View Full Version : Help Deciding Between Offers From Agents

09-16-2011, 10:23 PM
Hi all Im new here but Ive been lurking on these boards for a while and gotten some really useful information that has gotten me this far. Now I was hoping I might be able to get some specific advice.

I have a good problem. I wrote a middle grade/YA novel (about 250 pages and a relatively sophisticated adventure story) and submitted to a bunch of agents not expecting a whole lot to be honest but I got a number of positive reactions and I now have two offers of representation. Problem is I dont know enough to really distinguish between them. They both seem great, but Im a complete novice at this. I know the general answer here tends to be see which one you have a better rapport and fit with but to be honest, I really liked them both, each seemed pretty insightful and think I could work well with either so thats not helping. So Im stuck splitting hairs.

Both are from very legitimate NY agencies and similar in many ways. They are both from smaller (5-6 agents) agencies, have founders who have been around for 30+ years and represent smaller as well as big-time authors (defined as people or books youve heard of). The contract language is almost identical and very author-friendly in both instances. Both claimed to sell between 10-20 books a year and describe a very similar editing and submission process. Here are the particulars of the agents:

Agent A has never done a YA book but is trying to break into it with this book. The agency has done a few YA books, but is more known for political fiction and non-fiction. Even the YA seem to have some ideological slant. That is not what this book is. Agent appears to be very successful (has been an agent for 15+ years), has a track record of selling award-winning books and seems eager to try and sell this one. My concern is whether a lack of strong contacts will be insurmountable. When I asked, Agent said they dont have lunch with these editors every day, but knows them.

Agent B is younger (with 7-8 years of experience) and does 50% fiction/non-fiction but only maybe 10-15% YA so maybe a couple each year. However, Agent B sold a similar YA series within the last few months and indicated that while reading 5-6 editors immediately came to mind who would love it. Agent B also indicated that due to some unique circumstances will typically only have 2-3 projects at a time (which is apparently less than normal?) and is offering what appears to be significant effort to get it published.

So the question is all other things, including fit being roughly equal do you go for the more experienced agent who probably has a longer, more impressive track record who is trying to break into the genre or the younger agent who seems very good and at least has some contacts in the space?

Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks.

09-16-2011, 10:31 PM
Given these circumstances, I think I'd choose the younger agent who's already sold a similar series. (Congratulations, by the way! I hope to be in a similar situation soon. Hope underlined.)

Do you have a subscription to Publishers Marketplace? If not, do so. That way you can check out both agents and see exactly what deals they've made in the last few months.

If Agent B already has five to six editors in mind, that's a good sign. And it sounds like that agent has time to commit to your novel.

Do what you think is best for you.

Good luck!

Miss Plum
09-16-2011, 10:59 PM
I vote for Agent B.

And big congrats!

09-16-2011, 11:18 PM
I'd go with the one w/ YA experience. Agent B.


09-16-2011, 11:23 PM
This really isn't a responsibility that anyone here can shoulder for you. have you tried contacting any of the agent's clients with a simple email asking for their experiences with the agent/agency in question?

09-16-2011, 11:47 PM
Thanks for the feedback. I guess what I was hoping to get is some insight into whether my sense that the YA experience must matter somewhat is valid. Consensus seems to be leaning toward the genre specific experience is more important that being a more senior agent.

Thanks. It's helpful to get some different perspectives.

09-17-2011, 12:41 AM
Agent B.

09-17-2011, 12:54 AM
Go with the one who can remember the details about the book you're most fond of. This indicates an agent who gets what you're trying to do.

B sounds good overall. If B seems significantly more enthusiastic than A, that would clinch the deal for me.

Carrie in PA
09-17-2011, 03:37 AM
Yep, B sounds like the winner to me, mainly because of a proven sales record. Congratulations!!

09-18-2011, 03:00 AM
Thanks all. It seems unanimous. You confirmed my thinking. I'll let you know how it goes. Thanks again.

09-18-2011, 11:54 PM
I was in a similar situation last week. I asked both agents for clients' phone numbers and spoke to several at length.

I also spoke quite a bit with the agents. I had a list of questions about their working styles, because my last agent was too hands-off for me.

Just wanted to throw that in... How an agent deals with clients (how fast or slow they respond, how hands-on they are with editing proposals or pitches, how many editors they will query) was almost as important to me as their track records.

Just my two cents... and CONGRATULATIONS!!!

09-19-2011, 12:02 AM
Congrats either way!

Serena Casey
09-19-2011, 12:07 AM
What a wonderful problem to have, congratulations! :) I agree B sounds like the best bet, not that I have any experience in these matters, but that's the way I lean.

09-23-2011, 06:38 PM
Thanks for all the input - went with Agent B. Now let's see what happens. Thanks again

09-23-2011, 06:49 PM
I'd check out some writing samples (on Amazon is a good place to start) of many of each agent's clients. Choose the agent who represents more clients whose styles are similar to yours.

I will tell you from experience that it's really rough to be the "test client" for an agent breaking into an unfamiliar genre. Both my agents were YA specialists and I was their only client who wrote adult fiction. Both were awesome agents and did a professional job with trying to sell my books, but neither was successful. Sometimes that's just the way it goes in this business, but sometimes it's a case of not having strong enough contacts in the right places to sell the work. If you do decide to go with Agent A and to be his/her first YA client, be prepared for a possibly bumpy ride and some disappointments along the way. It's not the end of the world when an agent can't sell your books, but it doesn't feel like a party with balloons and ponies, either.

09-23-2011, 06:50 PM
Oh, wait...you already decided! Good. That'll teach me to not look at the dates of posts . :P Well, I'll leave my advice up to help out others in a similar situation.