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Undercover
11-13-2011, 01:25 AM
I have an agent interested in my ms. but I am not 100% sure I want to go ahead with the deal. The agent in question is super enthusiastic about my book, which is great. Doesn't charge any fees except the usual 15% for U.S. and 20% for foreign. Wants to do a light edit to clean up the grammar, which is completely fine. Has solid and legit sales all the way till 2012, but here's the thing...

P&E under agent's name has a dollar sign, but the agency is "not recommended". Here, when I do a search, this agent charged fees for submissions, but stated they do not do that anymore. Also the clients complained in the past that this agent had sent to inappropriate places. Which scares me because none of the agent's books at YA novels, and mine's a YA. It was just recently that this agent picked up the YA genre. Would they even know where to send it? What about the "not recommended" thing? Should I ask this agent about it? What would you do?

Drachen Jager
11-13-2011, 01:31 AM
You should have done your homework before submitting to them.

Do you have any other agents with fulls/partials out? If so, give them a nudge, maybe you can get an offer out of them.

Without knowing the agent in question I can't really tell you what to do. It's up to you to figure out if they just made a few mistakes starting out which have been rectified or they're just hiding their ethical problems better.

escritora
11-13-2011, 01:34 AM
PM Dave and ask for more details on the "not recommended" status.

FWIW, I took on an agent who has mixed reviews on AW. Bad mistake. I fired her within the year. I found all the comments, negative and positive, were true. But the negative outweighed the positive.

Undercover
11-13-2011, 01:38 AM
Thanks guys, I do have other agents reading it. I will in fact nudge them on it.

And yeah DJ, you're right, I should have researched better beforehand, but now I'm in this dilemma.

Thanks Escritora, good idea. Will do that too.

Pepperman
11-13-2011, 01:40 AM
I don't think it will hurt to voice your concerns. If doing so makes it a deal breaker, then it probably wasn't much of a deal to start with.

Maryn
11-13-2011, 02:02 AM
I'd be extremely leery--I mean extremely--of an agent who took on a manuscript with enthusiasm when it needed its grammar corrected. (Are you sure it does?) That suggests this agent doesn't have manuscripts in better shape being submitted.

I'd also be leery that s/he is now repping YA but doesn't seem to have any YA sales to commercial publishers. It's possible the necessary connections are not in place and s/he hopes to build them.

I second the recommendation to ask Dave (who owns P&E) for more details and to dig really deep on the sales you say you found, assuring yourself they're to houses which accept only agented submissions.

Maryn, eager to see you're treated well

KalenO
11-13-2011, 02:22 AM
I found myself in a similar position last spring - an established agent with a legitimate track record, though no sales in YA, offered me rep after seeing a partial of my YA manuscript due to a contest win. I hadn't actually queried her, and entered the contest due to the prize of a partial critique. I was genuinely interested more in feedback than a possible offer and it hadn't even really occurred to me it might result in that. She was very nice, very enthusiastic, but the lack of YA sales worried me as did her lack of edits for me - I knew in my gut the MS just wasn't ready yet and the few queries I had out with other agents seemed to confirm it so I didn't end up signing with her.

Basically, my advice is, just go with your gut. It was VERY tempting to be able to say 'I have an agent' and see what she could have done with the project - but in my gut, I knew the book wasn't ready and that any agent who thought it was wasn't going to be able push me and my career in the ways I needed to be pushed. Maybe she could have sold my MS, I have no idea, but I am sure that any sale she got me wouldn't be the best deal for me, because the book itself wasn't as good as it could have been. I suspect you already know whether you should take a chance on this agent or not.

Undercover
11-13-2011, 02:31 AM
Thanks. I'm not worried about the minor editing. I had an agent before which didn't work out so we parted ways. But when we did work together, I had to do major editing with her. Unfortunately she was in the process of retiring so she didn't want to even see my other ms.

As for this other agent, every question I ask is readily answered and in great detail too. We've been going back and forth with q&a's. I have already sent to the other agents, so I'll just have to wait and see. Thanks again for your input, Pepperman, Maryn and KalenO.

priceless1
11-13-2011, 02:52 AM
I'd be extremely leery--I mean extremely--of an agent who took on a manuscript with enthusiasm when it needed its grammar corrected.
Maryn, I'd like to bring a little bit of perspective to this. I read a manuscript a few years ago and knew it was a sure-fire winner, but ohhh, the writing was dreadful and needed a huge rewrite. If I was going to make an offer on it, I knew I'd have to hire a ghostwriter. I took a bit too long to decide and the author ended up signing with an agent friend of mine. The agent did exactly what I had intended to do, and hired a ghostwriter. The book ended up selling for over a million dollars.

Believe me, my agent bud and I were very excited about the potential for that book, but knew it needed a ton of work.

And this type of thing happens quite a bit. Frankly, I worry more when an agent doesn't put some editing input into a manuscript in order to bring the quality up a notch.

IceCreamEmpress
11-13-2011, 03:54 AM
I'd be extremely leery--I mean extremely--of an agent who took on a manuscript with enthusiasm when it needed its grammar corrected.

Maryn, that's how I make most of my living! (Editing manuscripts that agents accepted, but that weren't ready to send out to publishers until they got a pre-submission edit.)

Sage
11-13-2011, 04:01 AM
Also the clients complained in the past that this agent had sent to inappropriate places. Which scares me because none of the agent's books at YA novels, and mine's a YA. It was just recently that this agent picked up the YA genre. Would they even know where to send it?
This is the part that worries me.

But I believe that if you're not feeling good about the agent at the beginning, don't go with them.

Lineykins
11-14-2011, 07:06 AM
Perhaps do a search right here on the cooler to see what you can find?

Anaquana
11-14-2011, 08:49 PM
I'd be extremely leery--I mean extremely--of an agent who took on a manuscript with enthusiasm when it needed its grammar corrected. (Are you sure it does?) That suggests this agent doesn't have manuscripts in better shape being submitted.

Maryn, eager to see you're treated well

I disagree with Maryn on this. Even though my manuscript needed a LOT of work, my agent was extremely enthusiastic about my book. So enthusiastic that she changed her initial pass into a maybe if you do further revisions. She saw past the things that needed to be fixed to the core of the work and loved what she saw. The concept, the world, most of the characters all drew her in. In her own words she couldn't "get it out of [her] head."

Definitely do some more research into their mixed P&E rating, but don't let their enthusiasm for a flawed work stop you. :)

LaneHeymont
11-15-2011, 06:50 AM
I'd be extremely leery--I mean extremely--of an agent who took on a manuscript with enthusiasm when it needed its grammar corrected. (Are you sure it does?) That suggests this agent doesn't have manuscripts in better shape being submitted.

I have to echo the others and disagree with this. Everyone makes mistakes...even the tiniest, most minute mistake. That's why editors exist, because they know what and where to correct.

C0g
11-15-2011, 07:48 AM
Maryn, I'd like to bring a little bit of perspective to this. I read a manuscript a few years ago and knew it was a sure-fire winner, but ohhh, the writing was dreadful and needed a huge rewrite. If I was going to make an offer on it, I knew I'd have to hire a ghostwriter. I took a bit too long to decide and the author ended up signing with an agent friend of mine. The agent did exactly what I had intended to do, and hired a ghostwriter. The book ended up selling for over a million dollars.

Believe me, my agent bud and I were very excited about the potential for that book, but knew it needed a ton of work.

And this type of thing happens quite a bit. Frankly, I worry more when an agent doesn't put some editing input into a manuscript in order to bring the quality up a notch.

I don't mean to start a derail, but does this happen a lot? A book with a "sure fire" concept that is just really poorly written? I'm surprised agents would take the time to hire a ghostwriter unless they were positive the book would sell (and in your guess, I guess they were right)

zegota
11-15-2011, 09:24 PM
I don't mean to start a derail, but does this happen a lot? A book with a "sure fire" concept that is just really poorly written? I'm surprised agents would take the time to hire a ghostwriter unless they were positive the book would sell (and in your guess, I guess they were right)

I could be wrong, but it really sounds to me like that was a celebrity writer. Maybe not, but ghostwriter, "sure-fire" concept (what concept is ever sure unless you already have an audience?), million dollar sale screams "MEMOIR!" to me.

C0g
11-16-2011, 12:26 AM
I could be wrong, but it really sounds to me like that was a celebrity writer. Maybe not, but ghostwriter, "sure-fire" concept (what concept is ever sure unless you already have an audience?), million dollar sale screams "MEMOIR!" to me.

Ah, that makes sense. I assumed when a celebrity got a book deal they were paired with a ghostwriter before the manuscript was even written, but maybe that's not always the case.

shaldna
11-16-2011, 02:01 PM
I'd be extremely leery--I mean extremely--of an agent who took on a manuscript with enthusiasm when it needed its grammar corrected. (Are you sure it does?) That suggests this agent doesn't have manuscripts in better shape being submitted.

Really?

I mean, I can understand if the MS has absolutely awful grammar, but if it's just the occassional mistake then perhaps the story and the general writing are what the agent loves and can see the potential?

I guess it depends on how bad it is.


To the OP - Check the agent out, look at what sales they have made in the last year and who to and, where you can, for how much. This will give you an indication of how the agent is doing, who they work with and what you can expect as a client.

I would also check them out with P&E and also on their threads here, you can ask for updated info of anyone who's dealt with them too.




I'd also be leery that s/he is now repping YA but doesn't seem to have any YA sales to commercial publishers. It's possible the necessary connections are not in place and s/he hopes to build them.

This would concern me.

Some agents do branch out into new genres, but usually they do it with existing clients who have the fanbase and the credibility. Taking on a new client in a new genre is risky.

shaldna
11-16-2011, 02:05 PM
I don't mean to start a derail, but does this happen a lot? A book with a "sure fire" concept that is just really poorly written?

My hubby has one sitting on his desk at the minute that he was sent a while back. It's a non-fic and the idea is AMAZING, with pretty much a built in readership and could do brilliantly.

BUT, and it's a pretty big but, the writing is awful.

So what to do? Spend the time to work closely on it, and risk loosing out on another book that doesn't need so much work, or let it go only to have another publisher take it up and work with the writer.

It's a tough decision. Which is why it's still sitting on hubby's desk.

Filigree
11-16-2011, 06:24 PM
In this market, if an agent who formerly didn't rep YA was suddenly doing just that, I'd really want to know about their contacts before I signed with them. This sounds too much like someone hopping on a bandwagon.

As for high-concept books that need massive editing, I'm certain it happens. I know scientists and engineers who have great ideas, but terrible presentation skills. Personally, I'm somewhat bitter over the fact that celebrities have a far lower standard than 'ordinary' writers, when it comes to craptastic writing. But it all comes down to the potential profit, so I can see the agent's point of view.

Barbara R.
11-16-2011, 06:42 PM
I don't mean to start a derail, but does this happen a lot? A book with a "sure fire" concept that is just really poorly written? I'm surprised agents would take the time to hire a ghostwriter unless they were positive the book would sell (and in your guess, I guess they were right)

It happened to a student of mine. When I first saw her novel, I told my husband that from a technical (grammar , punctuation, spelling) perspective, it read as if the author grew up in a swamp; but it also shone with originality and characters who jumped off the pages. It's an unusual combination, someone who can really write yet hasn't mastered the mechanicals, but it does happen. That student had the gumption and determination to clean up her writing; and right now a bound galley of her forthcoming book from a big-six publisher is sitting on my desk.

Susan Littlefield
11-16-2011, 07:45 PM
It happened to a student of mine. When I first saw her novel, I told my husband that from a technical (grammar , punctuation, spelling) perspective, it read as if the author grew up in a swamp; but it also shone with originality and characters who jumped off the pages. It's an unusual combination, someone who can really write yet hasn't mastered the mechanicals, but it does happen. That student had the gumption and determination to clean up her writing; and right now a bound galley of her forthcoming book from a big-six publisher is sitting on my desk.

Barbara, that is a wonderful success story of someone being great at one thing and working hard to master the lesser skill.

Barbara R.
11-17-2011, 01:11 AM
Barbara, that is a wonderful success story of someone being great at one thing and working hard to master the lesser skill.

Susan,

Thank you. It was unusual for sure. But she had a real story-teller's voice, and only needed the tools to go with it. She also had enormous perseverance, both in writing the book in many iterations and then in seeking publication even after multiple near misses. This was no accident. When pub time comes around, I'll be back to tell her story.

Undercover
11-22-2011, 04:37 PM
Thank you everyone for responding. Since the original offer, I nudged the other agents that were interested, 2 with partials and two with fulls. One out of the four in question never responded. But the other 3 did. I am elated to mention that I received another offer. There's no doubt that I am going with the second one, if I don't get any other offers to deliberate on, that is...but...here's the thing...

I still have two others that quickly moved their partials to fulls when told about the org. offer. I should hear from one of them by tomorrow. The other, I am not sure of. One of these pending submissions is from an oustanding agent, from a very reputable agency, with "recommended" on p & e and a dollar sign. They have a wide range of books, including YA, which is my genre. If they offer too, I don't know what to do.

The other agent that made the second offer is really good too. On the p & e it just says "literary agency", no dollar sign or any recommendation. But they only deal with major publishers and have a high rejection rate, with only a small group of clients. They also have a great amount of solid books and deals going from top publishers. But the agent seems cold. She only said she "liked" the book. Also said it needs light editing, but if I haven't taken the other offer, she wants to rep it. Plus she sat on my ms. for 2 months until I got an offer. And she's somewhat hard to get a hold of. Don't get me wrong, she responds eventually...just seems like days or even a week or two later.

She mentioned she will send out my contract to me after the holiday, so I am concerned about that too. That could mean weeks later. Or worse, she could possibly change her mind, right? I mean, nothing is written in stone just yet.

I mean, what if I get another offer and turn them all down to wait for her and something bad happens and I burn all my bridges? What then? How do I handle telling the other agent of my decline? And say I do get another offer from that other really good one, how then do I decide?

It really sucks that the holiday is in the middle of all this too.

rainsmom
11-22-2011, 06:29 PM
First, did you talk to these agents or just research them? Researching them doesn't tell you if they share your vision for the book, are the type of agent you want, or have a style of communication that works for you.

If the agent you choose says she will send the contract after the holidays, don't sweat it. Nothing happens quickly in publishing. She's not going to change her mind unless you do something weird or flake out. She wouldn't get very far in business if she were capricious.

Finally, once you've made your decision, just e-mail the others, thank them for their time, and say that you've chosen to go with a different agent. Wish them good luck in 2012 and MEAN it. That's not burning bridges. If something does happen with the other agent, you simply write back, remind them who you are, and explain that things didn't work out with the other agent.

ink wench
11-22-2011, 06:50 PM
I'm mostly repeating rainsmom, but hey - multiple sources are good! (I'm a researcher. :))

Have you talked to either of the agents who have offered yet? Really, don't make any decisions until you do. An agent's sales history is important, but so are many other things like enthusiasm, communication preferences, submission ideas, interest in future books, etc. If you haven't done so already, I'm sure there's a list of useful questions to ask someone around this site, and I know several agents have addressed the topic on their blogs.

P&E and is a good resource, but it's not the only one. I wouldn't necessarily sweat it. PM is also useful for checking sales, but doesn't always give the whole picture. Also, I wouldn't hold a 2-month delay on your full against any agent. Some agents move faster than others. Sometimes speed signifies enthusiasm; sometimes it doesn't. In general, glaciers move faster than publishing. This doesn't change when you sign with someone, although you should take priority over non-clients. ;)

For the agent(s) you don't choose, just send a polite email thanking them for their interest and letting them know you made a difficult decision. (If you've done your research before querying, it should be somewhat difficult.) Agents know that this is part of the business. Most will wish you well. The ones who don't, well, that's good to know for the future because those aren't people you'd want to work with anyway.

Good luck! You're in a good spot.

strandedhero
12-06-2011, 09:29 AM
Well... better too many agent offers than none at all! I'm sure this is a problem many would love to have. Curious to know which you ended up going with? I'd definitely try to go with somebody who is familiar with your genre, that'll help in preparing your book for submission as well I'd think.