1. Johnny_Westerner
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    Johnny_Westerner New Member

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    Agents How Many Agents Can I Have?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Johnny_Westerner, Jan 4, 2015.

    Hi, I've got a quick question about agents - simply, is it okay to have more than one or is this a no-no? I'll soon be looking, and I don't want to screw up. There's always the possibility that two or more will respond positively and I'd rather avoid any potential collisions.

    Any help greatly appreciated.
     
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    For the same book? One. I've never heard of more than one agent repping a single book and I can't see how it would work. They'd either be pissing off editors by subbing to the same ones or they'd be wasting their time collaborating with another agent for no good reason. I can't imagine any self-respecting agent agreeing to that.

    But if you have more than one book, and if there's a REASON to have more than one, go for it.

    In terms of a reason - maybe you write fiction, but also non-fiction, and your fiction agent doesn't rep non-fiction. Or all your books are fiction, but in different genres, and again, you find two agents who each represent one genre but not the other.

    In general, though? You have one agent. If two or more respond positively, you talk to each of them, you check their references (current clients, etc.) and you pick one.

    Why would you want more than one?

    ETA: One possible exception (I have no idea if this happens, but it's at least something I can imagine happening) is that a really big author might be represented by a team of agents? I'm not sure about that.

    And there are definitely sub-agents for some things - like movie deals or foreign rights, your agent might work with someone else to handle the details. But you'd still be working with just your one agent.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2015
  3. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Totally agree. More than one book, more than one genre, fiction versus nonfiction - then you might look for a second agent. But otherwise, it just isn't done. Frankly, most people have a tough enough time finding one agent willing to rep them.
     
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  4. Johnny_Westerner
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    Johnny_Westerner New Member

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    Thanks for that, I suspected it to be the case. I just seem to remember reading somewhere that multiple agents were okay and that it was desirable to have more than one on the basis that you'd stand a better chance of a better deal when trying to sell a piece. I was dubious ...

    It only goes to show that you have to be careful of what you read on the Net.

    Thanks for your reply.
     
  5. Johnny_Westerner
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    Johnny_Westerner New Member

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    Thanks, that confirms what I already thought. Much appreciated.
     
  6. Kat Hawthorne
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    Kat Hawthorne Member

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    There is such a thing as co-agenting for the same book, but it usually has to do with foreign rights. For example, if you have an agent in Canada, but you want to make your book available in Japan as well, your agent can buddy up. That is not something you need to worry about though.

    Other than that, one agent per genre is all you should have (unless the agent represents multiple genres, in which case you may only need one).
     
  7. Johnny_Westerner
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    Johnny_Westerner New Member

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    Thanks very much, this is all valuable info.
     
  8. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've never heard of someone having more than one agent for the same book and I don't know why an agent would allow this. It's possible you could have more than one agent if you had one for book rights and one for movie rights, or one for the US market and another for certain foreign markets. But different agents for the same rights to the same book? I don't even know how that would work.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2015
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  9. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with @chicagoliz and I think if you wanted to do this you better take a good look at your agreement with the agent to make sure you aren't breaching the contract with them, and even beyond that I'd make sure both agents were fully informed as to what was going on. Otherwise, you're asking for trouble. I don't see this sort of thing working out well, unless perhaps they're marking to different geographic areas (i.e. different countries).
     
  10. Amanda_Geisler
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    Amanda_Geisler Contributing Member Reviewer

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    You can often have different agents for different countries.

    If I publish a book through an American agent and publisher but they don't want to distribute here in Australia (bad example I know) I can get them to sign some kind of release so that I can get it published by an Australian agent and publisher here. It is something that you can only do if you have permission by both agents and publishers that are selling your books.

    These days most agents will search through all the publishers they know and maybe some new ones, and the majority of english speaking country publishers will publish in the majority of english speaking countries. If the book does well then they will also look into translating the book and publishing it in other languages.
    ________________
    I had way too my time when I was in high school. I researched all of this not long after I started writing so that I would know what to do in Australia when we only have like 5 decent publishing houses and 20 agents.
     
  11. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Most American agencies, in my experience, have agents to handle foreign rights. My agent isn't at a big firm, but they've got someone who handles foreign rights, film rights, etc. So I still only deal with my agent, and she contacts other agents as needed.

    But, sure, if your US agent doesn't do something, you could find someone else who would. And I think you should definitely inform your US agent, and probably your US publisher, but I don't really think you'd need their permissions. Mutual agreement with your agent makes sense, but I can't see why it would be any of your publisher's business at all. If their contract didn't claim your foreign rights, then they have nothing to say about your foreign rights, as far as I can see.
     
  12. Amanda_Geisler
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    Amanda_Geisler Contributing Member Reviewer

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    After publishing a book a lot of publishers have a partial legal claim over your the publishing rights of your book, so it is good to inform/seek permission. it all really depends on the contract you have with them.
     
  13. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree that it depends on the contract, but... well, I guess if you're not confident in your understanding of the contract, it would make sense to check with somebody who knows. But, really, that person should be you or your agent. Asking the publisher to interpret your contract for you is kind of weird - the contract says what it says, not what they say it says!
     

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