1. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Agents Acquiring an agent?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Thomas Kitchen, Feb 6, 2013.

    Hi guys and gals,

    I am editing my second draft of my manuscript, and soon to be writing the third. Seeing as I want to get it published (amongst the thousands of others out there) and publishers that allow unsolicited manuscripts are few in number, I was wondering about agents.

    Firstly, how good is it just to get 'any agent'? I understand that there has to be a certain amount of quality to look out for, but in general, if you are a new writer that needs an agent, what does one need to look out for? Experience? Contacts? Or is it just fine if you find an agent who looks reasonable and is willing to take your work on?

    Secondly, as I live in the UK, would it be acceptable to get an agent from America? Perhaps the agent has to specify whether they want writers from another country, I don't know. I simply wanted to check.

    Thirdly and finally, how likely is it to get an agent, really? I know this is almost impossible to work out, but with all the agents out there who are new, experienced, or virtually anything in-between, is it quite likely you'll find an agent? And more importantly, how likely is it you'll find a good one?

    Many thanks. :)
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...wondering is fine, but you're far from being ready to seek one yet, so concentrate on getting that ms edited fully and then polished to a faretheewell, before struggling to write a good query, or checking the agent listings for a good fit... agents do tend to move from agency to agency, sometimes branching out on their one and so on, which means whoever is here today, may be gone tomorrow... so wait till you have a perfected ms ready to submit before choosing which ones to query...

    ...not good at all... just as it's not good to get 'any' doctor or attorney...

    ...both... plus current clients... first, check to see if they're listed here:
    http://www.invirtuo.cc/prededitors/pubagent.htm

    ...see above... in addition to checking them out on p&e, take a good look at their website and all the info there... google for feedback from unhappy clients... there are lots of scam artists out there posing as agents, so be careful about who you query...

    ...agents don't care where their clients live... all they care about is if they have a ms that is marketable in the agent's country... if your book is suitable for the american market, there's no reason why you shouldn't query american agencies...
    ...sad fact of life is it's not easy... and as to be expected, the best agents are the hardest to get... if you write a killer query and have a well-written book with bestseller potential, and luck is on your side, you'll get one eventually... but it may take a while, even with all that on your side... many agents take months to get back to you even on a query and some don't respond at all, if they're not interested in repping your book...

    ...no, if by 'find' you really mean 'get'... and not very, with same 'if'...

    here's where you'll find all you need to know about agents:

    http://www.invirtuo.cc/prededitors/pubagent.htm

    http://www.agentquery.com/writer_la.aspx

    good luck!

    love and hugs, maia
     
  3. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you are in the UK, your BIBLE is The Writers' and Artists' Yearbook. It is published yearly (you need the most up-to-date version, for reasons maia says above), and also available online. It is best to have a home address in the UK for a UK agent (I have found). I can't imagine why you would consider an agent in the US--why make life difficult for yourself competing against people who actually have first hand experience of that culture? Stick with your own (apologies if you have spent half your life in the USA or something).
     
  4. swhibs123
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    swhibs123 Active Member

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    First, congratulations on completing your novel! That's no small feat and you should be congratulated.

    Next, yes - if your goal is to get an publishing contract with a major publisher (or any publisher for that matter) you should get an agent.

    No, not "any" agent will do. As you pointed out not all agents are equal. But more than that, you want an agent who knows what they're doing and who is passionate about your book. They have to write emails, and make calls and have lunch with editors and pitch your book. You want them to be excited so the the person they're talking to wants to see it.

    How likely is it that you'll get an agent? Well, that is directly dependent on how well you write. If you write well, and you have a good story, it is extremely likely that you'll get an agent.

    Yes, you should feel free to query agents in the UK and abroad. There is no reason not to.

    Biggest thing you can do is research the heck out of the agents you query. Not just looking for their likes and dislikes, but also who they're selling to, what kinds of deals they're getting for their clients, how happy are their clients? Read interviews, blogs, tweets, etc etc.

    Good luck!
     
  5. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Everyone has given you good advice. If your goal is to be traditionally published, you do need an agent. And you are correct in your perception that it is not all that easy to get one, especially a good one -- it's almost as hard, if not harder, than getting a publisher. What you have to keep in mind is that you are establishing a relationship with this person. They are going to be working very hard for you, trying to sell your novel. So they have to feel that when they make suggestions, you will be open to them. They need to get the feeling that hopefully, they will enjoy working with you, or at the very least, you won't be a nightmare to work with. And they also need to believe in your m/s. They have to love it, because they are trying to get a publisher to buy it. Think about all of the books in the bookstore. You don't love every one of them, right? Most of them are probably just not to your personal taste. That's kind of how it is with an agent -- your book may be very good, and they might recognize that your book is good, but if it's just not their cup of tea, they aren't going to want to put in the time to sell it, and they won't be able to muster the enthusiasm required to sell the book. So, much of the work of finding an agent really involves finding someone who is the right fit with you and your novel.

    You should absolutely research agents, and you should find agents who represent books similar to the one you have written. If you can go to a writer's conference, that will be a big help in getting familiar with agents -- not that you'll necessarily get an agent from going to the conference, but you'll gain great insight from hearing what they have to say. Also, if they're attending conferences, that's a good sign that they're not only serious about their work, but they are respected enough to be invited to a conference. If you can't actually attend the conference, see if you can find information about conferences, especially well-known ones, and look up which agents are going to be there. I have found twitter to be a great resource into seeing how agents think and work. I suggest following as many agents as you can -- you don't even have to tweet yourself.
     
  6. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with what the others have already said.

    Re. The Writers' and Artists' Yearbook - local libraries here in the UK usually keep an up-to-date copy in their reference section.
     
  7. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Thank you all for the advice; I do in fact have my own copy of the Writers' and Artists' 2013. I shall take all the information on board. :)
     

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