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Thread: The Fischer-Harbage Agency

  1. #1
    Halfway between here and there Maui Author's Avatar
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    The Fischer-Harbage Agency

    I was wondering if anyone had any personal experience with this agency.

    Here is the info I have found so far:

    Agency's website: http://www.fischerharbage.com/index.html

    Info on AgentQuery: http://www.agentquery.com/agent.aspx?agentid=874

    Info on QueryTracker: http://www.querytracker.net/agent.php?agent=863

    And this was just announced on Publisher's Lunch:

    Associate director of The New School's MFA program Jackson Taylor's THE BLUE ORCHARD, based on the true story of a white nurse and a black doctor who were arrested for performing "illegal surgeries" in 1955 Harrisburg, Pa., to Sulay Hernandez at Touchstone Fireside, for publication in Fall 2009, by Ryan Fischer-Harbage at the Fischer-Harbage Agency (NA).
    Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want something badly enough. They are there to keep out the other people.
    - Randy Pausch

  2. #2
    practical experience, FTW
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    I sent a query over a month ago, but have not received a response. However, I thought he looked good or I would not have queried. Good luck.

  3. #3
    The writer around the corner Bourgeois Nerd's Avatar
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    That was a good idea, gettingby, as I just checked this agent out and they accept mostly nonfiction. They also, sadly, accept less than 5% unsolicited material. Which means that you have to be recommended by a connection in publishing. Otherwise, hope that you're in the less than 5% of the slush pile that captures their fancy. That doesn't sound like very good odds to me.

  4. #4
    Do Not Walk on the Grass Emily Winslow's Avatar
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    How is that 5% different from any other agent? All (legitimate) agents are selective; that's their point and their value. Would you want an agent who takes on projects that don't "capture their fancy"?

    And why do you think that having a "connection" in publishing will get them to sign you, if your project doesn't appeal to them? Either it appeals, and they would have taken it on anyway, or it doesn't, in which case they won't. Do you have reason to believe they sign friends, or friends-of-friends, whose projects they dislike?

    Maybe I misunderstood your post. If so, please correct me!

    Quote Originally Posted by Bourgeois Nerd View Post
    That was a good idea, gettingby, as I just checked this agent out and they accept mostly nonfiction. They also, sadly, accept less than 5% unsolicited material. Which means that you have to be recommended by a connection in publishing. Otherwise, hope that you're in the less than 5% of the slush pile that captures their fancy. That doesn't sound like very good odds to me.


    "[Winslow is] brilliant at portraying the ragged fragments of these lives. What emerges isn't a single killer with motive and means, but a tangle of stories crossing and colliding, stray intersections of incidents and accidents, misunderstandings and misreadings, all thanks to the myopia of individual perspectives and the self-centeredness of individual desires.”
    -Washington Post

  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW
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    Connections do help. I have used the few I have. Of course, you need a good book too, but when you have a solid connection the agent is likely to request and read faster. That has been my experience. Also, I would like to believe I am in the top five percent of unsolicited material. I think everyone wants to think that, and then when you get a request it makes you feel all the better knowing that they really see something in your work.

  6. #6
    Do Not Walk on the Grass Emily Winslow's Avatar
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    Do connections help? I suppose so, in the sense, as you say, of getting a faster read. But they don't get you signed with an agent, not unless your book is good enough to sign. If it is, it can also get signed without the connections.

    My concern is that Bourgeois Nerd was saying that 5% isn't good "odds," when odds isn't the point at all. Regardless of how few new authors an agents signs annually, a terrible book has bad odds and a great book has good odds. It's not the luck of the draw here.

    The connections were mentioned as a way to get around the bad "odds" of the slushpile. Connections might get you to the top of the slushpile to be read next. Maybe a top-notch connection can prompt a request for partial or even a full. But the book has to absolutely stand on its own to get to the step you really care about: an offer. And if it's that good, the connections weren't necessary. Handy, yes. But not necessary.

    Quote Originally Posted by gettingby View Post
    Connections do help. I have used the few I have. Of course, you need a good book too, but when you have a solid connection the agent is likely to request and read faster. That has been my experience. Also, I would like to believe I am in the top five percent of unsolicited material. I think everyone wants to think that, and then when you get a request it makes you feel all the better knowing that they really see something in your work.


    "[Winslow is] brilliant at portraying the ragged fragments of these lives. What emerges isn't a single killer with motive and means, but a tangle of stories crossing and colliding, stray intersections of incidents and accidents, misunderstandings and misreadings, all thanks to the myopia of individual perspectives and the self-centeredness of individual desires.”
    -Washington Post

  7. #7
    Who's going for a beer? waylander's Avatar
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    Maybe connections can you past the intern who is doing the first cull of the slushpile. After that the work has to stand on its own.

  8. #8
    The writer around the corner Bourgeois Nerd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by waylander View Post
    Maybe connections can you past the intern who is doing the first cull of the slushpile. After that the work has to stand on its own.
    This is precisely what I was saying. Being in the slushpile doesn't help matters. And if it's not a matter of 'odds,' then why is a percentage mentioned?

    OF COURSE THE WORK HAS TO STAND ON ITS OWN. I thought this was a given. My point was that it's tougher to get past the gatekeepers or even get a chance to be on top of the slushpile if you didn't have a reference from someone that agent knows and the all-important 'requested' mark.

    Gettingby also made similar points regarding what I was saying.

  9. #9
    Do Not Walk on the Grass Emily Winslow's Avatar
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    I'm not trying to fight you, Bourgeois Nerd! No need to shout :-) It's just that, if the work does stand on its own, then it *will* get past the intern, all by itself.

    As for why the percentage is mentioned, I can't say what was in that agent's mind (or the mind of whoever said it about that agent). Perhaps they were trying to communicate that finishing a novel doesn't inevitably lead to representation or publication--lots of people do it, and few of them get to the next stage. That is reality. And it applies to *all* legit agents, not just this one.

    The negative attitude towards "gatekeepers" is a common one, as is the idea that you need something extra besides a good book. But honestly, truly, new writers are pulled out of the slushpile all the time, without any tricks or connections.

    If you're thinking of a publisher's slushpile, that is a much harder place to be. There, you're competing with agented submissions and very much at a disadvantage. But an agency slushpile? That's where pretty much all their new clients are coming from.

    Lots and lots of writers here at AW have come by representation via the slushpile. I'm one of them. I'm saying all this to encourage new writers: there really is no secret, no "extra," necessary. Write a terrific book, then write a better one, and so on. Persist. Improve. Query widely.

    Anyway, I'm sorry to say that I have no info to share about this agent specifically. I wish you all the best in your query process.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bourgeois Nerd View Post
    This is precisely what I was saying. Being in the slushpile doesn't help matters. And if it's not a matter of 'odds,' then why is a percentage mentioned?

    OF COURSE THE WORK HAS TO STAND ON ITS OWN. I thought this was a given. My point was that it's tougher to get past the gatekeepers or even get a chance to be on top of the slushpile if you didn't have a reference from someone that agent knows and the all-important 'requested' mark.

    Gettingby also made similar points regarding what I was saying.
    Last edited by Emily Winslow; 06-29-2008 at 08:31 PM.


    "[Winslow is] brilliant at portraying the ragged fragments of these lives. What emerges isn't a single killer with motive and means, but a tangle of stories crossing and colliding, stray intersections of incidents and accidents, misunderstandings and misreadings, all thanks to the myopia of individual perspectives and the self-centeredness of individual desires.”
    -Washington Post

  10. #10
    The writer around the corner Bourgeois Nerd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Emily Winslow View Post
    I'm not trying to fight you, Bourgeois Nerd! No need to shout :-)
    I wasn't shouting. If I had been, the whole post would have been bolded and in caps. I only put that one in because I felt that I had been misunderstood in that important point. It does insult one's intelligence for others to assume that you think you don't have to write a good book in order to get published. I thought that was obvious but apparently it wasn't, so I bolded my statement to make sure people understood that I understood it.


    Anyway, I'm sorry to say that I have no info to share about this agent specifically.
    I have a question. If you didn't have anything specific to post about this agency, then what was it that drew you to this thread?

  11. #11
    Do Not Walk on the Grass Emily Winslow's Avatar
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    I like reading the Bewares/Checks threads, for both recommended and not-recommended agents and publishers. It's a good education in the business side of writing.

    Again, good luck in your agent search!

    Quote Originally Posted by Bourgeois Nerd View Post
    I have a question. If you didn't have anything specific to post about this agency, then what was it that drew you to this thread?
    Last edited by Emily Winslow; 07-01-2008 at 05:36 PM.


    "[Winslow is] brilliant at portraying the ragged fragments of these lives. What emerges isn't a single killer with motive and means, but a tangle of stories crossing and colliding, stray intersections of incidents and accidents, misunderstandings and misreadings, all thanks to the myopia of individual perspectives and the self-centeredness of individual desires.”
    -Washington Post

  12. #12
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    [quote=Maui Author;2454912]I was wondering if anyone had any personal experience with this agency.

    Here is the info I have found so far:

    Agency's website: http://www.fischerharbage.com/index.html

    Yes, I just met with him as he's interested in repping my first novel. He seems like a really great guy and tough negotiator. I know a client of his and she's very happy with him. I'm just waiting to hear back from two other agents before I make a decision. They're at bigger, better known agencies so it would be a very tough choice.

    Would love opinions on whether a small agency with fewer clients would be preferable to an agency like William Morris who's big but powerful?

  13. #13
    figuring it all out Leigh86's Avatar
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    I just tried to query him twice and both times it came back with an email saying failure to deliver. I'm not sure if the problem on my end or there's, but I've never had any problems like that before.
    Is this happening to anybody else?
    Lord... I need an AGENT!

  14. #14
    practical experience, FTW frandavea's Avatar
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    I queried these guys in July 08, then inquired twice after. Heard nothing. I understand agents get a ton of queries, but, geez, would it kill 'em to at least shoot back a form rejection?
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  15. #15
    Historical Fiction and Other Stuff
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    I had this happen, too. The link on their submissions page looks OK, but it generates a bad email address. Maybe it's a test?


    Quote Originally Posted by Leigh86 View Post
    I just tried to query him twice and both times it came back with an email saying failure to deliver. I'm not sure if the problem on my end or there's, but I've never had any problems like that before.
    Is this happening to anybody else?

  16. #16
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    no response...

    I met this agent and liked him. I queried him with a novel and he responded that he wanted to read it, asked for the whole manuscript... never got back to me... but I figured that just I'd met and talked with him a few times, doesn't mean much in this business. A year later, despite not having heard about the previous manuscript, I decided to query again with another novel I'd been working on for three years. He got right back to me and apologized for dropping the earlier novel and said he'd read this one in a month, which was good speed for him. A month goes by, no word. Two months goes by, no word. So, I send an email. This time, no response. Sort of frustrating. It's endemic of the whole industry. So many agents have this attitude. I don't buy that they are so busy that they can't dash off a quick "form" email to let you know that your novel isn't for them. They just leave you hanging. Of course, this really bugs me because he (and many others) have asked for complete manuscripts. If you ask for the book, you should be prepared to at least reject the author with a bit of timely dignity. That being said, I did like this agent quite a bit. He seemed earnest and energetic in our conversations and apparently he is working hard for other people. Maybe he is just overwhelmed with work.

  17. #17
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Lucy Dashwood's Avatar
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    Late with this reply but I think the most common complaint for clients of William Morris is that they are lost at a big agency. There are jokes about it. "How do you commit the perfect murder? Kill your wife and get an agent from the Morris Agency. They'll never find you."
    Nothing is inevitable.

  18. #18
    AW Addict nicolesingslave's Avatar
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    Mr. Ryan Fischer-Harbage was previously with a heavy hitter agency called, Vigliano Associates. Here's the thread:
    http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/...t=84575&page=2

  19. #19
    practical experience, FTW
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    Has anyone heard anything about Nicole Robson at Fischer-Harbage? I subbed to her in January and wonder if I should ask her if she received it or just assume she's uninterested.
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  20. #20
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Updating link: http://www.fischerharbage.com/site.html

    Responses are taking up to six months.
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