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New Agent Versus Established Agent

September 14, 2010

Something you should know when you’re looking at me for an agent–I’m a new agent.  I’ve been in the business a long time, and I have good contacts, so that’s a plus.  I’m also working with Ethan Ellenberg, who’s really good and really well-established, so that’s another plus.  But I’m still so new the tags are still on.  The advantage of working with a new agent that is they don’t have a bunch of other clients competing for their attention.   There’s a window of opportunity while they are looking to build a list. 

Right now, I”m on the hunt, and looking to take on new people.

In the interests of full disclusure,  the downside is equally real.  When an agent has high-powered clients, and then takes on a new client, there’s an implicit threat in every negotiation:  Treat my new client nicely, or I will remember it when the time comes for me to negotiate the contract for my eight-hundred-pound gorilla client.  It’s never, ever spoken, but it hangs in the air when an agent is working with an editor to negotiate a deal for a new author.

I don’t have any eight hundred pound gorillas.  Yet.

So be sure to take that into  account when considering agents in your agent hunt.

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. September 14, 2010 4:12 pm

    I’ve considered this a lot when determining who I’d like to query, and I find I shy away from bigger agents and lean toward the newer ones. I love their enthusiam and fresh outlook on everything.

    Besides that, I’d rather have an agent that has more time for me. I’m not published yet, my tags are still on, so I’m cool if my agent still has hers on, too!

  2. September 14, 2010 5:14 pm

    Thanks for bringing that up. I think it’s important that writers consider this while agent hunting. I love the idea of working with a new agent. You can feel the enthusiam and I find that exciting.

  3. September 14, 2010 7:42 pm

    I agree with both Kelley’s. Love your enthusiasm.

  4. September 14, 2010 8:57 pm

    As an aside, I love how I don’t have to read all 46 replies to a single post to see if I’m treading old ground. I wonder how long that can last!

    Like Ms. York (who has a fabulous looking website, by the way), I’ve thought about this a great deal and have come to the conclusion enthusiasm is everything to me. For example, I would love to obtain and agent who loves to give editorial direction.

    I wonder how much that would occur if I was client #30. I want to be the guy who is the quick learner, so when client #30 comes along, I’m already in The Manuscript Delivery Zone.

  5. September 14, 2010 10:40 pm

    I think for me it came down to, “I would be XXX’s 687th most famous client in my genre.” (Yes, I’m prone to hyperbole in real life.) With a newer agent, I could conceivably be in their top…I don’t know…5? 10? 50? A little higher up the ladder, at any rate. I still may not be the gorilla, but at least I think I’m somewhere in the primates, where I might not be with another agent.

  6. Kate permalink
    September 14, 2010 10:41 pm

    Out of curiosity, are you interested in seeing YA in the genres you’ve listed? I’m assuming not, since you didn’t mention it explicitly. But it never hurts to ask, right?

    • Denise Little permalink*
      September 14, 2010 11:04 pm

      It wasn’t on my list, but I like it and read it. It’s a good thing, because a lot of people are querying me on it. So feel free to send.

      I’ve been debating whether or not to add it to the list, because it may open the floodgates.

      Denise

      • Kate permalink
        September 14, 2010 11:06 pm

        Ha! Good to hear–and understandable. Is there anyone who DIDN’T write a YA book this year?

        Thanks for the quick reply.

  7. Keith permalink
    September 14, 2010 11:30 pm

    800 lb gorilla? Well I had my physical today and learned I gained 4 lbs 🙂 Seriously, I’ve worked with companies for 20 years who are looking for sales agents and distributors internationally. The comment I hear most often is; We’d rather work with a smaller, newer, more aggressive agency than a larger one in which we’ll get lost or have to motivate 🙂

    When it comes to fantasy, I sure hope you’re looking for something WAY outside the paranormal and urban. It’s epic, but not high fantasy. Shoot, wish I could talk off line with you 🙂 It blew my editor, Lorin Oberweger, away.

    • Denise Little permalink*
      September 14, 2010 11:36 pm

      You sent a query on the 11th of September.

      You mentioned Tom Doherty requested it, which struck me as kind of odd, because he doesn’t in general edit or request manuscripts. I was waiting until I talked to him to see what was up before I replied.

      But you’re welcome to send it.

      Denise

      • Keith permalink
        September 15, 2010 1:16 am

        Thanks SO much. I’ve emailed you with the story of how I met Tom Doherty and submitted to him along with his email request. I’ll send my full in the a.m. Thanks again.

      • Keith permalink
        September 15, 2010 1:47 pm

        Thank you Denise. It should be somewhere in that overflowing inbox 🙂

  8. Kaitlyn permalink
    September 15, 2010 2:55 am

    I think that new agents are a great opportunity for debut writers. Since they are actively acquiring and searching for clients, that gives the writer more of a chance because the spots aren’t quite as limited.

  9. September 16, 2010 5:08 am

    I don’t have any issues with a new agent, especially if they have been in the industry prior to becoming an agent. I query established and new agents, but I love that new agents don’t act like your ‘bothering’ them with a query.

  10. September 23, 2010 6:53 pm

    On the flip side of what Denise wrote in her blog, yes, that is the THEORY… but speaking as a writer who worked with four agents over the years, at least three of whom had multiple 800-pound gorilla clients… In practice, it often doesn’t work that way at ALL from the pespective of a midlist client like myself. What actually happens in practice is that the agent is heavily invested in the clients whose income exceeds (for example) $1 mill per year, or $500K per year… and very LITTLE invested (or, indeed, not invested AT ALL) in the clients whose advances are, say, $50K/book or less. And this soon becomes readily apparent to the editor or publisher in question, because the agent’s disinterest and disengagement often surfaces as early as the offer/sale/negotiation phase, and gets worse from there.

    Which is by way of saying that although I agree with Denise on most things, I don’t agree that her not having major clients (yet) or being an 800-poun gorilla (yet) is a current drawback for her new and prospective clients. Beause an 800-pound gorilla is susprisingly useless if it is not invested in YOU and YOUR career… and that actually happens a LOT LESS than theory -says- it happens. And what actually matters is getting a skilled, informed, well-connected agent (all of which describes Denise, as it happens) who -is- invested in YOU and in YOUR career.

    My two cents, anyhow.

    • Denise Little permalink*
      September 24, 2010 4:02 am

      Hey, Laura!

      I believe in truth in advertising.

      But you know me, I love what I do, and I worked as hard as an editor for my baby authors as I did for my gorillas. As one of my authors, you’ve gotten to see me play in the publishing playground.

      I figure same rules apply for agenting.

      Denise

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