Friday, February 20, 2009

Agent Recommendation

I get asked a lot if, after a rejection, I have a recommendation for another agent who might be a better candidate for the book. I also get asked in the “real world” if I have recommendations for agents of children’s books, science fiction, or other genres I don’t represent. And sadly, the answer is almost always no.

Let’s put it this way: it’s a very, very rare occasion that I will recommend another agent, and when I do it’s only because I knew the minute I read the work that it would be a perfect fit for someone else, at which point I’ll tell you in my initial rejection letter. For the most part, though, all agents are swamped with queries and submissions and it’s rare that I know exactly what other agents are looking for and that what I’ve read is a fit for one specific person. In addition to that, I really feel that if you’ve done your homework and are submitting in a smart professional manner, you’ll hit that agent anyway.

The other thing to consider is that if I was really wowed by it I’m going to offer myself, which means I really wasn’t wowed enough to recommend the work to editors, and therefore not wowed enough to recommend it to other agents. They are all my colleagues and I would only send them work that knocks my socks off.

As for agents outside of the genres I represent, frankly, I don’t know that many and I certainly don’t know their specific wants, needs or tastes.

So, while it can’t hurt you to ask for a recommendation, it’s unlikely you’ll get one from me.

Jessica

14 comments:

Dara said...

It makes sense. I mean, agents already have enough on their plate with all the queries they receive as well as managing their clients that one shouldn't expect that they need to add one more thing for them to do.

Anonymous said...

That makes perfect sense.
I have a question on a different subject. Have you checked out the new HarperCollins Authonomy site? If so what's your views about it? I hear that agents are scouring the site looking.

Mark Terry said...

Well, you did reject my nonfiction query and recommended another agent for it and she did read it and we are in discussions about it assuming we can stop playing phone/e-mail tag long enough to actually discuss it. So yeah, sometimes you do, and thanks.

Word verification: conquedi

(sounds like conquered, doesn't it?)

Ann Victor said...

How about being asked for recommendations for professional manuscript editors? Having being bruned before, I'm nervous of just taking a name out of a book or off a website.

Ann Victor said...

sorry, that should read "...having been BURNED before..."

(Gremlins in the keyboard again. I'm obviously not feeding them enough)

Prairie Chicks Write Romance said...

Thanks, Jessica - as always your information adds at my understanding of the publishing business.

And Anonymous 9:07 - thanks for the reference to HarperCollins Authonomy. I hadn't heard of it before, interesting concept. It'll be interesting to hear Jessica's take on it. I'm off to read the very large FAQ page!

Janet

scott neumyer said...

It's amazing to me what some people will actually ask... Crazy...

Anonymous said...

Agents shouldn't be offended if a writer asks for a referral, after hearing so many horror stories out there about bad agents.
While it's not their job to do so, keep in mind it's hard to glean much about an agent from a book or website. True, it must get tiring after a while but most writers just want a helping hand and some direction, and they trust your judgement and advice. Thanks!

Jim MacKrell said...

This sounds like a lot of "lets sit around and discuss why so-in-so doesn't like me. By the way, do you know anyone who might. Agents are in precarious positon today. Many are being exposed as having feet of clay after all. All through my acting career my agent, Ray Sachheim was wonderful. You want to know why? He kept me working for 35 years...same goes in the lit business. The best agent for you is the one who sells your book.

Sooki Scott said...

True story.

I told a doctor I couldn't take a physical due to my morbid fear of doctors.

I heard papers shuffling through the phone line before she gave me a referral. "Call him. He'll work you through it."

"Is he a doctor?" I asked.

"Yes, a psychiatrist. Is there a problem?"

Click.


Sometimes we're just on our own.


Confucius says; man who runs in front of car get tired.

L.C. Gant said...

I found this post encouraging. I'm terrified of all aspects of networking, including asking for referrals. I always feel like I'm imposing on people. I know that puts me at a disadvantage in other areas, but I'm glad it's not a big deal when it comes to querying.

Word verification: worywara Sounds a little like worry wart, and I'm definitely one of those! hehe!

J. Mayhew said...

That makes perfect sense. I'm learning so much about the industry through your blog! It's great prep for me while I work on editing my book...Thanks!!

Reisa said...

It makes sense that if an agent was knocked out by your work but just didn't handle your genre, they'd automatically pass you on to someone who does.

Requesting this favor is like asking the person who's breaking up with you (after a very brief relationship) if they know someone else who'd like to date you.

Sooki Scott said...

Reisa wrote, requesting this favor is like asking the person who's breaking up with you...if they know someone else who'd like to date you.

ROFL....Reisa, this analogy cracked me up. (May I use it---grin)

Confucius; man who stands on toilet is high on pot.