MB Artists has released our newest catalog, themed "Adventure". Check out all of fun new artwork!
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MB Artists has released our newest catalog, themed "Adventure". Check out all of fun new artwork!
What is appropriate to do when you've waited and waited and haven't heard back from an editor or agent?
What does it mean when an agent asks for an exclusive and how does it work.
Find out what specific types of manuscripts individual editors and agents are looking for.
Here are some ways to figure out if your agent is doing his or her job.
Obviously an agent wants to see good writing, but what else is important?
The other day I read a submission that I thought was really strong and had great potential. However, given my already busy client list I didn't think I was going to be the best agent for the project. This book needed someone who could be truly passionate about it, who had a love for the genre and who had the time and desire to really work with the author on the project. Instead of just passing however, I passed it on to another agent at BookEnds. Someone who fit every one of the criteria I thought the book needed.
When I do something like this I often wonder what the author will think. Does the author later think less of the offer she receives because it isn't the agent she submitted to, although it is the agency? or Does the author think this is a great opportunity because her project definitely landed in the right hands?
As we see when we receive responses to rejections, every author is different. Some will be offended that the agent they first submitted to didn't want it in the first place and others will be elated that the agency as a whole felt so strongly about the book.
Like everyone else, an agent only has a finite number of hours in the day and can only represent so many clients and give them the attention she feels they deserve. When reviewing submissions, we at BookEnds are reviewing for ourselves first and the agency second. We all work very closely together and that doesn't just mean bouncing ideas off each other, it means working hard to get as many great books published as we can, and helping each other build a strong career as an agent.
When we pass a project on to another agent within BookEnds it doesn't mean we didn't think it was great and are tossing our trash onto someone else's pile. In fact, it's the complete opposite, we think the book has some real potential and were excited about its possibilities, but feel it needs to be with the right agent, not any agent.
I'm going to pre-empt some questions here and say that we don't always pass everything on so if you feel there are two agents at BookEnds who might be right for your book feel free to query them both. Never at the same time, but if the first passes there's no reason you can't try the second. Just don't tell anyone else I said that. ;)
“It only takes one yes.”
Chances are if you’re an author (or even know an author) in search of an agent, you’ve heard those words. And I’ll be honest, after 87 agent rejections, I’ve heard that phrase more times than I ever want to again – heck, I’ve even SAID those words to other writer friends as they’ve walked their own agent-search journeys.
Except now a few years beyond those 87 rejections, with two books pubbed and a publisher I love (Harper), and having had three agenty relationships, I’ve come to the conclusion the “it only takes one yes” stance isn’t exactly true.
I mean, technically it DOES take only one yes. But the agent from whom that yes appears is infinitely more important than the yes itself. Because it comes from a person – someone with personality, feelings, opinions, and skills – and it’s an agreement to enter a partnership with you, a person who also has feelings, personality, opinions, and skills.
You’ve probably heard it said an author/agent relationship is rather like a marriage. You hope it’s long-term, compatible, and that you’ll have each other’s backs through both the hard and awesome. And in some ways, yes, it is like that. It’s also a business and a valuable career-growing game-changer, and if I’ve learned anything at all it’s that it matters more who you walk the pub adventure with than the adventure itself.
Which is where it comes down to trusting one’s gut.
Because the conclusion I’ve come to is this: There are amazing agents out there just like there are amazing authors and business partners and friends. There are agents who rep loads of New York Times bestsellers, and agents who prefer to simply keep a list of personal clients. There are agents who let you call them in the middle of the night and there are those who keep very tight office hours. There are those building their own new careers and there are agents who’ve walked the trenches for twenty years.
And THEY’RE ALL INCREDIBLE (okay, for the most part. Just like authors and random nice people are also truly wonderful for the most part). They’re passionate and focused and they know more about the pub world than half of us could ever hope to.
But that doesn’t mean they’re the right fit for you. Or for me.
When I needed to find a new agent for the third time (my first was AMAZING but sadly passed away, the second didn’t rep YA), I’ll be honest with you – I was a bit overwhelmed. Until I sat down and made a list. Not a “what an agent needs to offer me” type list, but a list about me. My quirks, my preferences, and particularly my weaknesses. It quickly became clear the type of agent I needed (and the types of agents I’d probably drive batty because I am like the chatty BFF of the pub world who’d adore nothing more than to host publisher sleepovers and pedicure parties if I could).
It also became obvious what strengths I bring to the table (hey, free pedicures, people).
With those notes in mind, and my published debut in hand, I began asking about other author’s agents (and yes I was terrified – what if I got the wrong fit?!). Just like my first go-around, it wasn’t a fast process. It took months until the conversations naturally led where I needed them to go and for my gut to be the one saying yes rather than just my flattered heart.
At that point, I chose to go with a darling, deal-maker of a lady – someone who was just as interested in building a relationship of trust and business and friendship together over the long haul as I was. Someone who saw writing as bigger than just a business on both our parts. And someone whose strengths seriously covered my weaknesses. (Also, it doesn’t hurt that she’s all about the pedicure idea too, ahem.)
And now, sitting here typing this and reflecting back over that season?
I can truly say I could not be happier with my gut decision. Or with her “yes.”
Mary Weber is a ridiculously uncoordinated girl plotting to take over make-believe worlds through books, handstands, and imaginary throwing knives. In her space time, she feeds unicorns, sings ‘80s songs to her three muggle children, and ogles her husband who looks strikingly like Wolverine., They live in California, which is perfect for stalking LA bands, Joss Whedon, and the ocean.
Visit her website at: MaryWeber.com
Instagram: MaryWeberAuthorAdd a Comment
Barry Goldblatt has been an agent since 2000. His agency focuses mostly on children's literature, but has expanded to include some adult fiction as well.
Jenny Bent founded The Bent Agency in 2009; the agency now has nine agents. Her authors include SE Green, Tera Lynn Childs, AG Howard, and Lynn Weingarten.
Jenny advices networking while writing your novel, otherwise known as, making new friends. It's more organic to create an online presence before your book is published rather than when your book is coming out in order to promote it.
Be helpful. The more you give back to this community, the more you have to gain.
Make use of every opportunity to learn more about your craft. Be at this conference is where we all need to be. Go to every workshop on craft you can find.
You shouldn't write to trend, but you should be aware of what's happening in the industry with trends. Don't chase them, but know what they are. Read the New York Times bestseller list every week. Know what's selling in your genre.
Jenny suggest one simple way to find an agent. Read the deals. See who is selling what. When you find people who are selling what you write, cross reference what you learn to be sure it's a good fit. It's a great way to find a great match for your work.
The Bent Agency has a great blog: Bent On Books. Once a month, each of the agents shares what they are looking for right now.
My agent just released our new promotional catalog, themed "Ethnicity". I love seeing all of the artists' interpretations! Check it out!
I've been getting more people asking me for advice about how to get an agent, so in addition to updating my FAQ post about "Any advice on how to get an agent? How did YOU get your agent?", I've also posted a new survey.
If you're a children's/YA author or illustrator currently working with an agent, I'd very much appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to answer this quickie (multiple choice) anonymous poll about how you got your agent.
Results will be included in a future Inkygirl post.Add a Comment
In my recent survey, I asked those of you working with agents to answer a few questions about how you got your agent. First off, thank you SO MUCH to those who took the time to respond in order to help others in the community. These include: Hayley Chewins, Julie Glover, Kellie DuBay Gillis, Michael Wayne, Anne Marie Pace, Kristin Gray, Denise Gallagher, Corey Schwartz, Beth Ferry, Julie Dao, Stephanie Diaz, Russ Cox, Sarah Albee, Stephanie Fletcher-Stephens, Ashlyn Anstee, Melissa Caruso, Julie Falatko, Bruce Hale, Mike Jung, Heidi Schulz, Amy Lozier, Josh Funk, Jim Averbeck, Edward Willett, Kelley McMorris, Annie Cardi, Carter Higgins, Susan VanHecke, Jennifer Gray Olson, Andria W. Rosenbaum and Juana Martinez-Neal. Others responded anonymously.
74 people responded and almost all were children's/YA book writers or illustrators. Most got their agent through an email query.
While researching agents and given the choices in my survey, respondents said the most useful resources of the ones I listed were Twitter, Publisher's Marketplace, AgentQuery.com, SCBWI conferences and Literary Rambles, followed by Writer's Digest resources like the annual Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Guide and Chuck Sambuchino's Guide To Literary Agents. This survey was mainly conducted through Twitter, so it's not surprising that Twitter came out on top.
Do scroll down to read some of the info-packed comments about other useful resources like QueryTracker, agency blogs and websites, AbsoluteWrite forums, SCBWI BlueBoard forums. Comments also include info about people got their agents, such as getting noticed during the 12x12 Picture Book Challenge, Preditors & Editors, #PitMad on Twitter (Pitch Madness - learn the rules before participating!) and #MSWL on Twitter (Manuscript Wish List - learn the rules before participating!).
Here's a further summary and breakdown of the results as of today (August 14, 2015).
As you can tell from the above, most of the respondents' represented work focuses on children's/YA writing. About 25% had agents representing their children's book illustration work.
Approx. 70% of respondents said they were working with their first agent. The others had worked with other agents before.
Here are some of additional comments about useful resources while researching agents:
"Online searches about what agents said and represented, conversations with authors already in the publishing business." - Julie Glover
"The SCBWI blueboard! Also, agent's blogs and agency websites." - Kellie DuBay Gillis
"Author friends - individual agent google searches which often bring up a variety of insightful blog interviews - agency websites." - Michael Wayne
"Probably most helpful was just googling agents to find interviews and other information, especially agency websites. Facebook was helpful mostly because of a private Facebook group of PitchWars '14 mentees that I belong to--networking with other writers is a big help. I also used QueryTracker. The AbsoluteWrite forums are usesful too."
"When I signed with my agent in early 2007, Facebook was just catching on and I don't think anyone had Twitter yet--okay, I checked Wikipedia--it was very small at that time! The Children's Writers and Illustrators Market was only in hardcover, not online! Much has changed, very quickly!" - Anne Marie Pace
"Recommendations from other agented writers, and recommendations from my former agent."
"12 x 12 picture book challenge submission."
"Also Querytracker." - Kristin Gray
"Pitch Madness on Twitter!" - Denise Gallagher
"I also learned about a lot of agents and agencies through other writers and through contests. (This is mostly where Twitter comes in... as a vehicle for word of mouth.) I used Publisher's Marketplace and AgentQuery more as a secondary reference to look up more info on agents, rather than a place to find them in the first place." - Melissa Caruso
"Querytracker.com, pred-ed.com." - Russ Cox
"General online research, agent interviews, etc."
"One of her clients gave me a referral." - Corey Schwartz
"Google. And, of course, the official agency websites are huge sources of information."
"Blog post loutreleaven showing a list of literary agents."
Additional comments about how they met their agent:
"We had never met face to face, but she contracted me after seeing my work in the Portfolio Showcase. Then we met (face to face) a few weeks later. A month or so after that, I signed with her agency. We have seen each other a few times since I signed, but mainly we communicate via email (and occasionally phone)."
"We met through the #PitMad Twitter pitch contest where she requested my work!" - Julie Dao
"I heard her speak at an SCBWI Editor's Day. The following year, I had her critique one of my manuscripts for SCBWI Agent's Day, and was signed soon after." - Stephanie Fletcher-Stephens
"Online via Verla Kay's Blueboards and my blog. Joan contacted me to request pages." - Mike Jung
"It was a case of right match, right time. I liked what he said in his talk, took advantage of his offer to submit stories, and found that he really liked one of my pieces -- enough to represent me." - @storyguy1
"I was referred by another agent."
"I queried her by email before an SCBWI event that I was volunteering at and she was speaking at." - Jennifer Gray Olson
"Personal reference from one of her existing clients." - Josh Funk
"Answered request from Manuscript Wish List (#MSWL)."
"They noticed me because I won the SCBWI Student Illustrator Scholarship." - Kelley McMorris
"Through my MFA program (VCFA)- she was a fellow student at the time." - Amy
"I met my agent through a #PitMad twitter pitch event."
"I had planned to query her based on research I'd done, but she invited me to submit my query letter, synopsis, and first 3 chapters from a Twitter pitch."
Again, THANK YOU SO MUCH for those who took the time to respond!
If you have comments or suggestions, including your own experience with researching and finding an agent, I encourage you to post below.
If you haven't already, feel free to also check out my list of agents on Twitter who represent kidlit/YA as well as my FAQ post about finding an agent (and how I found mine).
Curious about my other publishing industry surveys? Feel free to browse current and past Inkygirl Surveys online.Add a Comment
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