1. Adam Bolander

    Adam Bolander Senior Member

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    Agent or Small Press?

    Discussion in 'Traditional Publishing' started by Adam Bolander, Oct 10, 2020.

    I've spent the last year or so searching for a literary agent to represent my books to publishers, but no luck. Somebody just told me that my time might be better spent finding small (and legit) publishing houses that accept queries from authors and trying to go through them. It probably won't land me a huge deal like a bigger house would offer, but at least I'd be getting somewhere. What do you guys think?

    Also, while we're here, does anybody have any specific agents or publishers they'd recommend I submit to? I need someone who's looking for young adult urban fantasy. Thanks!
     
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  2. r.ross

    r.ross Member

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    Hi Adam,
    Getting an agent is hard - I sympathise with you. Have you tried searching for new agents? New agents will be expanding their lists and actively seeking new clients.
     
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  3. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributor Contributor

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    I don't think there is a right or wrong answer.

    Work on your next novel while continuing to seek an agent. Once finished, you will have two novels to send out to agents. Unless, it is in the same series. And, of course, finding an agent does not equate to the manuscript finding a publisher.

    You are correct in that finding a 'legitimate' small publisher is important. An inept or scammy small press can do far more harm than good to a writing career.

    It really depends on your goals. Most small presses will not get you into bookstores. The immediate 'reader base' of a small press is less than a major press, so even launching will be more difficult. Yes, big presses have larger marketing budgets and platforms and connections, but often new authors do not get a lot of effort in those areas.

    Other things to consider with agents:
    The query letter may not be doing the trick and needs to be changed
    YA Urban fantasy may be a tough sell to an agent (because it may be a tough sell to publishers)
    Maybe the story doesn't work for them

    My opinion?
    You have to follow your dream/your goal the best you can. If you view small press as an opportunity, that is one thing. If you view going with a small press as settling, that is another. And there is no guarantee that a small press will pick up your novel. If you do well with a small press, it could be a stepping stone for an agent, and possibly a big press contract.

    I've been with a small press for a number of years, and have been happy. I've sold good number of books, but not nearly the volume I suspect I would if I were to have published the same # of novels with a large press. My books make a profit for my publisher, but the numbers probably wouldn't justify renewed contracts with some of the big houses.

    My publisher doesn't publish YA books. I don't know off hand of any that do since YA isn't what I write. :(
     
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  4. Adam Bolander

    Adam Bolander Senior Member

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    That's an interesting idea. Do you know a website that lists newer agents?
     
  5. r.ross

    r.ross Member

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    If you google/search: new agents seeking <your genre> you'll find something.

    I googled 'new agents seeking YA fantasy' and the 3rd result down looks promising.
     
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  6. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Senior Member

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    I can't imagine trad publishing without an agent.

    what are you writing while you're querying?
     
  7. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    I personally went the small press route when I first published my books.

    The only caveat I would point out (unfortunately from experience) is that small presses have a greater chance of going under, which mine ultimately did. They were a legit publisher who had been around for 10 years, were well respected in the genre, and published thousands of books, but ultimately they couldn't compete in the changing publishing market.

    When your publisher goes out of business, your books go out of print and it's almost impossible to get another publisher to pick them up. It sucks. I eventually self-published my entire backlist, but it wasn't how I set out to do things, and I have little time/money for promotion.
     
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  8. Adam Bolander

    Adam Bolander Senior Member

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  9. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Funky like your grandpa's drawers.... Staff Contributor

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    You're going to want to have dozens of agents lined up. They take something like one out of every 500 manuscripts (??) And you could waiting months for a response... so have a plan and a backup plan and a steady stream of manuscripts.
     
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  10. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Senior Member

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    no, I mean, what book are you writing while you're querying?
     
  11. Adam Bolander

    Adam Bolander Senior Member

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    Oh, I've been working on a new story. Completely unconnected to Henry Rider. It doesn't have a title yet, but I've posted the first chapter here if you want to see it: https://www.writingforums.org/threads/untitled-shapeshifter-fantasy.167004/
     
  12. r.ross

    r.ross Member

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    Adam, I've just read your cover letter (Henry Rider) - sounds like a great concept. Original. Fingers crossed you find an agent.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2020
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  13. r.ross

    r.ross Member

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    @Adam Bolander - I forgot to ask, have you ever used query tracker? That's a good spot to find agents. You can search via genres on there. Very helpful.
     
  14. jimmybobb

    jimmybobb Banned

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    I would not limit my search.
    Do both.

    There are directories that list agents and the type of material they want.
    Many of them give specific ways to approach them on their web site.

    Ditto for publishers and what they specialize in.
    Focus on the ones that do your genre.

    I would look at your library for resources on agents. Writers' Market is a good start.
    There are other ones that are more detailed.
    They may have info on publishers and their genres too.
    Ask your reference librarian for help.

    Also suggest that you study up on how to get an agent, how to write a book proposal, and similar related skills needed to succeed.

    On a practical note, the bigger the market the more interested agents and publishers would be.
    I have no feel for "young adult urban fantasy" but suspect it is a minor sub genre of YA or Fantasy that might not be that large.
    Do you have any statistics or information on that YAUF market and its size?
     
  15. jimmybobb

    jimmybobb Banned

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    Writersmarket.com (subscription service of Writers Digest) should list agencies by genre.
    Doubt they list them by newness but might list years they have been in business. Not sure as I have not used that resource in some time now.
     
  16. jimmybobb

    jimmybobb Banned

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    Left me confused. But I do not read fantasy books.
    And parts of it seemed to not be directly aimed at creating the best query letter possible.
    Now if those were well known words in the fantasy genre then it could work of tightened up.
     
  17. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    theres a reasonably exhaustive list of american agents here http://aaronline.org/Find (which is searchable by keyword, fantasy gives 76 results) ... the advantage of a site like Aaron is that it weeds out the disreputable agents...

    however you might also want to read this article on avoiding agents who arent worth your time https://www.sfwa.org/other-resources/for-authors/writer-beware/agents/ there are a lot of other useful links at the foot of the article
     
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  18. Muxy001

    Muxy001 New Member

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    Maybe you could differentiate your approach to literary agents.

    You might approach an agent with more than JUST a manuscript.

    For example, I'm writing on the subject of Lateral Thinking (investigations). I've built a website heavily optimized for the subject of lateral thinking. The book is still about a year off, but already I'm getting more than 5,000 visits a month to my website.

    My thinking is that I might differentiate myself by offering a sort of "head-start" for the literary agent to approach publishers.

    Hope this helps you think of something fresh to try.

    MM
     

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