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View Full Version : Query a senior agent, get a response from a junior



bookishjen
08-03-2013, 07:57 AM
Hello, I had an odd experience this week and wanted to see if anyone had thoughts. I'm new to AW, so if this post is in the wrong place, please let me know.

I received two requests for my manuscript this week, and in both instances I queried one agent but heard back from another. Neither request made mention of the (dream) agent I queried. In both instances the requesting agents are new -- one has been active for six months and the other is an assistant that I assume is an agent-to-be.

It's an interesting purgatory between request and rejection, and I am not quite sure what I should make of it. I've received other requests from established agents -- would there ever be a reason to go with a new agent at a good agency as opposed to an established agent at a (different) good agency? Does the referral to the new agent by the dream agent count for anything other than the fact they obviously would prefer not to take on my book? :)

Any input would be really appreciated! Thank you!

frankiebrown
08-03-2013, 08:31 AM
I've gotten several requests from assistants and junior agents. I don't think it's anything to be turned off about. As a matter of fact, many slush piles are managed by unpaid interns. Unless the request letter specifically says it's a referral, and not a request by the junior agent on behalf of the senior one, I wouldn't be worried.

bookishjen
08-03-2013, 09:41 AM
I've gotten several requests from assistants and junior agents. I don't think it's anything to be turned off about. As a matter of fact, many slush piles are managed by unpaid interns. Unless the request letter specifically says it's a referral, and not a request by the junior agent on behalf of the senior one, I wouldn't be worried.

That's really interesting, frankiebrown. The letters do not mention a referral but both say "I'd be happy to read your manuscript" without a word about the senior agent. Have you ever received a request like that? I am used to seeing either seeing "we" or "she/he," and for some reason the "I" struck me as something different.

I'm obviously new to this, I am really appreciative of your insight. :)

waylander
08-03-2013, 02:20 PM
Just means the junior agent is being mentored by the senior agent you queried.
Junior agents can be a good bet because they are actively building their list while the senior agent's list is mature and they don't need to add any clients.

folkchick
08-03-2013, 04:32 PM
Something like this happened to me. I sent a query to a senior agent and received a request for full from a junior agent in the company. Sent her the full and months later received a very nice reply (albeit, rejection) from the senior agent who loved the book but felt the ending was rushed. So I guess these things do happen and it isn't necessarily a bad thing (except when you get rejected).

Jennifer_Laughran
08-03-2013, 06:06 PM
It either means the junior is managing the senior's slush and requesting the good stuff, or that the senior passed it along to the junior.

Either way, the fact is, you're getting read by somebody, and perhaps more than one somebody, at the agency. Which isn't anything like a "purgatory between request and rejection" ... it is a request, and not a rejection at all.

What it isn't, though, is an offer of representation. So I'd save your concern for when you actually get one (or more) -- whoever the agent(s) actually offering, you'll have the opportunity to interview them and go from there.

(And yes: Senior agents have more experience but are often extremely busy with tons of high-profile clients that eat up a lot of time - Junior agents are often actively building and able to spend more time nurturing newbies, and have senior as mentor.)

Undercover
08-03-2013, 06:32 PM
I think getting requests from an assistant agent, or junior agent is a good thing. As long as they check out okay, they might even be better and more aggressive about sending your work out.

They even mention it on the Guide to Literary Agents:

"New literary agents are golden opportunities for new writers because each one is a literary agent who is likely building his or her client list."

Axordil
08-03-2013, 06:47 PM
Subs get passed around at some agencies, whether because one agent thinks another might be a better fit or because newer agents are building client lists or both. This is not only normal but desirable if it leads to the right person representing your work. If it leads to a rejection from everyone there, it's somewhat less desirable, obviously.

bookishjen
08-03-2013, 08:44 PM
Something like this happened to me. I sent a query to a senior agent and received a request for full from a junior agent in the company. Sent her the full and months later received a very nice reply (albeit, rejection) from the senior agent who loved the book but felt the ending was rushed. So I guess these things do happen and it isn't necessarily a bad thing (except when you get rejected).

This is so helpful, folkchick. All I really wanted to know was who was considering my work for representation.

And thank you, Undercover. I do see the real virtues in having a junior agent over one who is more senior, and you've reminded me that the same is true of a lot of of other professions, including my own. I'm a lawyer, and I know I hustle for all of my clients much more than older lawyers who have been in it for thirty years and have so many clients that they are forced to prioritize. I also might have a little more energy. :)

The only real downside I can see in working with someone really junior is that they may soon realize that it's not what they really want to do.

Jennifer_Laughran, when I said a "purgatory between request and rejection" I was referring to the response by the specific agent I queried. As I mentioned, I am new to all of this. I assumed that each agent operates as a separate entity -- I thought this was why people sometimes query more than one agent at an agency. Obviously, I'm wrong. But yes, what matters in the end is finding the right match for your work and getting an offer at all.

Axordil
08-04-2013, 06:34 AM
I assumed that each agent operates as a separate entity -- I thought this was why people sometimes query more than one agent at an agency. Obviously, I'm wrong.

Not always. Some agencies are very closer to a collection of separate entities than others...though they still converse, obviously. That's why some agencies are "no from one is no from all" and some you can query each agent in turn. Check their entries on QueryTracker or Writers Market and/or their websites to be sure.

bookishjen
08-04-2013, 07:03 AM
Not always. Some agencies are very closer to a collection of separate entities than others...though they still converse, obviously. That's why some agencies are "no from one is no from all" and some you can query each agent in turn. Check their entries on QueryTracker or Writers Market and/or their websites to be sure.

This is really helpful, Axordil. I had assumed they were all the same, and in thinking about it, I'm not really sure why. :)

J.Reid
08-06-2013, 06:53 AM
I always laugh when someone complains they've heard from one of my minions rather than me (not that you were complaining bookishjen!) My minions are routinely faster, more eager, nicer and have more time to develop projects than I do. I want to write back and say "If I'm your dream agent, you need higher goals."

OctoberLee
08-07-2013, 07:56 AM
Yeah all of the above. Twice I've gotten (same day!) requests from junior agents when querying their more senior counterparts. The big names are busy. If it's a good agency I would still be excited to receive a response from a junior agent.

Matt Walker
08-07-2013, 11:30 AM
I too had a full request from an intern, who then discussed the manuscript with the 'proper' agent (before rejecting it). I think it's usual practise, having readers and interns tackle the slush pile to cut out the inevitable crap.