Wednesday, June 24, 2009

You, Represented By You

I’ve searched for an answer for this but can’t find it!
What happens when you query an agent, they ask to see several things at once, and like one or two mss but not the rest? I am a published author but have a few pb mss and a new MG ms. Agent is very interested in the novel but not the picture books. If I sign with the agent, does that mean that I continue submitting all the other “stuff” on my own that the agent doesn’t care for while agent submits the novel? Is that a common thing to happen where an agent only submits some of the authors work (the mss they like)?
It's not uncommon, and yes, you can submit the work your agent isn't interested in on your own.

Just don't reference your agent in the query/original submission.
(a) Generally, if you have an agent, your agent is submitting for you, and that's what editors expect.
(b) Mentioning your agent makes it sound like maybe you expect the submission to be treated as an agented submission, but if your agent's not behind it, then it hasn't been through the filter that awards it special consideration at publishers.
(c) Editors are also sensitive to the possibility of author scams (see post below 'cunning stupidity'), so a submission from someone who has an agent but whose "agent" isn't sending the submission raises a red flag.

But talk to the agent in question about this: there are lots of different styles of agenting, and you won't know which one this agent has until you ask her.


Boni Ashburn said...

Also be aware that some agents have a clause in their contract prohibiting you from submitting work on your own while you are contractually represented by them.

Anonymous said...

You just have to ask these questions and if you don't feel comfortable asking, then she probably isn't the agent for you. My first agent only represented novels, but took a percentage of any articles I sold on my own that paid more than $1 per word, but she'd negotiate the contract. She also asked to see anything I submitted, even if she wasn't repping it. My current agent will look at anything (PB, novels, nonfiction) and decide, but isn't interested in articles or the money (and he doesn't want/need to see them before I submit). However, he has offered advice when someone has asked for reprint rights of an article and I asked him. This is a good time to find out how accessible this agent is and how she sees your writing as a whole. Can you ask her stuff that is more career oriented, but not specifically about what she reps? Some people have different agents repping different things too...a nonfiction agent or their romances that are under pen names go elsewhere. They all have to be in the loop though so no conflicting contract missteps happen.

Stroppy Author said...

You might like to wonder, too, if your agent doesn't like some of your work whether it is not as good as the rest. I only suggest this - I don't mean it is necessarily true (I often think my agent is wrong to dislike some of my work :-) But it's worth taking a close look.

Anonymous said...

Is it ever the case that one agent is the best fit for one type of your work (e.g. MG or YA) while another agent is best suited for another type (pbs)?

Is it ever done to have one agent representing one type of work, and another agent representing another?

Lisa Lucas said...

Boni Ashburn raises an important point: Be sure to understand the parameters of your arrangement with the agency *before* you sign their representation agreement, and clearly specify any genres or areas of work that won't be covered by it. If your agent doesn't offer you a representation agreement (a situation that may raise other issues), at least have clear correspondence on the subject of what's covered and what's not, and a clear understanding that whatever income is generated from material you place on your own within the excluded areas is yours alone (i.e., that you will not owe your agent a share of income).

With that said, be aware that if you're placing material but you're asking your agent for advice or to review a contract, however informally, then they may reasonably expect some compensation for this. Bottom line, as Anonymous said and as noted in the original post, is that you have to ask the questions and talk with the agent. Poor communication and unasked questions are the roots of many problems that land on my desk, many of which could be avoided.

- Lisa Lucas, Esq.
Lucas LLP

Anonymous said...

My long-time agent, who reps my thrillers, doesn't do kidlit. So he recommended an agent who does.

That's what I'd suggest: get another agent, if possible. If the stuff's salable, it shouldn't be -too- tough to find someone to sell it ... and if it's not, that's good to know, too!

Unknown said...

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