Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Who Does Your Prospective Agent Represent? Decisions About Submitting

There are a lot of times when agents receive a submission that says something like this. "Because you represent [insert authors] I believe my story would be perfect for you." While this approach does show that you have done your research and you know who is at that agency, there are some pros and cons that writers need to consider when using the agents current authors as a guideline. Let's take a look at those today.

First of all, it is important to remember that agents never want to have their clients in competition with one another. They want everyone in their agency to win so having multiple authors in the same genre could create that competition. In other words, they don't want to have an editor have to make a decision between Author A or Author B. This same issue also applies to editors. If a publisher already has an established author writing that particular type of story, why would they want another one? They only have so many slots each year and honestly, the established author is going to win out.

Does this mean you shouldn't submit? Absolutely not! What this does mean is that you have some steep competition ahead of you. Your story has to be equal to, if not better than the established author. Your story has to provide something that the other author doesn't do. Here at Greyhaus, this is a big issue when it comes to Regency historical authors. Ann Lethbridge/Michele Young and Bronwyn Scott have been with me since the agency opened. They are doing amazing things so when I look at a Regency project, I am always looking at it in comparison to their writing. 

Secondly, knowing who the agent represents might give you some insight into their likes and dislikes. Look for trends here. This is where you may have to start reading a few of the books they have represented. If this agent tends to represent fast and lighter reads, then your dark, contemplative story may not be the right match. 

Along the same lines, doing that research may provide for you some insight into the holes they have in their own line-up. Are they looking for a genre and really haven't found it yet? That might be the in your are looking for. Of course, there is the twist to this. It could also be that the agent is especially selective about those missing genres and this might account for the lack of authors in that area.

Here at Greyhaus, I am especially picky about romantic suspense. I like a great read that keeps me on the edge of the seat, but, to be honest, most of the romantic suspense stories I see are:
  • stereotypical
  • lacking in realism
  • forced and contrived
  • and are really suspense novels with characters having sex
Now let's talk about the big fish/small fish analogy. If you are looking at an agency that has those NY Times Best Selling Authors the odds are you will be the small fish in the pond. If you are someone that will want a lot of hands on assistance, you have to remember that the time will be limited. On the reverse side, if the agency is small or new, then you will get a lot of attention. 

I do believe this is a big myth that a lot of writers tend to believe. New agencies are bad because they haven't sold books yet. That's obvious, but it doesn't mean the agency is bad. Along the same lines, just because an agency has some "big guns" working for them does not mean your books will sell any better if your are represented by this agent. It still comes down to the book.

The point of all of this is to really look at the pros and cons. There is an agency out there for you. It might not be the one you have been dreaming to be with, but that's OK. Find the one that is the right match for your and your writing.


  1. As usual, a helpful and informative post. Nice tips. I have an agent now (and am very happy with her), but I've always enjoyed your posts.

  2. I like the way you put this. On many querying advice sites, writers are encouraged to find agents who represent the same things they are writing and it can be confusing when you get turned down by an agent you thought would be an exact match. One reason for that is probably what you've said here, possible competition among authors you represent. Makes sense.