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View Full Version : Getting an agent when you're already published



JackSoren
10-05-2015, 08:36 PM
Okay, here's the scenario: About a year ago, I signed a deal (without an agent) with a traditional publishing house (rhymes with CarperHollins) for two books (thriller series) and first refusal on a third. I've delivered the first two books (the first was released last December and the second drops November 3rd). The first book has been nominated for two awards and is still selling well. Both books have sold some foreign rights (Japanese edition of the first book just came out and German comes out in December). I'm working on the third book now, but here's my question:

When should I approach an agent? And with what?

Thanks in advance for taking the time to read this.

Jack

Thedrellum
10-05-2015, 08:56 PM
Now?

I'd approach an agent now.

Do you have a proposal for your third book ready, or is it finished? If so, I'd suggest using that for the agent search.

As far as I understand it, the right of first refusal will give any prospective agent who is interested a chance to renegotiate on your behalf (and theirs).

Jamesaritchie
10-06-2015, 12:23 AM
The best time is already past. When you find a publisher on your own, the best time is after the publisher says yes, and before you actually sign a contract.

At this point, it's as soon as possible.

Cyia
10-06-2015, 12:28 AM
At this point, you don't have anything for an agent to sell, and you won't until that 3rd book is finished and edited. When it's done, you send your queries, being sure to point out the deal you made.

Debeucci
10-11-2015, 05:32 AM
Technically, you do not have to finish the 3rd book before you go on submission. With two books under your belt and decent sales, you should be able to submit on a partial. First refusals are just that. Both parties can refuse the terms.

But yes, get an agent now.

MandyHubbard
10-14-2015, 11:43 PM
At this point, you don't have anything for an agent to sell, and you won't until that 3rd book is finished and edited. When it's done, you send your queries, being sure to point out the deal you made.

That's not true at all-- his deal was for two books. An agent can make the sale for book 3.

I sign authors all the time in order to represent their option book (and beyond). Given that you negotiated the first deal yourself (unless I'm just assuming that and you had a good publishing contract person go over it) I bet that you have their cruddy stock option language (must write the full manuscript, long review time, tied to publication of the second book) but you might get your editor to read sooner.

Therefore, query a handful of agents with your third book ready in whatever form it must be for your option (proposal or full manuscript), letting them know it is your option book for HC and you'd like representation for this book and beyond.

Agents often like option books, especially if your first books sold well, because they can be quick sales. But choose an agent who actually reads it and loves it, so they can represent books beyond that book too.

MandyHubbard
10-14-2015, 11:44 PM
Also please please tell me your option clause does not say that they get to buy your next book "on the same terms."

JackSoren
10-15-2015, 06:40 AM
Hi, Mandy. No, it doesn't say that. The option is for a "detailed proposal". They have 30 days upon receipt to "advise Author whether it wishes to publish it and upon what financial terms". It later says if they want it but 30 days pass without us coming to a financial agreement, I can offer it elsewhere "without further obligation to Publisher".

The communication and turn-around times from my editor have been pretty amazing. (She even bought me dinner in NYC at ThrillerFest in July!) ;)

While the contract isn't perfect (what contract is?) I showed it to a few career novelists I know and they thought as first contracts go, it was pretty damn good. The royalty payments are monthly and always arrive right on time. So far, anyways.

Thanks for taking the time to reply. I really appreciate it.

Jack

PeteMC
10-28-2015, 05:19 PM
Hi, I'm in pretty much the same boat at the moment - I made my original deal myself and have an option clause "on terms to be mutually agreed" for book two in the series, which I have already written.

I did my own negotiation (I know...) but I did have help with it from the Society of Authors. I'm not quite on the stock contract but naturally an agent could get me better terms that I managed by myself.

Where I differ from the OP is that my debut isn't actually out until January, so I don't have any sort of sales track record to show an agent. That said my sell-in numbers are looking fairly decent and the publisher is starting to make noises about wanting the second one.

Is this the time to start approaching agents, or should I wait until (if?) I have an offer in my hand for book 2?

Thedrellum
10-28-2015, 08:52 PM
I'd approach now. But then I always wanted an agent before doing anything. Is this with a Big 5 publisher or a small or mid-sized one? Do you have other projects that you are working on beside the next book in the contract? Both of those things might help land an agent.

KTC
10-28-2015, 09:12 PM
The best time is already past. When you find a publisher on your own, the best time is after the publisher says yes, and before you actually sign a contract.

At this point, it's as soon as possible.

What he said, exactly. The ship has sailed...but get one. NOW. (-:

KTC
10-28-2015, 09:15 PM
Technically, you do not have to finish the 3rd book before you go on submission. With two books under your belt and decent sales, you should be able to submit on a partial. First refusals are just that. Both parties can refuse the terms.

But yes, get an agent now.

Yep. You can get an agent for that third book. I see the first refusal as a way of keeping dialogue open between author/publisher. Both can refuse, right. But you could get an agent now for the next book. With your record, it probably wouldn't be hard.

PeteMC
10-28-2015, 10:51 PM
Thanks guys - publisher is mid-sized, not big five but not a small press either. I do have another project on the go as well, and I also picked up a referral from a client of a big UK agency at a con I was at last weekend so I've just reached out to them. We'll see what happens! :)