Theresa Nielsen-Hayden has this nifty re-post over here on “the getting of agents” and one of the comments logged set me to thinking about the various ways that writers hook up with their agents. So, I had a look at the 7.5 clients I signed up last year and thought I’d just do a list to satisfy my curiousity…. Of course, I’ve left out their names and just given rough descriptions. (And, yeah – some of them people could likely guess, but let’s not give them away in case they don’t want to be for whatever reason. *g*)
1. Science Fiction/Fantasy Writer – first novel – has short story sales – queried w/ referral.
2. Science Fiction/Fantasy Writer – first novel – has short story sales – met at conference.
3. Science Fiction/Fantasy Writing Team – previously published – queried.
4. Science Fiction/Fantasy Writer – first novel – deal on the table – called.
5. Romance Writer – previously published – met at conference.
6. Romance Writer – first novel – deal on the table – called.
7. Mystery Writer – first novel – has short story sales – queried. (And I sold that one today! *woot*)
Of the 7 above, I’ve yet to make sales for 2 of them. So far, this year I’ve got two new clients. One of them I signed up yesterday(!) and her novel is hitting the market today. Whee! I’m so excited. *g* The other is a bit of an unusual situation in being repped by someone else at our agency who left for different climes. So I inherited her (with a right will after reading the excellent opening to her mystery novel).
1. Science Fiction/Fantasy Writer – first novel – met at conference.
2. Mystery Writer – first novel – has short story sales. Referral?
Is it easier to get an agent with a deal already in hand? Assuredly – who wants to turn down a commission for which one hasn’t done any work? It’s like free money, right? (Gee, rhetorical much?) Or rather, a commission that one hasn’t yet worked for because getting the offer isn’t all there is to it, of course. Have I turned down someone with a deal on the table? Yep. More than once. Do you have to have a deal on the table? Nope. No way. Not one bit. If I love the book, I’ll go get one – a deal, that is (if at all possible in this reality *stubborn look*). Given how difficult it is to get published, I rather think the odds of getting picked up by query and getting an agent via already having a publisher on board likely aren’t much different (especially since many of the major publishers these days won’t read unagented submissions).
Does it help to network and have contacts? Previous to the last couple of years, nearly all of my clients came via query – and in most cases, blind query. In other words, I had not met them at a conference, nor were they a referral. I still get a fair number of these (which I just realized I forgot to post the last couple of weeks – so busy). Like an offer from a publisher, it’s certainly no guarantee that I’ll look at the work. However, I think there are things to be learned in networking, so I’d definitely encourage it — and in some cases, it does pay off.
Do short story sales help? Again I say, most assuredly – but I’m not sure how quantifiably. At least, they get my notice. On the other hand, there are plenty of people out there who are brilliant at short stories — leave you gasping in wonder after you’ve read them — change your world. And can’t hack a novel to save their life. And vice versa. So, I won’t base a decision on it ultimately.
Whatever the circumstances, my decision is going to be made somewhere in the midst of the pages I’m reading. The rest is gravy.