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The_Burning_Quill
04-04-2013, 09:17 AM
Hello,

Apologies if this has been covered elsewhere, I have made an effort to see if this has already been answered but haven't exactly found the answer.

What is the general opinion here about submitting to 'up and coming' agents who are in a reputable agency but have few or no sales to their name?

I've seen a couple of excellent sounding people who work for premier agencies who have only just been promoted but..... they know nothing and no-one right?

I am conflicted about it. On the one hand I really like the idea of someone with lots of energy and hunger fighting to get your book published; someone who is not ground down by the industry and that you can establish a long career with. On the other hand you sort of want the wily old fox who can sell your book during a lunch with an editor they have known for decades.

Anyway, I know nothing other than how to get rejected by all the experienced agents I have queried, but I wanted to know if anyone here had an opinion?

Mr. Anonymous
04-04-2013, 09:33 AM
If I had a choice between the two, I would pretty much always pick the experienced agent over the new one.

However, that's not to say that a new agent can't get you published, or that a new agent doesn't have connections. Most agents start off as assistants and interns, go through period of apprenticeship during which they learn the trade and make contacts. Furthermore, if an agent is just starting out, the other agents at the agency will probably be keen on helping him/her out, if they can. And of course, the obvious point--all established/legendary/experienced agents started out as new agents at one time. And you're right--if you're one of his first clients, he'll probably be more invested in you, less likely to give up/drop you if your novel turns out not to be a quick sale.

The downsides are obvious though--a new agent is less committed. A year later, he might decide agenting is not for him. And, even with help, he probably won't have the kinds of connections that a more established agent might have.

IMO though, worry about this once you have an offer of representation from a new agent. Preemptive worrying is just a waste of energy (and query experienced agents first).

The_Burning_Quill
04-04-2013, 09:40 AM
Preemptive worrying is just a waste of energy (and query experienced agents first).

This is the curse of my life.

Thanks for your insight, it is pretty much what I was thinking.

It is just a failure of patience and the fact that a couple of the new-fish seem to be so right for the novel.

Putputt
04-04-2013, 10:35 AM
I wouldn't say they know nothing and no one. After all, if they've been promoted within a reputable agency, the assumption is they do know the industry, at least well enough to deserve the promotion.

For myself, I wouldn't go for an agent who has zero sales, but I wouldn't mind going for an agent who has a modest number of sales in my genre.

EMaree
04-04-2013, 02:23 PM
I'm currently with a new agent with a small number of sales. Before signing I made sure I had proof of some sales record for her, and she happily provided both that and evidence of strong contacts in the industry.

She also gave me very detailed comments on what she'd like me to revise, and confirmed I was comfortable doing them before offering to sign me. I went with my gut and signed. I've got no regrets so far, heh. :)

Be cautious (and make sure they're legit!) and you should be fine.


I've seen a couple of excellent sounding people who work for premier agencies who have only just been promoted but..... they know nothing and no-one right?Newly promoted agents at big agencies usually have experience working under one of the existing agents, and they have their colleagues to lean on. So I wouldn't worry too much about that.

waylander
04-04-2013, 03:28 PM
Newly appointed agents who are growing their list aggressively are far likely to take on writers than established agents who have no need to take on new blood.

Cathy C
04-04-2013, 03:53 PM
Keep in mind that "new agents" in established firms aren't just hired off the street or recruited out of college or such. They're normally promoted from within after having served as someone's assistant for a year or more.

Why does that matter? Think about it: they've made the calls for the senior agent, corresponded with any number of editors, art departments , authors, and booksellers on day-to-day business, read slush and gave reports on marketability and what house might be interested in the ms., etc., etc. In short, they've got plenty of experience and contacts who know their name (including those former editorial assistants who are now full acquiring editors!) They just need to build their list. :)

I know of at least two of my agent's assistants who have moved up to having their own list at the same or different agencies. It's just part of how the business works.

Give the new agents a chance. Remember that in a large agency, they're being closely watched to ensure they're keeping up the standards of the agency. The ones that succeed go on to bigger things, and you go along for the ride. The ones that don't usually have their clients reassigned to a different agent in the firm.

In other words, it's all good. :)

Susan Littlefield
04-04-2013, 06:29 PM
I would query a new agent.

ETA: new agent with an established agency, not a solo new agent. :)

Siri Kirpal
04-04-2013, 09:55 PM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

A new agent at a larger agency should do just fine. I wouldn't go with one who's starting solo from scratch.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

MandyHubbard
04-04-2013, 10:33 PM
I am not sure if I fall under new or experienced-- I'm now 3 years in, with a fifteen sales, almost all to big six, and several of those sales are six figure.

That said, i still feel new. I'm certainly not a veteran.

A new agent, if s/he is agressive and knows enough, can get those connectsions very quickly through lots of emailing, phone calls, and in-person meetings. The only thing an agent can do is get you READ, not force a sale, so as long as the new agent can get you rwork to the right editors, he or she is almost as good as a vet (a vet might get you read faster, or they might have such a reputation of selling 'big" books that the advance may be artificially larger, although that's uncommon)...

I think the biggest concern is what Anon hits on above-- whether they're in it for the long haul. I've seen a lot of agents who had no publishing background get internships out of college, mostly due to serendipity/stumbling into it, not becuase they searched out lit agencies, and 6 months later they are agents, and then 12 months after that, they leave agenting. It's NOT a business to do if you want to get rich, it has to be a passion,and you gotta be willing to work for free or cheap for a LONG time.

I have no qualms about a committed newer agent who has the support of an established agency.

I would NEVER query an agent who hangs up a shingle and opens her own agency without having prior experience.

Old Hack
04-04-2013, 11:54 PM
I have no qualms about a committed newer agent who has the support of an established agency.

I would NEVER query an agent who hangs up a shingle and opens her own agency without having prior experience.

Yep.

Ken
04-05-2013, 12:09 AM
... if the agent is with a good agency and they rep my genre then yes, I'd query. But Anonymous' point still applies. "New agents can up and quit." It happens. You look for them a year after first happening upon them and they've disappeared without a trace :-(

It would be interesting to know what the turnaround rate is with new agents.
I guess it's a difficult field to begin with. You really have to be pretty good to make it.

The_Burning_Quill
04-05-2013, 02:56 PM
Thank you to everyone for lots of good advice. It is amazing how helpful everyone is on these boards, which makes a big difference when doing something as fraught as querying.

I've fired my query off to the new agent I had been thinking about and hope it does better than the query that Mandy slapped down a few days ago ;-)

MandyHubbard
04-05-2013, 06:42 PM
It would be interesting to know what the turnaround rate is with new agents.
I guess it's a difficult field to begin with. You really have to be pretty good to make it.

I run a google group for new agents (4 yrs or less as an agent), and they have to be agents who joined established, reputable agencies. It's around 45-50 members, and since starting it a little over a year ago, I've had to delete 5 or 6 who left the business.

So my guess is 10% based on my little test pool, but it's probably higher overall.

Ken
04-06-2013, 05:05 PM
So my guess is 10% based on my little test pool, but it's probably higher overall.

... thnx for the info. I would've actually guessed higher. Substantially so.

10% or even 20% isn't really that high compared to other fields.
With professions like teaching it's something like 80% !

One less reservation for querying a new agent.
Overall, it seems like a good bet.

Debbie V
04-09-2013, 03:13 AM
Some folks who become new agents are former editors, sometimes very successful editors. They may not have sales, but they do have contacts. They also understand the process and the commitment they are making to the authors.

WeaselFire
04-09-2013, 08:56 PM
If the choice is inexperienced or experienced, go for experienced. If the choice is inexperienced or none, go for inexperienced. If you have several inexperienced agents interested, compare agencies.

Jeff

Corinne Duyvis
04-11-2013, 03:41 PM
If the choice is inexperienced or experienced, go for experienced. If the choice is inexperienced or none, go for inexperienced. If you have several inexperienced agents interested, compare agencies.

Not necessarily. It's better to have no agent than a bad one. Sometimes you're better off hanging in there for a better offer.

Inexperienced agents are a risk. They can be fantastic--I have friends who are newer agents, as well as friends who've signed with newer agents, so I'd never write them off immediately.

However, I've also seen people who signed with newer agents crash and burn. Even with an established agency. I've seen an incredible amount of new agents up and leave over the years, or end up screwing over their clients, or not knowing as many editors as they claimed they did, or barely selling anything, or never getting back to their clients, or getting in over their heads, or or or...

Just know what you're getting into. Weigh the pros of "fresh-faced! lots of time! excited! extra motivated to make sales!" with the potential cons.

(In this case, I'm qualifying newer agent as "has been an agent for under 18 months and has few or no sales" since that's usually who people are talking about in these discussions.)