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LloydBrown
06-12-2005, 07:35 PM
I checked out the Writer's Market last night, crossing off agents that don't publish my type of non-fiction book, crossing off those that said they were definitely NOT seeking out new authors, crossing off the ones that prefer exclusivity when considering a proposal, and crossing off those that didn't consider any non-fiction at all.

Monday I'll be spending about $100 on postage for my SASEs.

I was comparing the number of authors represented vs. the number of sales made last year and came up with some interesting numbers. Most agents average one sale for every 2-4 clients. One outstanding agent made one sale for each client! Now, it seems to me that this number would be a good measure of an agent's ability. If his authors take 4 years to find a market and another agent sells nearly every title in a year, you know which is the better agent. Should I really be paying attention to this number at all? Obviously, I know that some writers produce several books, and that the 1:1 ratio doesn't guarantee that the agent was able to sell every client's books within 12 months.

Does this number really have any meaning? If not, why not?

Cathy C
06-12-2005, 08:19 PM
I don't know that there's a good answer for that, LloydBrown. It would seem to make sense that a 1:1 ratio is a good thing, but is that a sale for $2,000 or $200,000? Agents need to make enough money to pay the rent, so some will take on lots of little projects, and some will take on a couple large projects to achieve the same goal.


Also, keep in mind that there are only a very few agents listed in Writer's Market. There are lots more that don't advertise -- whether because they're not looking, or if they just don't feel that the return on investment is worth being in the publication.

You might consider subscribing to Publisher's Marketplace for a couple of months. It's a web service that has a "deals" section. Many, many agents report their deals on the site, and you can search out the names of the people you're interested in querying to see what they've sold and generally for how much. It's $15 per month, but you can unsubscribe at any time. The website is: http://www.publishersmarketplace.com You can also get a free trial subscription to the on-line version of Publisher's Weekly at: http://www.publishersweekly.com and search for the agent's name there, too. They list agent names in both the reviews and articles.

Good luck!

LloydBrown
06-12-2005, 08:29 PM
You might consider subscribing to Publisher's Marketplace for a couple of months. It's a web service that has a "deals" section. Many, many agents report their deals on the site, and you can search out the names of the people you're interested in querying to see what they've sold and generally for how much. It's $15 per month, but you can unsubscribe at any time. The website is: http://www.publishersmarketplace.com (http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/) You can also get a free trial subscription to the on-line version of Publisher's Weekly at: http://www.publishersweekly.com (http://www.publishersweekly.com/) and search for the agent's name there, too. They list agent names in both the reviews and articles.

Good luck!

Thanks. I'll consider that in a few weeks after I've given the pellets from this shotgun-blast a chance to stop bouncing around.

victoriastrauss
06-20-2005, 01:25 AM
I was comparing the number of authors represented vs. the number of sales made last year and came up with some interesting numbers. Most agents average one sale for every 2-4 clients. One outstanding agent made one sale for each client! Now, it seems to me that this number would be a good measure of an agent's ability.IMO, you're on the right track in looking at the ratio of sales to clients, since the same basic sales figures can mean completely different things depending on agency size--5 sales a year would be great for an agency with 10 clients, but for an agency with 50 or 100 it would be pretty poor.

However. You can't be 100% certain that the figures you're seeing are accurate. Also, you can't properly interpret what they mean unless you know what the sales actually are. For instance, is the agent selling entirely to independent publishers? Nothing wrong with this, but if your goal is a sale to a large publishing house, this is probably not the right agent for you. Also, is the agent reporting multi-book sales as a single sale, or as 2 or 3 individual sales? Not knowing that may skew your ratio.

So while I think it makes sense to look at sales vs. clients, I wouldn't give this greater weight than other factors, such as who the agent is selling to and how prestigious those sales are.

- Victoria