Pub Rants

Agent Shopping

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STATUS: So crazy today and it’s so late at night for blogging…

What’s playing on the iPod right now? BIG LOG by Robert Plant

When you have a deal on the table, don’t get in the mindset of “one stop shopping.”

I think it’s terrific to have your dream agent on the top of your list and by all means, be sure to contact him or her. But don’t stop there. A deal on the table is no guarantee that an agent will sign a writer.

Now it certainly helps the process along but an agent might still pass and as a writer, you don’t want to get caught without a back-up plan.

Now why in the world would an agent pass up easy money with a deal already on the table? Simple. Client lists are either full or the agent is really particular about what he or she takes on.

For me, I can like a project and see the merit but still not offer representation. I have to LOVE a project to take on a new client—especially if the project being offered on is a debut.

I often pass on projects with an editor offer already on the table if the project simply isn’t right for me.

But that doesn’t mean it won’t be right for other agents. So contact the dreams first but then have your secondary list fired up and ready to go.

It’s like applying for college. You pinpoint the dream schools but always have the “fail-safe entry” school as a fall back.

13 Responses

  1. Babe King said:

    Hmm, okay. Getting butt back in gear. I presume stomping, pouting and rude words released to the ether are okay while going for said B list. 🙂

  2. Anonymous said:

    Have you ever forwarded a query or recommended an author check another agent (by name?)

    Perhaps the book was good but have too much on your plate.

  3. Anonymous said:

    Deal on, under, or over the table, I’d love to get one. As long as it’s legit, of course. Finding an agent then would be more like desert than the trip to the dentist it is at the present moment.

    – Detective Roger Stark

  4. Kimber An said:

    I don’t have any dream agents. I’ve done my research and made my list of most compatible agents. I haven’t decided whether to include editors on that list. On September 1st they will each get a query letter (and whatever else they ask for) individualized to their preferences as best I can determine from the information they provide. I don’t have a B List. On September 2nd I begin polishing the next novel.

  5. 2readornot said:

    It’s always good to have the reminder! It’s hard to accept tha an agent who seems like a perfect fit just doesn’t like your writing…but I’ve had to do just that!

  6. Reid said:

    “It’s like applying for college. You pinpoint the dream schools but always have the “fail-safe entry” school as a fall back.”

    In that case, at what point should I start looking for community and junior college agents?

    I guess after that, I’ll submit to the clown and barber college agents.

  7. Angie said:

    Should this be a serial process or can you have several agent queries in parallel? Maybe I’m too used to sending manuscripts out to only one editor at a time, but it seems iffy to contact more than one agent about representing a particular manuscript. But if you have an editor who wants to send you a contract, I don’t imagine you should keep them waiting long either, right?


  8. marieconley3 said:

    Usually you can query many agents at once. If you read their website then it will say something like “We prefer exclusive queries.” Above all remember this a business. If you would interview many different people for a job, then why shouldn’t we be able to apply to many at the same time. This a dog eat dog business and you have to whatever it takes to get a leg up. Remember the more research you do the better.

  9. Berni said:

    I agree that it shows great integrity to pass something up if it doesn’t feel right, even if it’s on the table. I wouldn’t want someone who, whether consciously or subconsciously couldn’t give me 100%. If you’re like me your writing is your soul, you want it handled with kid gloves and cherished like you cherish it! Stand up attitude!
    Back to writing! 

  10. OpenChannel said:

    Anonymous At 5:01 AM – While doing my agent search, I had two agents recommend I contact another agent (one at their own agency and one at another), so it does happen.

    2readornot – Very good point. Just because we might think an agent is perfect for us, doesn’t mean they will! And truly, we don’t know what will float their boat at any given time (although we do our best research to be in the right genre at least).

    Angie – in my search I only came across one agency that specified they wanted exclusivity. I didn’t send a manuscript to them. Two other asked if it was a multiple submission and I told them it was and that was fine.

    At one point, when I was completely ready, I decided to send out one query per day until I found my agent.

    And in the end, what you really want, is someone who is as excited about the work as you are. It’s all about finding the perfect match.
    (I’d say more like blind dating than college, haha)