I'll weigh in on the "more
than one agent" issue. I write adult mysteries and
historicals for middle readers. At first I had no agent,
and was able to sell 8 books just representing myself.
But everyone seemed to think I should have an agent (including
my editors,) so I decided to sign with one. I wanted an
agent who could see all of my work, and help me prioritize
my career ... I went with someone who said they could
do that, but it soon became clear that, although he knew
adult markets pretty well, he didn't know children's markets
at all. (He refused to even deal with picture books, which
was OK with me because I wasn't writing for them.) He
did send some of my children's manuscripts out, but unsuccessfully,
and not only had no insights as to where they could go
-- he didn't send them to publishers/editors I suggested,
based on my knowledge. This spring I broke with that agent
-- for children's -- and have him just concentrating on
my work for adults. I have another agent concentrating
on my work for children.
Although there is some stress in dealing with the conflicting
needs of the two guys, I do feel I made the right move.
I'll be able to judge better in another year, when they've
both had the opportunity to market new manuscripts! But
what I've learned is that the skills and interests of
the agents are key, and that, if you write in different
genres, finding one agent to deal with both of your genres
may be a stretch.
Best of luck!
Anonymous: via Anastasia
Q. Is there a hierarchy of agents, per
se? Are there some whose submissions rise to the top simply
because of who they are?
A. Absolutely. McIntosh & Otis, Writer's
House, and Curtis Brown are among the heavyweights-agents
who have a track record of representing talented people.
Their sales often happen quite fast, too, so editors try
to look at those submissions quickly lest they miss their
chance at something great.
Agents aren't "necessary"
in children's writing - they can be helpful, especially
if you want to publish with the big houses.
They can take care of the marketing of the book for you
- selling it to a publisher, and if they're really good,
they'll be on top of your backlist as well, but that does't
mean you can just write and leave the rest to them - you
hve to be on top of your business as well.
I will caution people, though. Do not send a ms. out to
a bunch of publishers and then to an agent - if you do
that, you've cut your chances of being taken on by the
agent, especially for that book. What you've done is effectively
cut their ability to sell your book to all the houses
that you've submitted to before you sent the package off
to an agent. They sub to the same houses you will, as
well as subbing to the agents only houses. So, if you've
already subbed and been rejected by the houses that don't
restrict to agented only, then they can't resub to those
houses on your behalf for that book.Frankly, if I were
an agent, and someone approached me and said "I've
already subbed to these houses", I'd be tempted to
say "Come to me
first next time - but I won't take you with this book,
because I can't sell it for you - you've already done
my job for me."
** Another post from Bev on the same
All the advice I've ever heard is that
new agents who already have connection in the market are
the best to go with - they're hungry for clients, but
have the connections and the credibility they need to
start selling, and I've seen lots of both agents and editors
who cross over - agents moving to editing and editors
moving to agenting. The big problem with a well-known
established agent is that they have their list, and
can be as picky as they care to be, and may not take anyone
on unless they're referred by an existing client. But
new agents are hungry and will take new clients, that's
why you see relatively new agents at conferences &
such. But the best is an agent who wants new clients,
has credibility in the market and knows the market - so
an editor moving to an agent is a good bet.
The Purple Crayon:
Those are useful resources
but in my opinion you'd do better to find sources that
list agents specializing in children's books.
Two good ones are Children's Writer's and Illustrator's
) and the Agent's Guide that the SCBWI gives
to its members ( http://www.scbwi.org/
). Both attempt to "vet" the agents they list,
and generally do a pretty good job of it.
Membership in the AAR is a plus, and you can also check
out agents who you don't know on Preditors and Editors
or Writer Beware, two web sites also useful for checking