Pub Rants

Agent Matchmaker

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STATUS: I’ve been working on queries tonight. Honestly, that’s what I’ve been reading for the past hour. I’m going to need another 2 hours at least to complete what’s in my inbox but haven’t you ever notice that sometimes it’s the thought of starting the task that keeps you from diving in? Once started, it never seems as bad…

What’s playing on the iPod right now? IT HAD TO BE YOU by Harry Connick, Jr.

Writers often want to know if agents ever recommend other agents for a project they might be passing on.

The answer is an unequivocal yes. Just this week I played matchmaker for a well-established author who had amicably parted with her agent of many years (like 18—it was a long time). She was going in a new direction and hadn’t felt supported so it was time to move on.

One of my authors actually sent her my way so of course I read her sample pages with alacrity.

And it was obvious by page four that she was a fabulous author but I was so not the right agent for her. The genre she was working in was a bit of a stretch for me but sometimes that can be invigorating. I like to take on projects that stretch the boundaries but this was just a mis-fit.

So, I asked her permission to share her query with several agent friends who I thought would be a good fit. Of those agents who responded with a “yes, would love for her to contact me,” I compiled a list and sent to her.

And today I found out she signed with a very dear friend of mine. So fun! I’m thrilled that she kept me in the loop and as she was so lovely to work with, I had begun to wonder if I was a bit daft to not be snatching up this talent. Still, I find that it rarely works out when agents take on projects that aren’t a good fit but they try anyway.

So yes, agents do recommend other agents. I must admit that this doesn’t happen as often for projects I pass on from unpublished authors but it does occasionally happen there as well.

13 Responses

  1. Reid said:

    Very good to know, I’m actually hoping for something like that with my last submission, actually.

    Yeah, I know that doesn’t make too much sense, but that’s how I roll.

  2. Kristin Laughtin said:

    haven’t you ever notice that sometimes it’s the thought of starting the task that keeps you from diving in?

    Oh yes, usually this is my biggest obstacle. Even if I can envision a scene perfectly in my head, I’ll get intimidated thinking it will disappear before I have time to type it out/write it down, and spend a few minutes (at least) staring at the blank page before getting the nerve to dive in.

    Glad to hear about recommending agents, especially for unpublished authors. Even if you do it rarely, it’s comforting to know that it still happens on occasion.

  3. kazdreamer said:

    I can vouch for this happening for THIS unpublished writer. 🙂

    I sent a query and first chapter (as per guidelines) to an agent, who praised the writing but said it wasn’t for her. However, she suggested I try another agent and said I could use her name as a referral. I’d already queried that agent but heard nothing, so it gave me the opportunity to give a polite ‘nudge’… And after immediately requesting the full, 3 months later I have signed with her!

    I was very happy to be able to write back to the referring agent, so she knew how things turned out. 🙂

  4. Julie Weathers said:

    I have to admit I was surprised to get an e-mail recently from an agent I very much respect. He had done something I was really impressed by and I thought, “I would love to have an agent like this.” I commented on his blog about the need to start hanging out at blogs for agents who rep epic fantasy. He sent me an e-mail with recommendations for two agents. One I already had on my list, but the other was new and, indeed, a very good match.

    Of course, it’s entirely possible he was just trying to get me to leave his blog alone, but I prefer to think he was being a sweetheart.

  5. Anonymous said:

    “…It rarely works out when agents take on projects that aren’t a good fit but they try anyway…”

    If only other agents felt this way the industry would be a lot less chaotic. Because, sadly, other agents would absolutely take on this previously publised author to make a quick buck, only to have it fall apart somewhere down the road.

    When an agent says, “Yes, I absolutely want you/this, lets work together” the writer thinks they actually mean it. Cruel world, this.

  6. JES said:

    Kristin, apologies for an off-topic question, but: I always notice the “What’s playing…?” bit you always include, just after the status report, at the top of each post. What happens to be playing seems to be random to me (I’d be astonished to see a song/artist appear above more than one entry). Just out of curiosity, is there a particular sort of music you listen to when you’re working on queries, vs. working on partials or fulls or…?

    (When writing, I know I cannot listen to anything at all vocal, unless it’s something like Enya.)

  7. RK said:

    Hi Kristin,

    I love reading your blog and the comments for encouragement. I am glad you went the extra mile for an author who you knew wouldn’t be a client. If everyone showed more consideration, this world would a nicer place.
    Sometimes I get bummed out by how tough the publishing business can be and then I read through your blog. Thanks for cheering me up!

  8. Beosig said:

    I’m glad to hear agents will help one another out like this, which does nothing but benefit those of us who are trying to get something published for the masses to consume.

    I do have some questions regarding your post. Between this blog post and many others, it seems as if naming names (e.g.: author X is a client of agent Y) is almost taboo until the author’s book hits the stands. At that time, the agent does a little marketing on the blog by announcing the book.

    I have a question related to this. I am nearing the end of piece of work that I feel is similar in style and voice to a particular author. Something in my tiny little brain tells me if I can find that author’s agent, then I may have a better shot at missing the rejection train. Is this even a viable, intelligent, and reasonable thought? If it is, then how do I go about finding out who represents certain authors? If my thought is totally off-base, then could you please explain why?


  9. Anonymous said:


    This is a good idea, if your book really matches the tone, style, etc. of an agent’s client. You could add something to your query like, “Readers of Author X would like My Latest Novel, and I know you represent Author X.” Not only will you personalize your query letter, you’ll also be targeting appropriate agents for your work.

    I wasn’t clear if you’re saying the work you think is in a similar style is not yet published, so you don’t know who the agent is. If the soon-to-be published author has a website, you can use Google (“Author X” + agent), and may find it. Or you could spend a worthwhile $20 and go to Publisher’s Marketplace where you may find info. But if the work is published, you could find that info by reading acknowledgments pages of published books, or you could go

    Good luck.

    – not Agent Kristin (who has mentioned that she usually doesn’t field questions in the comments section)

  10. Anonymous said:

    It was certainly nice of you to help this published, much-talented author. However, since she is obviously made of awesome, it is quite likely that she would have found representation all on her own, just by querying widely.

  11. Anonymous said:

    You might try for some listings of agents and the books they represent, as well as an opportunity to find the agent of a particular author…and if you look up query letters on this site, author Jamie Ford caught Kristin’s eye by using a similar comparison of his work to Amy Tan. She featured his as an example on this blog a while back. It worked for him–and you will be amazed at how well!

  12. -Kelly M. said:

    It happened for this unpublished writers, too. 🙂 One wonderful agent requested my full manuscript, and when she emailed to say it wasn’t quite right for her, she also asked if she could pass it along to someone she thought might be interested.

    Of course, I said yes (having heard great things about the agent she was passing it to). He read it over Memorial weekend and made an offer on Tuesday. So yes, referrals happen, even for the unpubbed. 🙂