View Full Version : What to look for in an agent? questions?

07-27-2014, 08:54 PM
Hey all, when you are deciding on which agents to query or which agent to work with (hypothetically - if you are lucky enough to have multiple interested agents)... What is most important to you?

Film right experience?

Foreign rights experience?

or just a passion for your story?

Hypothetically, if lets say, you want the book to be made into film or television and your agent doesn't have the a-list of film right deals under their belt, would you have to find another agent who specializes in film rights?

07-27-2014, 09:34 PM
I'd look for a broad range of skills and industry contacts, demonstrated by proven sales. Film and foreign rights are a good firsthand skill, but not every great agent knows every market. I'd be happy if they have strong reciprocal ties to other great foreign and film rights agents.

Passion for my work is a huge plus, but it has to be matched by skill and experience.

Added for clarity: film and TV adaptations are a whole other world. You need an agent who is blunt and honest enough to verify whether your work is ready and/or suited to those venues - no matter how you feel about it. If the answer is 'yes, this needs to be filmed!' then they'll need vast networking skills, great contacts in the industry, and those proven sales (not just options).

07-27-2014, 09:36 PM
For me, it's always about track record. Who the agent has for clients, what she's sold, and who she sold it to."

Siri Kirpal
07-27-2014, 09:45 PM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Film rights and foreign sales can be contracted out; enthusiasm can't. Neither can expertise or integrity or a vision of the book that sits well with you.

I'd go with what can't be delegated to someone else.


Siri Kirpal

Karen Junker
07-27-2014, 10:09 PM
I run or have helped run events for writers and have worked with quite a few agents in that capacity -- and I have kept track of some of the authors who signed with those agents, following their careers.

Be careful. I have met some agents who claim to have big industry connections in Hollywood and they are sometimes flat out lying. In my (somewhat limited) experience, it has not been the agents with large and well-known agencies who do this, but the new or boutique agents.

Best of luck!

Laer Carroll
07-28-2014, 12:13 AM
Erh, you might have more luck in the forum dedicated to agents. Some hang out there, for one thing. Are you new to AW?

Ask the Agent is at http://absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=58

07-28-2014, 12:19 AM
One that will say 'yes.' :tongue

Seriously though, when I made my list I first looked for anyone looking for unsolicited MSS. Then I ranked them dependent on:

(1) Do they deal particularly with HF?
(2) Do they represent anyone in my genre/ names I recognise and respect?
(3) Do they indicate any preferences to new authors?

07-28-2014, 12:27 AM
First and foremost is an agent who can work with me, fits my personality and understands my goals and motivations. Second is experience. Agents who have sold in my genre recently, have good sales records and have a depth of industry contacts. Almost all else is gravy.

If I don't like them and can't work with them then the rest is a waste of time.


07-28-2014, 12:30 AM
For me, it's always about track record. Who the agent has for clients, what she's sold, and who she sold it to."

This. Who the book sold to is a huge importance for me. If the agent has no sales, or sales from places I can already submit to, I pass on. The agent and or agency has to be reputable first and foremost, otherwise all you'll be thinking about is how to get out of the contract.