View Full Version : The Agent or the Work

08-17-2010, 11:39 PM
Are there cases where a good agent can sell a book that a bad agent can't? What are some of the signs that your agent is the problem and not your manuscript?

Little Red Barn
08-17-2010, 11:44 PM
Looking at the sub list might be a start. Seeing if it's going to specific genre editors.

08-18-2010, 12:42 AM
Are there cases where a good agent can sell a book that a bad agent can't? What are some of the signs that your agent is the problem and not your manuscript?

If the manuscript isn't even getting read - ie, the agent can't get editors to agree to read it or it languishes unread for ages on editors' desks - then it *could* be the agent. A good agent will know how to: (i) pick the right editors for the project, (ii) pitch the book to them in a way that will make them want to read it, and (iii) actually get the mauscript read in a reasonable period of time. And even great agents sometimes have manuscripts that languish, depending on factors outside the agent's control - like an exceptionally busy editor/house.

If it's gettiing read but rejected, there's a chance it could still be, at least partly, the agent picking the wrong editors to pitch.

But if the manuscript *is* getting read by the right editors, editors who might be interested in the manuscript, but those editors keep passing, then it is likely the manuscript, and not the agent.


08-18-2010, 12:47 AM
What suki said.

Ask your agent for their sub list. Also ask your agent for any rejections he or she has received from the editors that have seen your manuscript. These things will help you diagnose the problem.

08-18-2010, 01:15 AM
A couple of agents ago a manuscript of mine was getting comments like "I never do this kind of book." In other cases, it sat at places for more than six months without the agent following up. The agent said, "If they haven't read it in six months, it means no." If a new agent takes this book on, I wonder if it's really been eliminated at the places where it was never read, of if it went to the right editor at the places where it was.

08-18-2010, 01:21 AM
Those are not good signs, which is why you need your current agent's submission list--editor/imprint/house. If you do end up parting ways with this agent and are able to interest another, that new agent is going to want to know who's seen the book.

08-18-2010, 02:34 AM
It depends. It shouldn't matter, unless they have no clue who to submit to. It may often mean the process will take a lot longer, because they don't have a relationship pushing that editor to read faster. But if the writing is great, it shouldn't matter where it is on the slush pile, if they like it, they'll pick it up.

Giant Baby
08-18-2010, 03:09 AM
I'm going to disagree. There can be other problems, like inattention or a history of submitting inappropriate or inferior manuscripts, that leads the editor to take the submission less seriously.

But, I agree the "I never do this kind of book" quote is worrying. It seems to me that's the sort of comment having an agent is supposed to make obsolete.

Sorry to hear it's been tough, Popmuze.