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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Literary agents/agencies--Fresh out the oven or experienced?

   
Author Topic: Literary agents/agencies--Fresh out the oven or experienced?
Brooke18
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I think I've fully decided to go the traditional publishing route with my first book. The next question I need to ask: what kind of literary agent do I need? Obviously, it would be better to query an agent in my genre. However, should I go with an agent/agency that is new or one that has experience?

I understand that new literary agents/agencies are eager to get clients and build up their client list. Because they are new, they may not have much experience.

On the other hand, longer-running agents/agencies will no doubt have multitudes of queries and manuscripts to sift through.

I could very easily Google 'well-known literary agents/agencies', 'top 10 best literary agents', and so on. I trust the opinions and writers here at Hatrack. I know that many of you have published books or are in the middle of publishing now. I would appreciate any good agent/agency recommendations or tips.

I must apologize. I always come on here asking for advice and most likely posting the same questions that thousands of writers here have asked before. Thank you for bearing with me.

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Meredith
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All right. I've addressed this on another post recently so I'll say a little more here.

  • Due diligence. Make sure you check out any agent before you query. Agent Query, Preditors and Editors, Absolute Write Water Cooler are all places to go look for info. There are good agents, great agents, okay agents, people who mean well and have no idea what they're doing, and outright scam artists.
  • New agents can indeed be hungrier and sometimes a better bet. They're also unknown quantities without a track record. So, it's helpful if they work for a reputable agency with more experienced agents to help out.
  • The most important factor is to find an agent that's actively looking for the kind of story you've written--and the ones you want to write--whether that's a new agent or not.
  • Not to be a downer, but your list is most likely going to have to be a lot longer than the top ten agents.
  • Personally, I'd sprinkle those dream agents throughout your list, rather than starting out with them. Put out a dozen or so queries, see what the response is, revise query if needed. When you start getting some positive response (requests) then query your dream agents. Give yourself the best chance possible.
  • If you haven't written and had the query extensively critiqued yet, you're nowhere near ready to start worrying about agents.

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extrinsic
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Prior to submission agent vetting activities I also recommend: Correspond with an agent and evaluate how responsive he or she is, how professionally respectful and courteous, how helpful. Ask pointed questions not answered elsewhere. One of my questions is, for example, how do you feel about writer So-and-so's litigation controversies with publishers, maybe consumers' controversies. Maybe questions about a critic other research has suggested the agent dislikes or likes professionally. Maybe ask a question about advance policies the agent responsibly arranges. A high advance is ideal. Too high, higher than product revenue can ever recoup, is fatal to a writer's career. Maybe ask questions about book auctions. A few pointed questions, not a question avalanche.

Open the inquiry with sincere praise, an economium, or salutation courtesy: Hope you and yours are prospering and healthy this seasonably pleasant spring, or plesantly weathered this past winter's harsh icy cold, or similar salutation-economium.

Cyber audition the agent. Search social media for the agent's views on subjects related to and unrelated to publishing culture. This is the same as researching a love interest prospect. Though no blood test results for communicable social diseases, or genetic compatability testing, criminal background check, credit report, or the like, similar in that strong, meaningful relationships are based upon compatability. An agent who expresses a strong negative attitude toward a subject matter, a writing method, a grammar fault, whatever, might or might not care for your writing. Knowing in advance saves misdirected submissions for agents who are more open to such writing idiosyncracies. Agent websites generally give a few clues, though are more or less standard formatted summaries and putting a best foot forward. Elsewhere in public culture, the agent's true nature may be more on parade.

I've learned more than I bargained for when cyber auditioning agents and such. Home address, birth date, birth place, mother's maiden name, religion, driving record, political affiliation, health and financial status, home phone number, personal e-mail contact, spouse and offspring, privacy information that has no business being online publicly and is of no interest to me, only that the process uncovered those details.

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