View Full Version : Published w/o an Agent, but Still WANT One...

08-01-2013, 06:48 PM
Newbie in a rather weird situation here. Any suggestions you've got would be helpful:

1) I've published one nonfiction book and have a second coming out from the same publisher in 2014.

2) Both sales were made without an agent--just me and the publisher.

3) Between those two publications, I have finished three other books--a children's chapter book and two novels, one of which might be considered YA (and the first of a trilogy), one definitely adult.

4) In order to sell the fiction manuscripts, I suspect I'll need an agent--or possibly more than one agent.

Basically, then, I'm trying to figure how a writer of, um, eclectic habits can best find good representation. I can of course simply assemble a list of agents from some of the resources listed/linked on AW (and MAN does this place have some resources...), but I'm wondering if there's a better way to go through the process.

One big question: if I've sold NF book #2 already, would there be any sense in asking an agent to represent me/it? Even if the other books I've finished aren't NF titles?

As I said, any suggestions you've got would be greatly appreciated.

08-01-2013, 07:03 PM
The books you have published already or have contracts with, you won't be able to get representation for. That's from what I know, but I could be wrong, but I've never read a case where authors got representation for a book that's already been contracted. The stuff you have that's NOT contracted, yes, of course you can seek an agent for. But I must say, there's no easy way of doing it other then researching these places yourself. Only you know what would be the best fit for your book.

Good luck to you!

08-01-2013, 07:14 PM
I have a similar issue. I have published several non-fiction technical books (and may likely do more) without an agent. I'm working on a fiction piece (with series potential!) now and will be querying in a few months. My queries will be standard, but the non-fiction really doesn't hold much weight in the deal. It does show I can work with editors and complete a manuscript under deadline, but no real indication of talent or appeal in the fiction world.

So I need to write an awesome query letter, wow the agent(s) with samples and the full, and be professional with them during the bidding war that I just KNOW will ensue... :)


08-01-2013, 07:46 PM
I need to write an awesome query letter, wow the agent(s) with samples and the full, and be professional with them during the bidding war that I just KNOW will ensue... :)

I like this plan.

08-01-2013, 07:51 PM
I'd disagree with the PP who said an agent won't represent your previous work. You'd have to agree to a fee structure with them but since those projects are un-agented (rather than represented by someone else), it's very possible--likely, even--that an agent that wants to represent you would also handle any matters that might arise concerning your existing work. (It might mean getting your publisher to amend your contract terms to include the agent, but that shouldn't be a big deal.) I always needed an agent more after the contract was signed than to actually get a contract. It would be to your advantage to have an agent handling everything.

It is a tricky situation when you want to write across genres. There's a tendency in the industry to pigeon-hole people. If that's what publishers want (someone who can consistently deliver in their initial category), then that's what agents will offer. There are ways around it (pseudonyms, etc) and some agents who will take on a prolific client who doesn't write in just one category.

I'd suggest looking at who represents other authors who write across the lines. If possible, see if they'll be at a conference where you can meet them in person. When you have the chance to meet face to face, I think you can make an impression that can get an agent to take on a bigger challenge than s/he might want to when simply looking at it on paper.

My current agent wasn't going to work in the Children's publishing space and we talked about me seeking out a children's lit agent (all my other books have been adult non-fiction). Before I submitted to a specific agent I gave him one more shot to work with me on it. He agreed and within a few months got a contract. He's not out seeking other children's authors, but I'm glad that I have one agent for everything I do. I am using a pen-name for the children's book because it's so far outside my norm, but I think having met my agent, had several lengthy conversations so he got a real feel for me and my work, helped a lot in his willingness to work in multiple areas with me.

08-01-2013, 08:00 PM
That's helpful, CAWriter. I actually showed an early version of the most recent NF book to one agent who didn't bite, but who made some extremely helpful suggestions, one of which really transformed the book.

You make me wonder if he might be interested in repping me on the back end of this deal, with other books in the offing. (He works in NF and speculative fiction both, so he might be a very good candidate.)

Might be worth dropping him a line...


08-01-2013, 08:11 PM
It might be easier to get him to bite now that you've gotten a deal on that project (and its follow-up). Having gotten publisher attention is a great way to get an agent's attention. Good luck!

08-01-2013, 09:32 PM
OK, message away to previous agent... fingers crossed. Updates as warranted.

08-02-2013, 07:24 PM
Well, we're back in touch. I gave him a semi-pitch and we'll see if he wants a look at the full query for the novel.

Susan Littlefield
08-02-2013, 11:45 PM

Good job! I was going to say to check with the agent for you NF. Even if he doesn't bite, he might suggest somebody.

You can find agents at www.agentquery.com. The search function works great there.

Waiting to hear more..... :)

08-03-2013, 12:17 AM
Got a no thanks from the previous agent--unsurprising, but it feels good to have tested the water, at least.

I've got a few names from agentquery.com already and should be sending some stuff out next week.

08-07-2013, 06:32 PM
Trying to get queries out today. Fingers crossed.

08-10-2013, 12:10 AM
The miracle of the modern age: I sent a one-page query letter yesterday afternoon, and this afternoon I have... a rejection.

Better than being on tenterhooks for weeks, I guess.