PDA

View Full Version : Curious about non-U.S. agents



tylerjfrancke
04-15-2013, 11:47 PM
There are a handful of literary agents in the United Kingdom and Canada that I found on QueryTracker and who seem to fit my genre. I'm interested in querying them, but I didn't know if that's a good idea or if there's anything to be aware of/look for in agents who are based outside the States. Freely admitting my ignorance here on how the publishing biz works, so any words of wisdom would be much appreciated. Thanks!

Old Hack
04-16-2013, 01:17 AM
Hello, Tyler. I've merged your two threads into one and deleted your second comment, as we prefer you to not start duplicate threads.

You're able to query agents anywhere you want to: but bear in mind that you pay an increased commission to your agent on foreign sales. If you're based in the US an agent who is also based there might well be better, unless you're happy to pay that higher commission on a significant portion of your sales.

Barbara R.
04-16-2013, 01:28 AM
The U.S. is the primary market and I gather also your home country, so I'd recommend sticking to U.S. agents. As Old Hack pointed out, you'll pay a larger commission if a foreign agent sells rights to an American publisher. More importantly, that agent is less likely to sell the rights here, because their expertise and connections are in their home countries.

tylerjfrancke
04-16-2013, 03:29 AM
OK, I suspected as much, but this is very helpful. Thank you both for your thoughts. And Old Hack, sorry about the duplicate messages! Still getting the hang of the forum, and I wasn't entirely sure which section would be most appropriate for the question. Thanks again!

waylander
04-16-2013, 10:50 AM
Another question to consider is whether your novel will work in the market that the non-US agent sells to. There are some significant differences between the US market and the UK market for example.

MandyHubbard
04-16-2013, 10:07 PM
You're able to query agents anywhere you want to: but bear in mind that you pay an increased commission to your agent on foreign sales. If you're based in the US an agent who is also based there might well be better, unless you're happy to pay that higher commission on a significant portion of your sales.

This isn't neccessarily true. In fact the Canadian/Uk agents I know of do not use a higher commision for US sales. Many UK agents treat the US market as the primary market, selling US rights first.

The higher commission is for subsidiary sales, most often in cases where a subagent is used. (The increased commision is to cover said subagent.). I dont know UK agents who focus on selling to the UK and then use a subagent for US sales. (or just sell US as a secondary right.).

I would be fine querying UK or canadian agents, provided they have a history of selling books to reputable US publishers.

Old Hack
04-17-2013, 12:35 AM
This isn't neccessarily true. In fact the Canadian/Uk agents I know of do not use a higher commision for US sales. Many UK agents treat the US market as the primary market, selling US rights first.

I don't think I know any UK agents who don't charge a higher commission for US sales; and I'm not convinced that the majority of UK agents treat the US as their author-clients' primary market.


The higher commission is for subsidiary sales, most often in cases where a subagent is used. (The increased commision is to cover said subagent.). I dont know UK agents who focus on selling to the UK and then use a subagent for US sales. (or just sell US as a secondary right.).

Subsidiary sales include things like audio books and large print editions, which are not necessarily foreign rights sales, and do not attract a higher commission.

I know quite a few UK agents who focus on selling to the UK first, and use co-agents for the US and many other territories.


I would be fine querying UK or canadian agents, provided they have a history of selling books to reputable US publishers.

You seem to be implying that UK agents which have only sold their clients' books in their home territory aren't worth bothering about, or that the US is the only market which counts.

I'm hoping I've interpreted this inaccurately.

MandyHubbard
04-17-2013, 02:25 AM
Hmm, you know, now that I'm thinking more on it, I'm thinking of UK agents who are part of a larger agency which also has US offices, not agents who work for UK-Only agencies. So you're likely correct if you mean UK-only agents, they may be charging higher commissions on US sales as compared to the agencies I'm thinking of/agents I'm friends with.

On my comment of subsidiary sales, I didn't mean audio, large print, etc. I meant subsidiary book sales, as in foreign/translation, which is why I said subsidiary sales, not subsidiary rights. But I realize I wasn't 100% clear-- I was using the word subsidiary where it probably muddied the water. FWIW, some subsidiary rights, such as film, do still have higher comissions, so it's not just foreign. (I'm sure you know that, but for anyone else reading, there it is.)

I'm not meaning to imply that the UK market /agents that have only sold into the UK market doesn't matter or are less than. Only that the initial poster sounds as if s/he lives in USA and is initially thinking about the US market. If My goal was the US market, I would want an agent with US sales. And as great as the UK market may be, the US market is simply larger.

*shrug* I've represented both Canadian and Uk authors (not to mention the client in Abu Dhabi). My UK author, I sold into the US first in a six figure pre-empt, and then my subagent sold her into the UK. Commissions-wise, it certainly worked in her favor to have the main agency be in the US. (Which I think was your point as well.)

Old Hack
04-17-2013, 10:25 AM
Yes, Mandy, that was definitely my point, although reading back I don't think I made it as clearly as I should have.

The matter of foreign vs subsidiary rights is a sticky one too, as the terms are often used interchangeably. And it's difficult to separate them: for example, are the large print editions of a book in a foreign territory foreign or a subsidiary rights? I'm not sure.

Barbara R.
04-17-2013, 04:18 PM
Yes, Mandy, that was definitely my point, although reading back I don't think I made it as clearly as I should have.

The matter of foreign vs subsidiary rights is a sticky one too, as the terms are often used interchangeably. And it's difficult to separate them: for example, are the large print editions of a book in a foreign territory foreign or a subsidiary rights? I'm not sure.

Foreign rights are one category of subsidiary rights. A sub rights manager would be in charge of foreign rights but also serial rights, audio book rights, film and performance rights, and whatever other rights the publisher or agent controls.