This 19 message thread spans 2 pages: 2 > >
My name's Jane.
Recently I completed a third draft of a modest sized novel about two teenagers who grow up and fall in love, despite their troubled upbringings.
Think a gritty version of One Day.
What I am here to ask is a bit of a big favor, as I will be, essentially, stealing your industry knowledge.
I've written an adult novel about two lovers, and would love to know your top 5 small literary agencies. New ones if possible.
I think small agencies for a small novel about an accessible idea is best. I've written a novel that probably fits the literary of commercial fiction market. High Fidelity at times, A Fraction of the Whole at others, that type of tale.
Thank you in advance, gang. I'm only going to Sub to 5 agents so would really appreciate any insight that you might have. Also, how many edits are enough!? Haha!
You spell 'favor' as if from the US, so are you looking for US or UK agencies?
I don't think you'll get specific agency info from people here, although I could be wrong, as it will depend on your book, the agent's current list of authors and other factors.
However, you can source agents by looking at information in the UK such as: the WW Directory (for Members), the Writers and Artists Yearbook, AgentHunter, among others.
Then you can use this information to check out specific agent websites and check they really are right for you.
Regarding how many draft is enough? That's a question I still don't know.
I'm from the UK and looking for UK agencies.
Why wouldn't people suggest five small agencies that are good for submission? I mean, that's a positive thing, surely? Suggesting good agencies to Sub to.
Hi Jane, and welcome to WW.
I don't think the size of the agency is relevant: what you're looking for is an individual agent who will passionately love your work and believe they can sell it (not the same thing) and feel both those things strongly enough that they're willing and able to add you to their list of writers.
With a few exceptions in agents who've reduced their list to seven mega-sellers, all agents have a stable, which will have some writers of "small" books (though for goodness sake
don't say the S word in your submission), and some writers of big books.
An agent like that might be a well-established one-woman-or-man-band, or a new agent who's just been promoted in a huge agency, or an established agent in a middle-sized agency. You just can't tell. One top agent in such a middle-sized agency is famous for not being able to resist new writers, even though her list is packed full and she does very nicely indeed from her big name authors. She doesn't take on many, but she does take on one or two. And if she doesn't quite take you on, she might well pass the MS on to the agent in the next office who's been a hot-shot assistant agent for five years and has just been promoted, and now has a big, empty list to fill.
It's also a reason that limiting yourself to five might not be a wise move, because it's next-to-impossible to spot which on a list of agents will be the one who is the agent with exactly that combination of passion for the book, insight into how it can be sold, and space in her client list...
Best of luck!
Thank you for the advice Emma, and for the welcome!
Can you PM any decent agencies you know of? Sounds like i need to submit to more than five, but then again, if rejected by say ten, surely the book isn't ready yet anyway? Surely it isn't just a case of wrong place wrong time?
I feel obliged to put a "If I was you, I wouldn't be starting from here . . . " view. The publishing world is changing big-time. Even before self-publishing exploded, the world of agents was changing too. Now, it could be said they're in a sink or learn to swim all over again situation. Add to that the kinds of contracts publishers are offering these days, e.g. some writers are actually giving publishers options on anything they will ever write under any name forever, also giving publishers control over what they write on blogs, etc - and rather than go chase agents as in the old world, it might be better to first learn as much as you possibly can about what the consequences might be. And it might just be that this means challenging that pernicious dream: that my book will be that rare (even rarer these days) one that busts all the box office records, meaning any contract I sign will be worth it.
Bit negative there Terry but, well, thanks!
|Also, how many edits are enough!? Haha! |
But how perfectionist are you?
I am, although perfection is still miles away over the horizon. On my current wip I must have done 30-40 edits. And there's still room for improvement.
|Bit negative there Terry but, well, thanks!|
Realistic, I'd say. Don't forget publishing is an industry and it will shear the sheep every chance it gets, on both ends of a book. Which isn't to say there aren't good, passionate people who work in that industry. There's never been a time when it's important for any author to be open-eyed about the industry, not blinded by the dream.
|Can you PM any decent agencies you know of? |
Sorry, I don't have any inside information. You can look at the websites of authors who are writing the same kind of stuff as you, and see who their agents are. You can look at agencies' websites to see what their recent deals are, though they vary wildly in how much info they put there. You can also read the Bookseller and see who's doing deals at the moment - just after LBF there's a lot going on.
Most agencies do a perfectly okay job, that's the thing. They're all in WAAYB, and as long as you dodge the scammy ones, and do your research, most of the others will be okay. And you'll only know if an agent is right for you when you're sitting in their office and they're talking about which editors they might submit it to: that's when you find out. And you'll only know if they're really, really right for you once you've lived together for a while.
You can always check out an agent who's offered you representation with the Society of Authors.
|if rejected by say ten, surely the book isn't ready yet anyway? Surely it isn't just a case of wrong place wrong time?|
Not necessarily - I'd say ten automatic rejections with no feedback was the absolute minimum before you start trying to draw conclusions, because it's a very personal and subjective (see above!
decision for the agent, and they have large slushpiles and can only give feedback at all on a tiny proportion of what's submitted - so you may not get feedback when they really did quite like it. Although in the days of the word-processor standard rejections can look quite personalised, even though they aren't.
Fifteen to twenty would give you a clearer picture - and if your book is nearish to being taken on you'll probably be getting some individual indications by then. I know one author who was taken on by something like the 49th agent she approached, who went on to do a good job for her. But she got a lot of feedback from other agents along the way, so she knew that she was close.<Added>
You could also get hold of the WAAYB Guide to Getting Published, which does exactly what it says on the tin with wit and knowledge. It's stuffed with just the sort of realism about our relationship with the industry, and what our expectations of both passion and shearing should be.
(Full disclosure: I'm quoted in it.)
Realism is good Terry. I've been writing for 16 years, had a full MSS request on a past novel, met a Random House peep, been rejected, then been published in over a dozen countries in small literary magazines (sf and p), and still feel miles away. So yes, I understand the qualities that can be unearthed from being realistic.
Emma thank you so much, great insight. I guess I was just hoping for some inside know, as I am tired of trawling the WAAYB to be honest. Regardless of how much research, the element of punt is always there.
Doing the same thing over and over again, old Albert had some good views on that particular habit, lol.
If you had to name 1 good agent in terms of feedback for commercial classic love story fiction (for adults), 1, then..........................................................................................................................................................................................................who?
|You could also get hold of the WAAYB Guide to Getting Published, which does exactly what it says on the tin with wit and knowledge. It's stuffed with just the sort of realism about our relationship with the industry, and what our expectations of both passion and shearing should be.|
I haven't read this, but it may be a little out of date now (has there been a new edition since 2010? A lot's happened since then). Also, I wonder if in it Harry Bingham prepares his readers for the possible shearing that some manuscript agencies perform on their author clients, along with falsely claiming to be the pathway to getting published, finding an agent, etc.
|Realism is good Terry. I've been writing for 16 years, had a full MSS request on a past novel, met a Random House peep, been rejected, then been published in over a dozen countries in small literary magazines (sf and p), and still feel miles away. So yes, I understand the qualities that can be unearthed from being realistic. |
Apologies if I implied you were naive about the industry. Quite often I, probably unwisely, try to put the more realistic point of view across here. Part of the reason for this is that I work with a lot of new authors and it breaks my heart sometimes to see them being conned by some factors of the industry which play on their dreams. Some do this unconsciously, e.g. when an editor loves a book but knows deep down it won't get past the acquisitions committee, but encourages the author anyway, who then gets smashed down when said committee indeed rejects it - instead of being honest about what they're really looking for in the first place. With other, it's not so unconscious.
I've been on that Random House carousel too, so commiserations. Once had three books loved by the senior children's editor there, only to have this or that committee decide they weren't this or that enough.
Typical mate, but at least someone who knows what they are talking about had something positive for you. I think it gets harder when you get to that level above amateur and possibly just below professional. It can feel like nowhere. Suddenly we are not doing it as a hobby but as a passion that could become a job.
I prefer honesty, and currently get a ton of that from famous writers, so feel lucky in that sense. Still, so much more can be achieved, I just need an in. ONE IN!!!! Haha.
This 19 message thread spans 2 pages: 2 > >
Jane, I really can't - as I say, I've no insider knowledge. Certainly not of who gives feedback.
If you really want to get the inside track on individual agents then try trawling the net for where they've given interviews to e.g. bloggers. There are also the writers' conferences - Verulam, Winchester, York and dozens of other such events, where you can get individual feedback and hear them speak on panels and get chatting to them over coffee. Plenty of good agents don't do them, but you can get a feel not just for the agents at an event, but how agents tend to think. And you may come into contact with other writers who have had recent contact and can pass on information.
Terry, the book's wholly honest about where it comes from, and the bit about places to get editorial help is a tiny part of the whole. Things are changing fast, but then that's true of any book - and yet a book is still best place to present the amount and style info you need in an ordered way. I'd never say that you should take any source of information for gospel without bearing in mind where it comes from (the evangelistic self-publishers are coming from somewhere, just as much) and also keeping an eye on other sources of info.
Sorry, called you Jane and you're not, you're JA.
Or rather, JS. Need some lunch.