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SJBell
05-21-2010, 01:37 AM
So, I got my Writers House Query sent off (One page query letter, one page synopsis. Thanks for the help, AW! ^_^v ), and now we move on to the next one on the list. It's a highly respected agency, listed "recommended" on P&E, and I have a specific agent in mind. According to her bio, she sounds like she'd love my MS. Something makes me nervous, though. This agent has NO clients listed. None. She has nothing published, no Publishers Marketplace profile, and very little activity on QueryTracker. The agency is legit, I'm sure of that. However, the agent in particular is inexperienced at least and incompetent at worst. There are other agents at the same agency that have decent records, but their bios don't seem to be as in synch with what I have to offer at this time.

So, the question is: Given an inexperienced agent at a respected and successful agency, can I assume that she'll provide me the same quality of service as other more experienced agents at the same Agency?

Stacia Kane
05-21-2010, 01:51 AM
Does anything come up when you Google her? Does the agency have a blog, maybe, where they announce that their intern/assistant is taking clients?

I can't say absolutely without knowing the agency, but in general, new agents at established agencies are a great bet. They've usually been interns or assistants first, learning the ropes, and when they start they're usually overseen or guided by one of the agents. So you're not going to get incompetent management or a total newbie, you're going to get someone who knows the job, probably has at least a year or so of experience already, and has plenty of seasoned agents to back her up.

Good luck!

jennontheisland
05-21-2010, 01:55 AM
Could be she just hasn't updated her info in those places.

thothguard51
05-21-2010, 02:50 AM
I have no problem with a new agent at an established agency. They tend to be a little more hungry...

Mishell
05-21-2010, 07:55 PM
Yes, I think that would be almost an ideal situation. She has training, people around her to give advice etc. who are not in direct competition with her, the publishers will respect her because they recognize the agency name... but she also has something to prove, and won't be busy with a bajillion other clients.

waylander
05-21-2010, 10:21 PM
New agent at established agency = BIG OPPORTUNITY

Established agents take maybe 2/3 clients a year, new agents may take 20

frisco
05-22-2010, 12:45 AM
New agent at established agency = BIG OPPORTUNITY

Established agents take maybe 2/3 clients a year, new agents may take 20

That last comment was enough to get me to submit my query to a new agent. I've been trying established agents for a while now, but nothing has happened as of yet. Maybe a new agent will show a little more love to a new writer--I can hope anyway.

waylander
05-22-2010, 01:27 AM
It worked for me

Monlette
05-25-2010, 09:47 PM
There are drawbacks.

A new agent hasn't gotten a feel for what sells and what doesn't, so he'll tend to sign books he enjoys, only to cool on them when he doesn't get any bites from the publishers.

A lot work remotely, so they might not get the handholding they might need from the more senior agents.

A new agent might sign too many authors to build a client list and then become unresponsive or disorganized.

Without a track record there is no way of knowing if they are in it for the long haul.

Not saying that you shouldn't do it, just playing devil's advocate.

MissKris
05-25-2010, 10:57 PM
There are drawbacks.

A new agent hasn't gotten a feel for what sells and what doesn't, so he'll tend to sign books he enjoys, only to cool on them when he doesn't get any bites from the publishers. This depends on how involved with sales they've been during their internship/assistantship and how well-read they are in the genres they represent. Also, new agents have and will continue to meet with editors to hear what those editors are looking for.

A lot work remotely, so they might not get the handholding they might need from the more senior agents. Of the six or so new agents I know of in the last six-eight months, only one of those works remotely, so I'm not sure where the "a lot" comes from. And the one that works remotely is in daily contact with the (prestigious) agency owner (plus has publishing contacts made from her own author days).

A new agent might sign too many authors to build a client list and then become unresponsive or disorganized. This is certainly possible. But it doesn't discriminate between new agents and established agents. I can think of two established agents off the top of my head who lost clients because of this.

Without a track record there is no way of knowing if they are in it for the long haul. Again, this is true across the board, though an agent with ten years in the business is likely to still be around in another ten years, sure. At least with a large agency behind the new agent, there is a better chance of getting support if the agent does up and leave.

Not saying that you shouldn't do it, just playing devil's advocate.

Also playing devil's advocate . . . to your devil's advocate. ;)


I was the second (I think) client my agent took on. She's backed by an awesome agency. Since she started, she's brokered a handful of auctions and had been great at communicating with her clients. It's great to be able to build a history in publishing together.

Monlette
05-26-2010, 09:39 PM
Understood. ;)

The road to his house is pathed with the intentions of fledgling agents. There are certainly lessons that people have to learn the hard way. How many times have you seen statements like the following on a newly minted agents webpage?

* I'm especially interested in non-violent westerns, especially stories about lumberjacks.

* The length of a manuscript doesn't figure into my selection process. It is the quality of the writing and story that matter.

* I promise to consider all materials carefully and reply with detailed feedback in the order received. If you don't hear from me in six weeks, feel free to resend.

I'll bet you within a year they'll all be singing a different tune. The gal who likes lumberjack stories will be repping YA/MG to the exclusion of everything else. Mr. Quality-not-quantity will be asking for a wordcount in his query letters and rejecting everything over 90K words. The one who promises to respond to everything will respond to nothing but certain medications.

I'm not saying landing a up-and-comer is a bad thing. In fact if you've written a 130K novel about lumberjacks, this is your golden ticket! A lot of influential bestsellers were discovered by agents or assistants who were too new to realize they were out on a limb. But bear in mind that a new agent is one without a history that you can research.

But I've seen people with multiple offers turn down agents with current books on the NYTB list for a newbie, because the newbie was "nicer" or "hungrier" or "fell in love" or "will offer more personalized attention" and I nearly burst into tears.

Cricket18
05-26-2010, 10:11 PM
So, I got my Writers House Query sent off (One page query letter, one page synopsis. Thanks for the help, AW! ^_^v ), and now we move on to the next one on the list. It's a highly respected agency, listed "recommended" on P&E, and I have a specific agent in mind. According to her bio, she sounds like she'd love my MS. Something makes me nervous, though. This agent has NO clients listed. None. She has nothing published, no Publishers Marketplace profile, and very little activity on QueryTracker. The agency is legit, I'm sure of that. However, the agent in particular is inexperienced at least and incompetent at worst. There are other agents at the same agency that have decent records, but their bios don't seem to be as in synch with what I have to offer at this time.

So, the question is: Given an inexperienced agent at a respected and successful agency, can I assume that she'll provide me the same quality of service as other more experienced agents at the same Agency?

SJBell-

Sounds like you may be talking about my agent. Feel free to pm me. All I can say is that my agent interned for a year and a half, and I feel she knows what she is doing. She saw things in my ms that no other agent did. She "got it." She's also young and hungry. And the owner of the agency and I have communicated many times. He has an incredible reputation and I'm certain he's watching over her. Anyway, so far, I have zero complaints. Each situation is unique.

I have to admit, someone new to the business who wasn't backed by a great agency would scare me off. But someone who has done their time at an established agency makes me think it could be a great move for you.

Good luck to you!

SJBell
05-26-2010, 11:27 PM
Ah, forgot I had left this thread hanging. I did wind up sending her the query, we'll see if she gets back to me. In the meantime, the search continues...

inkspatters
05-27-2010, 03:05 AM
Understood. ;)

The road to his house is pathed with the intentions of fledgling agents. There are certainly lessons that people have to learn the hard way. How many times have you seen statements like the following on a newly minted agents webpage?

* I'm especially interested in non-violent westerns, especially stories about lumberjacks. Uh, never. But that's pretty niche, lol.

* The length of a manuscript doesn't figure into my selection process. It is the quality of the writing and story that matter. Yeah, a couple times. But also on established agents' web pages. The reason a lot of newer (and older) agents don't factor word count in is because if they think the story is great, they're willing to work with the author to cut things. A friend of mine began with a story well over 200k and with the help of her agent cut it down to around 120k. It sold :)

* I promise to consider all materials carefully and reply with detailed feedback in the order received. If you don't hear from me in six weeks, feel free to resend. Never seen anyone mention anything about giving detailed feedback. Have seen things about people considering materials in the order received.

I'll bet you within a year they'll all be singing a different tune. The gal who likes lumberjack stories will be repping YA/MG to the exclusion of everything else You're assuming that new agents are totally green, but that isn't true. Most of them work in agencies for quite some time before beginning to acquire their own material. During this time, they usually develop an eye for what's saleable and what they like. If they want to rep YA and MG only, they'll probably know by the time they begin acquiring their own projects Mr. Quality-not-quantity will be asking for a wordcount in his query letters and rejecting everything over 90K words Doubt it, same reason as above. They're not quite that green when they begin, if they don't manuscripts over 90k, they'll reject them from the get go. The one who promises to respond to everything will respond to nothing but certain medications.

I'm not saying landing a up-and-comer is a bad thing. In fact if you've written a 130K novel about lumberjacks, this is your golden ticket! A lot of influential bestsellers were discovered by agents or assistants who were too new to realize they were out on a limb. But bear in mind that a new agent is one without a history that you can research. That's not necessarily true. It depends on how you define "new". My agent's pretty new (been in the business for about a year), but she's already made a number of deals that were pretty easy for me to research. And she has a history as an author that I could research, too.


But I've seen people with multiple offers turn down agents with current books on the NYTB list for a newbie, because the newbie was "nicer" or "hungrier" or "fell in love" or "will offer more personalized attention" and I nearly burst into tears. Hmm, ultimately, when in the whole multiple offers situation you have to go with your gut.

As for the "fell in love with it" and "hungrier" thing, well, those are logical to me. If your agent doesn't love your novel, well then what're the chances they're going to keep on sticking with it after the 26th rejection from a publishing house? Or up to the 9th new draft? And hungrier generally means they'll be more eager to keep submitting that MS and make a deal.

Just joining the game of devil's advocate :D

Monlette
05-27-2010, 10:43 PM
The reason a lot of newer (and older) agents don't factor word count in is because if they think the story is great, they're willing to work with the author to cut things. A friend of mine began with a story well over 200k and with the help of her agent cut it down to around 120k. It sold :)


I like that! If I ever become an agent I'll be sure to do that too. :D



As for the "fell in love with it" and "hungrier" thing, well, those are logical to me. If your agent doesn't love your novel, well then what're the chances they're going to keep on sticking with it after the 26th rejection from a publishing house? Or up to the 9th new draft? And hungrier generally means they'll be more eager to keep submitting that MS and make a deal.


Yes, but if an agent has gotten a few huge deals under her belt, I'd imagine that the houses will be more willing to take her at her word when she says you're the next big thing.



Just joining the game of devil's advocate :D


Me too. I could take either side of the debate. ;)

aruna
05-29-2010, 04:25 PM
For the record, here's a website listing a couple of hungry new agents:

http://workflowwriting.com/15329/new-agent-alert-dorothy-spencer-of-the-jennifer-dechiara-literary-agency.php




Without a track record there is no way of knowing if they are in it for the long haul.


So true. Three years ago I had a hungry new Writers House agent. She had interned with one of their top dogs so I felt very confident. After about six months she dropped out of agenting to take on a plum job in PR, leaving me high and dry. I did correspond wiht another Writers House agent after she left but he said she had already shopped the book to everyone he would have and there's nothing he could do.

Julie Worth
05-29-2010, 04:38 PM
So, the question is: Given an inexperienced agent at a respected and successful agency, can I assume that she'll provide me the same quality of service as other more experienced agents at the same Agency?

If you equate quality of service with selling it, for sure. A new agent who had no sales picked up The Notebook from the slush pile and sold it for a million dollars, while ten experienced agents who read the book didn't think they could sell it at all.

cscarlet
05-29-2010, 06:13 PM
I think you're missing the point ... you send your query off, and then you wait to see if anyone gets back to you on it. If they love it, then you ask for their references and for a list of things they've sold. If they can't produce much, then you ask questions to see if you still feel comfortable with them or not.

But all if this is moot unless they ask to take you on.

Stacia Kane
05-30-2010, 04:12 AM
I think you're missing the point ... you send your query off, and then you wait to see if anyone gets back to you on it. If they love it, then you ask for their references and for a list of things they've sold. If they can't produce much, then you ask questions to see if you still feel comfortable with them or not.

But all if this is moot unless they ask to take you on.



I disagree. I would never recommend a writer query an agent about whom they know nothing; the advice we always give here is to research BEFORE querying.

It's hard to say no to an agent who's offering representation, especially when you've essentially wasted their time and yours by not researching them first. It's hard not to think, "Well, at least it's an agent..." when they offer. Especially if it's the only offer you received.

Scammers everywhere count on writers to not research before submitting.

The time to learn about their sales etc. is before you send that query.



But I've seen people with multiple offers turn down agents with current books on the NYTB list for a newbie, because the newbie was "nicer" or "hungrier" or "fell in love" or "will offer more personalized attention" and I nearly burst into tears.

Oh, I totally agree. I've seen the same thing and felt the same way, and three years later those writers have finally wised up and are looking for a new agent. But in those cases the agent was a brand-new newbie; someone who just set out a shingle, basically, and claimed they could do the job because they'd done a lot of studying or whatever. (I wonder if you're thinking of the same agent I'm thinking of?)

I do think it's different when the new agent is at a prestigious and effective agency, and they interned there or were an assistant there.

Terie
05-30-2010, 12:17 PM
The road to his house is pathed with the intentions of fledgling agents. There are certainly lessons that people have to learn the hard way. How many times have you seen statements like the following on a newly minted agents webpage?

I don't think you read the full title of this thread. It's 'Inexperienced agent at established agency'. None of the things you're talking about are likely to happen with new agents at established agencies. They're much more likely to happen with new agents hanging out their shingles with no actual qualifications.

Libbie
05-30-2010, 08:14 PM
New agent at established agency = BIG OPPORTUNITY

Established agents take maybe 2/3 clients a year, new agents may take 20

Exactly. Big opportunity.

You may very well be talking about my own agent. When she signed me, she had just transitioned from being an assistant at the agency to managing her own list. I was eager to sign with her because the mere fact that she was working for this well-established agency meant she was surely no dummy. It's turned out to be a great decision -- she's a tireless worker who's been selling the hell out of not only my finished novel, but a partially written novel, too. No contracts offered yet, but we've only had my book(s) on submission for about two months...and she's taken them straight to the biggest publishers.

I'd search AW for this new agent's name (the one you queried, that is). Determine who's working with her. Ask these people directly for their experiences with her. Just because she's new doesn't mean she's a bad agent. My sneaking suspicion is that my agent is going to be among the top in the industry in a very short timeframe. (And she has made sales already -- the information is just hard to find.)