Thursday, November 29, 2007

Junior Agents and You

I've got a burning question. I'm in the querying process, and there are several junior agents that I'm interested in querying, but -- how much clout do they really have? My work is genre, and I'm afraid if I go with a younger agent who's actively building his or her client list, I'll end up being published by one of those houses that just tosses a million books out there and sees if any stick. I know I don't want an uber agent -- my friend had good ole Binky Urban and fired her after her initial book and 7 years of writers block and no attention. But I'm afraid I'll be part of someone's learning curve. This especially pertains to agents who have only worked as agents, and not on the editorial side. How do they build contacts with editors? Won't it just be the cold query process all over again?

First of all, all agents have a learning curve, because the market and even the industry is always changing in massively unpredictable ways. Until an agent lands an ultra-mega-huge score (something Salinger-esque) that will probably be paying them money when they're in a nursing home, their career is always in flux. A couple dry years and they're putting out for that third mortgage and hoping to G-d that their big clients write something new.

Junior agents, sub-agents, associate agents - whatever you want to call them - are new, but they're not on their own. They belong to a bigger agency for a reason: the head of the agency will help them along and nourish their career (and take a cut for her hard work).

My agent has no particular label to her title, but she is a new agent who is part of a larger, very established agency, and I don't lose any sleep about how many years she's been in the business.


Leah K. said...

OP here. Thanks for this -- I'm going for it.

Just to clarify, you mean your *own* agent, and not the one for whom you work, presumably?

Your blog has been a huge help. Even my prose style has cleaned up through reading your own style.

The Rejecter said...

Yes, I mean my own agent, not my boss-agent.

Anonymous said...

Nice answer!

Anonymous said...

New agents are more often looking to build their lists than more established agents. They're hungrier and not tired. Some of the old timers are living on past, and faded, glory.

Same thing might be true for editors. The editor who acquired my book was new and trying to build his list.

Dead Man Walking said...

I agree and I've long felt that the best situation for an unpubbed writer is to latch on with a less experienced agent with an established and reputable agency.