ryan field said:

    I don’t think that’s stupid at all, Elektra…and I agree. But more than that it’s also a good way to decided whether or not the agent is right for you. If you don’t like their web site, which is a reflection of their tastes, than how will you like what they represent? I wouldn’t want a decorater who drives a beat up old car and carries a cheap vinyl pocket book because I’d probably wind up with vinyl wall covering and deparment store furniture in matching sets. First impressions are important.

  7. Patrick McNamara said:

    Agents who don’t have a website don’t provide writers any way to tell what material they handle and are thus likely to get innodated with unwanted submissions for material they don’t handle. So if they want to cut the number of unsuitable submissions, it helps to have a website. And while not having one might make it more difficult for unsuitable writers to submit, it also makes it more difficult for suitable writers to submit.

    It’s also an aid to publishers who need to get the agent’s info, though I don’t know how often that actually comes into play.

  8. Anonymous said:

    Hi, Kristen. Not sure if you’ll see this or not, but I don’t want to bug you with an email. How long should we wait to hear from you after a partial has been submitted? Your website says 2 months, but it’s referring to snail mail partials still… Is that still about right? Thanks.

  9. joelle said:

    In regards to Richard’s comment.
    I just got the best tip from Miss Snark a few months ago. She said to put your website up NOW. Not only does it give you a web presence as you’re searching for an agent, but it makes you look like a pro and gives you practice updating regularly. Also, Dia Cornier pointed out that it’s an opportunity to gather readers ahead of your book being published because they love your website. I took those two things to heart, hired a great designer, picked a focus, and have a wonderful website up and running now, even though I haven’t signed on the dotted line with an agent yet.


  10. Travis Erwin said:

    Jsut so you now I have read two books by your authors, Jennifer O’ Connell and Allie Carter, and I just recently bought my wife Enchanted Inc but she hasn’t started it yet.

    As a hopeful writer I appreciate the tons of info you pass along and I’m more than willing to pay back your generosity any way I can. Not that reading a good book is in ever a sacrifice.

  11. Matt Deibert said:

    I have my first book coming out this summer entitled $inful Greed. This story impacts everyones life at one point or another since we’ve all been tempted before by this. I have been getting only positive feedback from those who know about the story. This will make a ground breaking hollywood block buster. How do I go by getting this done?

  12. Linda said:


    I won’t query an agent who has a Web site on a free host (there is one out there), even if he is paying for the upgraded service. Free hosts for businesses can make one wonder if the business is actually making any money …

  13. JulieLeto said:

    My agent doesn’t have a website, though she’s working on one. A lot of the “old guard” agents don’t have them yet and may never. They don’t need them. They find new clients through referrals.

    However, her sales are listed at Publisher’s Marketplace.

  14. Yasmine Galenorn said:

    My agent doesn’t have a website and I don’t know if she ever will. However, from what I’ve read of her current sub guidelines, she’s not open to authors who aren’t already established in one way or another. I know I had a referral to her when I first queried her some years back.

    I think it depends on how active the agents are in looking for new submissions.

    And like Julie Leto, my agent lists her sales at Publishers Marketplace.