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Gen5150
09-20-2018, 06:04 AM
Question: Causation or Correlation? What is the truth behind the relationship between agent experience and client success?

Something that has been nagging me since the beginning of my querying journey is the logic behind the way that the majority of the community views agents who are in the early stages of their careers. Leading agents have higher averages of success. This is an indisputable fact; however, the cause behind this fact is unclear. We can believe that seasoned agents have learned secret tricks to acquire six figure deals for all of their clients, but there is also the reality that writers are bias towards leading agents in the querying process.

1. We're more likely to query them earlier.
2. We're more likely to sign with them if they offer.
3. Leading agents have the most financial freedom to be the most selective when adding to their lists.

Initially, I believed that I would only add agents to my query list if they had signed at least one deal with the publishers that I am hoping to sign with. This creates a logical problem because the fact that "Ms. Jane Doe signed her first major deal with Scholastic in 2014" illustrates that major publishers are not pushing aside submissions from new agents. All agents were up-and-coming at some point. Each of them had never signed a major deal before signing their first major deal. Obviously, I am not advocating for the rejection of experience when ranking agents, but, especially as an up-and-coming writer in my twenties, I am challenging myself to find evidence to support the assumptions that I have accepted about up-and-coming agents.


Disclaimer: This is all in reference to agents at legitimate agencies.

cornflake
09-20-2018, 07:06 AM
Question: Causation or Correlation? What is the truth behind the relationship between agent experience and client success?

Something that has been nagging me since the beginning of my querying journey is the logic behind the way that the majority of the community views agents who are in the early stages of their careers. Leading agents have higher averages of success. This is an indisputable fact; however, the cause behind this fact is unclear. We can believe that seasoned agents have learned secret tricks to acquire six figure deals for all of their clients, but there is also the reality that writers are bias towards leading agents in the querying process.

1. We're more likely to query them earlier.
2. We're more likely to sign with them if they offer.
3. Leading agents have the most financial freedom to be the most selective when adding to their lists.

Initially, I believed that I would only add agents to my query list if they had signed at least one deal with the publishers that I am hoping to sign with. This creates a logical problem because the fact that "Ms. Jane Doe signed her first major deal with Scholastic in 2014" illustrates that major publishers are not pushing aside submissions from new agents. All agents were up-and-coming at some point. Each of them had never signed a major deal before signing their first major deal. Obviously, I am not advocating for the rejection of experience when ranking agents, but, especially as an up-and-coming writer in my twenties, I am challenging myself to find evidence to support the assumptions that I have accepted about up-and-coming agents.


Disclaimer: This is all in reference to agents at legitimate agencies.

I don't think I understand what you're asking -- could you restate your question?

In general, it depends on who and where. Experienced, big name agents don't get deals because they know secret tricks; they get deals because they have experience and relationships with editors, and thus know what certain editors like, what they're looking for, what's in their lists and what's missing, etc., and also have the experience to be able to tell what will be likely to sell.

A junior agent at a big agency, or who struck out on his or her own after working with a well-connected agent, will have relationships on board, and knowledge gained. A new agent who worked in the business for a year at a small press doesn't likely have any relationships or much relevant experience to people who want big-five deals.

Gen5150
09-20-2018, 11:47 AM
@Cornflake

I am not really asking a question in search of advice. I am mainly questioning the tangible differences between big name agents and junior agents. Junior agents are often regarded as last resorts, but some of the arguments behind that mindset seem unclear.

For example, speaking of relationships with editors. If I knew that an editor loved anti-heroes, I would know to put them on my submission list for an anti-hero story. If I did not have that knowledge, it is still plausible that they would be on my list if I wanted to sign with their publisher. Ultimately, I could see the big name agent having the knowledge to send a manuscript to a specific editor first, but I have trouble assuming that agents would have completely different editors on their submission list based on their career experience. No one would argue that spending two weeks on submission is worse than spending six months. But does anyone actually have any evidence or anecdotes that suggest that big agents have more submission options than junior agents? Are junior agents who are actively submitting to editors truly at a disadvantage?

waylander
09-20-2018, 11:57 AM
If an agent has sold a book to an editor and that book goes on to sell well then the editor is going to be more receptive to the subsequent books that agent subs to them. Editors only have so many slots for new properties in their schedules so the agent who has a good record of succesful books with that editor is always going to have a better chance than one who has not sold to them. Agents get submissions that are never replied to same as writers. The last book of mine that went on sub had nearly half the editors never reply, and my agent is pretty succesful.

Gen5150
09-20-2018, 11:59 AM
Note: Big name agents were at the top of my query list. I want to stress that I am not arguing what writers should or shouldn't do. I am only wondering if it is our publishing dreams that are telling us that we have to be rejected by the top agents before turning to junior agents. Or that editors have secret identities with secret tastes that junior agents don't understand. It is tempted to make broad assumptions about the superiority of certain agents, but it is hard to determine what is reality and what is speculation.

Gen5150
09-20-2018, 12:07 PM
If an agent has sold a book to an editor and that book goes on to sell well then the editor is going to be more receptive to the subsequent books that agent subs to them. Editors only have so many slots for new properties in their schedules so the agent who has a good record of succesful books with that editor is always going to have a better chance than one who has not sold to them. Agents get submissions that are never replied to same as writers. The last book of mine that went on sub had nearly half the editors never reply, and my agent is pretty succesful.

Thanks for mentioning this because I have had similar thoughts. Editors are human beings, and I could see certain editors privileging works that are attached to agents who they are fond of.

WeaselFire
09-21-2018, 12:22 AM
Frankly, agents are agents. Some are good, some aren't. I'm more concerned with how I fit with and relate to an agent than what major author they rep or what six figure deal they did. I don't believe agents make great deals because of who the agent is but rather because of who the author is and what the book is. My basis for this is that most big-name authors with decent reputations for sales didn't get six figure deals on their first few books. Stephen King got $2,500 as an advance for Carrie, though he later made a mint on paperback and movie rights. John Grisham was rejected by all the major publishers for his firs book, A Time to Kill, and ended up with an unknown publisher and a meager 5,000 copy print run. The publisher of Neil Gaiman's first book went bankrupt.

If it were just the reputation of agents, any drivel could sell.

Jeff

Harlequin
09-21-2018, 12:45 AM
Question: Causation or Correlation? What is the truth behind the relationship between agent experience and client success?

Something that has been nagging me since the beginning of my querying journey is the logic behind the way that the majority of the community views agents who are in the early stages of their careers. Leading agents have higher averages of success. This is an indisputable fact; however, the cause behind this fact is unclear. We can believe that seasoned agents have learned secret tricks to acquire six figure deals for all of their clients, but there is also the reality that writers are bias towards leading agents in the querying process.

1. We're more likely to query them earlier.
2. We're more likely to sign with them if they offer.
3. Leading agents have the most financial freedom to be the most selective when adding to their lists.

Initially, I believed that I would only add agents to my query list if they had signed at least one deal with the publishers that I am hoping to sign with. This creates a logical problem because the fact that "Ms. Jane Doe signed her first major deal with Scholastic in 2014" illustrates that major publishers are not pushing aside submissions from new agents. All agents were up-and-coming at some point. Each of them had never signed a major deal before signing their first major deal. Obviously, I am not advocating for the rejection of experience when ranking agents, but, especially as an up-and-coming writer in my twenties, I am challenging myself to find evidence to support the assumptions that I have accepted about up-and-coming agents.


Disclaimer: This is all in reference to agents at legitimate agencies.

Here are my thought,s and you can take them or leave them. I've ordered them roughly the same as your op for ease.

1. Bigger agents were NOT top of my query priority, for several reasons. First, I watched a big name agent (Donald Maass, in fact) mess my CP around for 18 months with an endless R&R that wore at her confidence and shredded her MS. He requested edits without sufficient guidance on how to fulfill them, expected the MS to remain exclusive the entire time, went months without answering nudges or returning material, and had a vision for the book which didn't match hers. Just because an agent is good, doesn't mean they are good *for*you* and you absolutely must bear that in mind.

Tied in with the DM fiasco - bigger agents have bigger fish to fry. You, debut author, are a small fish. It is very difficult to sit at the top of a big agents' priority list, when they have clients who they might have known for 10+ years who rake in the big $$$. Lucienne Diver has over 40 active clients; is she really going to give her full attention to your work, if you're less known and less "important"? She might, but she might not; established clients must take priority, after all.

In summary, I prioritised newer agents at established agencies, rather than big rockstar agents, because I want someone with a smaller client list who will make me their priority, but who also has the fallback experience of a larger team to call on.


2. CP did get an offer from DM in the end; she turned him down for a relatively new agent who was keen on her, and communicative. Again, a good agent isn't enough; they have to be good *for*you*.

I had a full out with current agent (newish lady), and with Merrilee Heifetz (bigger agent.) I talked to my partner and decided that I would turn Merrilee down, if it came to it. As it happened, there was no need; she rejected with some feedback and saved me the anxiety. But it's the same deal. I want an agent to actually remember my name (lol) and not just have me on a list somewhere.

If you go into a partnership with a big agent, as a newbie author, the power imbalance is always going to be difficult. Some writers would be fine with it, some wouldn't care; it would bug me.

I would also add--newer agents tend to be quicker. Bigger agents often have longer response times, because they have less incentive to sign and way more queries. Now "quick" may seem like a shallow reason to base any decision, but we are talking about the difference between hearing back in 12 weeks for a query, and hearing back in 12 months or more. That same time delay extends to revisions; a bigger agent with more clients and lots of duties is probably slower to handle edits, answer emails, and so on. Not always, but more likely, in my limited experience. Or else you're dealign with their assistant.


3. True, but that's not something which affects the author. I'm not sure it's to their advantage, either.

folclor
09-21-2018, 03:16 AM
Just throwing my 2 cents in (as an unagented writer). The agents on my submission list are those that describe wanting what I'm writing. I do make sure the agencies are good, but I want someone who actually likes what I send them.

Gen5150
09-21-2018, 03:45 AM
I don't believe agents make great deals because of who the agent is but rather because of who the author is and what the book is.

There are definitely too many stories of writers signing with agents because of their client list, then parting with those agents after disputes. Writers wear many hats these days. You might choose an agent who doesn't like your behavior on social media, or vice versa. Personal connection is more important than ever.


1. Bigger agents were NOT top of my query priority, for several reasons. First, I watched a big name agent (Donald Maass, in fact) mess my CP around for 18 months with an endless R&R that wore at her confidence and shredded her MS. He requested edits without sufficient guidance on how to fulfill them, expected the MS to remain exclusive the entire time, went months without answering nudges or returning material, and had a vision for the book which didn't match hers. Just because an agent is good, doesn't mean they are good *for*you* and you absolutely must bear that in mind.
This might be a norm for his agency. While researching one of his mentees, I listened to a podcast where she claimed that it was ridiculous that modern writers are business-oriented and don't want to have day-jobs. She wants her clients to want day-jobs. She signed with a few clients last year and they are still working through revisions. I love feedback, but I am not fond of the power dynamics of being locked into revisions.

I had a full out with current agent (newish lady), and with Merrilee Heifetz (bigger agent.) I talked to my partner and decided that I would turn Merrilee down, if it came to it. As it happened, there was no need; she rejected with some feedback and saved me the anxiety. But it's the same deal. I want an agent to actually remember my name (lol) and not just have me on a list somewhere.
This brings me back to marketing. Big name agents will sign endless major deals, but I do wonder why certain writers on their lists are not bigger than they are. You have writers like Tomi Adeyemi in Entertainment Weekly before her first book hits the shelves. Most writers with agents at ICM Partners aren't getting that amount of promotion. You would have that expectation when signing with them because you are human with dreams. But even on the client lists of those agents, those successes are outliers.

Gen5150
09-21-2018, 03:53 AM
Just throwing my 2 cents in (as an unagented writer). The agents on my submission list are those that describe wanting what I'm writing. I do make sure the agencies are good, but I want someone who actually likes what I send them.

Absolutely. I search for everything that I am can find about agent-preferences before I send queries. But I find that if two agents are looking for a story like mine, I have always queried the bigger names first, and I'm starting to rethink that mindset.

Harlequin
09-21-2018, 03:54 AM
It's not the norm for his agency. Very definitely not. None of his behaviour was professional in this particular case; and if the whole agency was like that they'd bust (plus some aw'ers are repped by other agents at that agency).

Bearing in mind, revisions over a long period of time with an agent you've signed with is a different cup of tea to doing RandR (which is technically a rejection, no contracts signed) that is exclusive (can't be queried elsewhere) and no guarantee at the end of it re signing. Anyways.

I would agree that getting on with an agent matters. I mean thy have to be professional as a baseline, but you can't work longterm with someone who annoys you and vice versa.

lizmonster
09-21-2018, 04:05 AM
This brings me back to marketing. Big name agents will sign endless major deals, but I do wonder why certain writers on their lists are not bigger than they are. You have writers like Tomi Adeyemi in Entertainment Weekly before her first book hits the shelves. Most writers with agents at ICM Partners aren't getting that amount of promotion. You would have that expectation when signing with them because you are human with dreams. But even on the client lists of those agents, those successes are outliers.

Agencies don't do the marketing. Publishers do. Deals come in all shapes and sizes, and no matter how big the agency, their goal should be to get the best deal for each work, whatever "best" means for the author's career. (Hint: It's not always tied to the amount of the advance.) An agency doesn't have the power to get every author they rep onto the NYT bestseller list. Even major publishers have a limited number of knobs they can turn there.

IME it's the individual agent that's important. You want someone who knows the business (either through experience or apprenticeship), and shares your vision for your work and your career. And yes, someone who's not too busy to return your phone calls, and who'll answer your questions, especially when you're new and still learning the ropes.

And seriously, you need to get along with them. Nobody says you have to be drinking buddies, but you should be comfortable talking with them, asking questions, sending emails. If it all goes well, you'll be building a solid business relationship with this person. If you're worried about asking questions because oh, dear, they're so busy with their Big Clients, that's a problem. Whether it's yours or theirs will say a lot about whether or not they're a good long-term match for you.

Shoeless
09-21-2018, 05:48 AM
If it all goes well, you'll be building a solid business relationship with this person. If you're worried about asking questions because oh, dear, they're so busy with their Big Clients, that's a problem. Whether it's yours or theirs will say a lot about whether or not they're a good long-term match for you.

Depending on your own sense of self-esteem, this can be a tough one to shake. My own agent has her roster of writers that are making some pretty noticeable progress in terms of the popularity of their books and the deals she secured for them. I know for myself it's always hard to keep the Imposter Syndrome at bay when writing to her or taking a phone call, just because I'm "starting out," without any proven track record of sales while some of her other clients getting great reviews, or hitting #1 for sales on Amazon in their genre. It's hard for me to resist the urge sometimes to just curl up in a hole and not want to ask her a question or get some clarification on something when I know that I'm there based on potential, but have yet to prove myself as a client with sales.

In no way is this a criticism of her, since she's always been responsive, and has even encouraged me to take phone calls with her and talk things out when I've been reluctant to do so for fear of taking up her time, but I do feel weird/guilty sometimes, using up Agent Time when there others who've already shown their value and I haven't yet done that.

lizmonster
09-21-2018, 05:54 AM
In no way is this a criticism of her, since she's always been responsive, and has even encouraged me to take phone calls with her and talk things out when I've been reluctant to do so for fear of taking up her time, but I do feel weird/guilty sometimes, using up Agent Time when there others who've already shown their value and I haven't yet done that.

I absolutely know how you feel, but this is one of the top five things I think writers really need to get over. You are paying her. She wouldn't (shouldn't) have taken you on if she were not just as willing to work for you as for her Amazon bestseller. Every deal is going to require a different amount of attention, and bigger deals don't necessarily require more time than smaller ones. And if she's really too busy to help you out right now? She'll say so, and she'll say so professionally.

Gen5150
09-22-2018, 03:30 AM
It's not the norm for his agency. Very definitely not.
I might have been unclear. Lack of professionalism is definitely not the norm for his agency. I was referring to the mindset towards revisions. Some agents hold the opinion that asking for revisions is always beneficial for the writer; therefore, agents are being generous by offering r&rs. The assumption that writers should devote the time regardless of whether the project will amount to anything because they are improving their craft along the way.


Agencies don't do the marketing. Publishers do. Deals come in all shapes and sizes, and no matter how big the agency, their goal should be to get the best deal for each work, whatever "best" means for the author's career. (Hint: It's not always tied to the amount of the advance.) An agency doesn't have the power to get every author they rep onto the NYT bestseller list. Even major publishers have a limited number of knobs they can turn there.
This might have been unclear as well. My point was not that agents are unsatisfactory for not making all of their clients bestsellers, but rather about operating under the false premise that one will be a bestseller because one has signed with the same agent as bestselling authors.

Similar to the points that Shoeless is raising, it is only human to be distraught if an agent who is managing extremely successful careers for other authors is struggling to find great opportunities for your work. As writers, we do have to remind ourselves that agents are working for us, but I would argue that the beginning of accepting that reality is reconsidering the way that we casually talk about big names. We speak as though there is such a major gap between big names and the average agent that most writers would feel meek in their presence. Jodi Reamer could not possibly recreate Twilight numbers over and over again. That would be economically impossible. But if we speak as though her cleverness and connections made Twilight a phenomenon with complete disregard for the rest of her client list, then we are naturally going to have a morphed view of what any agent can do for us.

lizmonster
09-22-2018, 04:11 AM
Some agents hold the opinion that asking for revisions is always beneficial for the writer; therefore, agents are being generous by offering r&rs. The assumption that writers should devote the time regardless of whether the project will amount to anything because they are improving their craft along the way.

Do you have a link for this? This strikes me as paternalistic, and - to the extent that a writer takes misplaced hope from it - kind of cruel. I'd like to know which agents think this is a good idea.


This might have been unclear as well. My point was not that agents are unsatisfactory for not making all of their clients bestsellers, but rather about operating under the false premise that one will be a bestseller because one has signed with the same agent as bestselling authors.

Ah, I see. :) I didn't think of this, because I've never thought of agents that way. My assumption was that agents with authors who had done well were well-versed in the business and had a good set of contacts. My assumption was they'd be able to get me the best chance at a good deal for my book. I've since concluded it's a lot more complicated than that.


Similar to the points that Shoeless is raising, it is only human to be distraught if an agent who is managing extremely successful careers for other authors is struggling to find great opportunities for your work.

I think it's human to be distraught if any agent is struggling to find great opportunities for your work. But a good agent will set your expectations before you go on sub. That's not a guarantee of any kind, but an agent who's got knowledge and experience is going to have a sense of your odds, at least.


As writers, we do have to remind ourselves that agents are working for us, but I would argue that the beginning of accepting that reality is reconsidering the way that we casually talk about big names.

Once again, this may be a "me" problem, because I don't know who the "big names" are. I had no idea who repped Stephanie Meyer until you named her, and I can honestly say I don't recognize her name. The only reason I know names of agents in my own genre is because I've heard their names from writers I've spoken with. (Yes, I know one ought to research the client list before querying.)

To the original point: I don't think it matters if an agent has a stable of bestselling authors. I do think experience matters. If an agent has been in the business for a while, or is apprenticed with an agent who's been in the business for a while, they'll go to the top of my list whether or not they've got any bestselling clients. It doesn't have anything to do with financial success, really; I want someone who knows the corners of the business, good and bad, and can advise me accordingly. Nobody makes a bestseller but readers, and good luck predicting what they're going to do. ;)

Gen5150
09-22-2018, 09:28 AM
Do you have a link for this? This strikes me as paternalistic, and - to the extent that a writer takes misplaced hope from it - kind of cruel. I'd like to know which agents think this is a good idea.
I'd have to return later with specifics, including the mentee that I mentioned. I also find that mindset paternalistic, but it is justified in light of certain agents having an extensive editing experience. Overall, I have no problem with that mindset if the agent offers disclaimers. Most writers appreciate feedback even if it comes with a note that representation is unlikely.


Once again, this may be a "me" problem, because I don't know who the "big names" are. I had no idea who repped Stephanie Meyer until you named her, and I can honestly say I don't recognize her name. The only reason I know names of agents in my own genre is because I've heard their names from writers I've spoken with. (Yes, I know one ought to research the client list before querying.)

To the original point: I don't think it matters if an agent has a stable of bestselling authors. I do think experience matters. If an agent has been in the business for a while, or is apprenticed with an agent who's been in the business for a while, they'll go to the top of my list whether or not they've got any bestselling clients. It doesn't have anything to do with financial success, really; I want someone who knows the corners of the business, good and bad, and can advise me accordingly. Nobody makes a bestseller but readers, and good luck predicting what they're going to do. ;)
You're input has reminded me of the importance of genre in this conversation. The wave of chasing after hype within the middle grade and young adult spheres is likely at the root of this issue. I have no idea who works with Patrick Rothfuss or Andy Weir. It is even harder to find financial information about sales and advances for adult novels. Everything in YA is made into a headline. Everything has to be a phenomenon, and it is having a negative impact.

Harlequin
09-22-2018, 10:44 AM
Ironically, I know who reps Patrick Rothfuss (Bialer, at Greenburg). I made a point of finding out so as to not query them. Not because they aren't a good agent but because their tastes run counter to mine (judging by the other authors they also rep). More irony; he same agent also reps the guy who beat me out in Pitch wars last year. But I digress.

I do know a bit about the process as well. Bialer helped Rothfuss revise his book heavily, and believed it could be bestseller material but might require patience. Rothfuss' early offers were from small presses and his agent urged him to wait, advice which turned out to be sound when thy eventually nabbed a big publisher.


To the rest of the post, I am not really sure what to say. R&rs can be helpful, but they should never be exclusive. I don't think I talk about big agents casually? There is a power imbalance but that's why you have to value yourself, I guess. Which can take time.

Generally, ya has two or three times the debut advance as adult, in sff. Not always, but not uncommon. For adult sff debuts with the big 5, there is a lot of variance but around 20k is not uncommon. Afaik and based on what I've seen. There are so many, many factors though.

I am still discovering what is normal or not as I encounter it in the process.

ap123
09-22-2018, 04:05 PM
Unagented .02--I will love the agent who loves the mss I'm querying enough to believe they can earn $ from it and make an offer.

It's a thrill to have a full requested by an agent who has repped Bignamebestsellingauthor, but at the end of the day, it doesn't matter if they don't offer. I think there are pros and cons to be found whether the agent is new but with a big name, trusted agency, established but with a small, lesser known to querying authors agency, etc.

I query widely in terms of experience of agent/size type of agency, etc, but for me the focus is on what any given agent says they're looking for, and what/who they rep--not that I'm looking for agents who rep bestsellers/prizewinners, but are the books they rep those I could imagine my story fitting in with. Top of my list are agents who say they want to rep writers, not individual stories (though of course, offers are made bc of a specific mss being queried), but that's a personal preference.

lizmonster
09-22-2018, 04:13 PM
I'd have to return later with specifics, including the mentee that I mentioned. I also find that mindset paternalistic, but it is justified in light of certain agents having an extensive editing experience. Overall, I have no problem with that mindset if the agent offers disclaimers. Most writers appreciate feedback even if it comes with a note that representation is unlikely.

I'd have to see exactly how the request is phrased, because there's a world of difference between an R accompanied by "you might get more traction if you did X Y Z" and "why don't you make these changes and I'll read again?" when they have no intention of ever repping anything by that writer at all. The latter is, in my opinion, unprofessional - and kind of strange, since I've heard a number of agents and editors talk about having to take care with rejecting writers to make sure the writer doesn't assume there was a promise implied.

(And I got my first agent off an R&R, so I'm not opposed to them in general. But she read as I revised, so I had a sense of her engagement as I went along.)

I wonder if some of the issue is the age of many querying writers? I've never seen statistics on that. I was 48 when I first queried. I'm 53 now. I'm as intimidated by the process as anyone, but I'm also not coming from a place where I'd be grateful to someone who deliberately held out false hope because they thought somehow it'd be good for me.


To the rest of the post, I am not really sure what to say. R&rs can be helpful, but they should never be exclusive. I don't think I talk about big agents casually? There is a power imbalance but that's why you have to value yourself, I guess. Which can take time.

I'd only add that the power imbalance exists before you sign. After that, everything changes (or it should), and it's not always so easy to switch that mindset. Which is, IME, why a lot of people end up with agents that don't really suit them, or publishing deals that don't work well. So many of us enter the querying process vulnerable to praise, grateful that someone thinks we might actually be "worth it."

The truth of it is, nobody--not the most engaged, proactive, supportive agent in the world--cares about your work like you do, and you've got to defend it accordingly. Even if it means saying "no" and waiting for the next deal.

ap123
09-22-2018, 04:55 PM
someone who deliberately held out false hope because they thought somehow it'd be good for me.





I haven't seen any quotes from agents saying that, but I have seen a few who said they almost always ask for an R&R before offering rep to make sure the writer is willing/able to make revisions.

lizmonster
09-22-2018, 05:20 PM
I haven't seen any quotes from agents saying that, but I have seen a few who said they almost always ask for an R&R before offering rep to make sure the writer is willing/able to make revisions.

Which doesn't (in general) seem out of line to me, and is why I was looking for specifics on what Gen5150 was referring to. I do know interpretations of phrasing can vary widely.

ap123
09-22-2018, 05:29 PM
I do know interpretations of phrasing can vary widely.

If anyone's searching for the gold in this thread, this quote is it. 100% truth. :)

eqb
09-22-2018, 05:46 PM
Some agents hold the opinion that asking for revisions is always beneficial for the writer; therefore, agents are being generous by offering r&rs. The assumption that writers should devote the time regardless of whether the project will amount to anything because they are improving their craft along the way.

I'd also like to see a cite for this. In my experience, agents don't ask for an R&R simply to help the writer improve their craft--they're too busy with their current clients. Even if the agent ultimately passes on a revised ms., they only do this if they believe the R&R could lead to an offer of rep.

Gen5150
09-23-2018, 05:57 AM
I haven't seen any quotes from agents saying that, but I have seen a few who said they almost always ask for an R&R before offering rep to make sure the writer is willing/able to make revisions.

I'd also like to see a cite for this. In my experience, agents don't ask for an R&R simply to help the writer improve their craft--they're too busy with their current clients. Even if the agent ultimately passes on a revised ms., they only make do this if they believe the R&R could lead to an offer of rep.
Ah, I see!

That comment was specifically speaking about justification rather than motive. With the except of the two or three agents who made headlines this summer, I don't believe that most agents are plotting to waste writers' time. It would absolutely be odd to have no interest in something before offering revisions to writers.

I am talking about the mindset that the worst outcome of an r&r is being left with a better manuscript. I have a writer friend who sent revisions to Seymour agent, who "loves using her editing background to help writers." After months, she responded that she loved the newest version and would be interested in seeing future work, but was not confident that she could sell the subject matter at this time. She was, however, sure that it would be picked up quickly with the new changes. She was a junior agent, which might speak to her being less definitive with rejections. I've seen a few other stories of agents admitting that the requested changes were well done, but they were only 98% interested when they prefer 100%. All of the examples that I have are told from the perspectives of writers, so I suppose that it wouldn't be fair to mention specific agents. I do think that some agents forget that their requests will not necessarily make a manuscript more marketable to all agents and editors, but I don't think that any agent is coming from a malicious place when being too liberal with r&r offers.