Monday, November 4, 2013

Big Fish In a Small Pond Or Small Fish In A Big Pond

Does size matter? When it comes to looking for an agent for representation, there are some authors out there that believe size does matter. However, like everything else out there in publishing, this might not be the only answer.

There is the belief that the size of the agency, and knowing how many writers the agent represents says something about the quality of the agent and the agency. This, unfortunately, can not be an established rule writers should follow. Knowing an agent represents 100 or 200 clients simply means the agent represents that many people. We don't know how many are published. We don't know how many are active. We simply know a number.

Writers need to understand that agents set their own limits in terms of the number of writers they represent. Some of that is due to their own staffing needs. Some of that stems from the genres they represent. For me at Greyhaus, I chose to be a small agency. I didn't want to find myself representing hundreds of authors. Why? I want the authors to know they can come to me at any time and to also know they will not become just another number in a database of submissions.

If you are an author looking for an agent, you need to be looking at the services the agent provides and the type of work they will do for you. What are your needs and will that person represent you? Along the same lines, you have to consider, if you are new author, will you be that small fish in a big pond? Will you get all of the help you need to launch that career.

I do believe that authors get too hung up, and get swayed too quickly after hearing of the 6-figure deals agents are making, or the number of clients they represent. The real question should be, "what do you need?"


  1. Good Morning:
    I love romance. And I enjoy writing romance. And I think that romance is the genre I will best fit into. (See, I'm faithfully reading your blog each morning, and along with learning to write better and better, I am also researching the market and considering my future career. Just like you instruct us newbies to do.)

    Ok. So, I've crawled out from behind the laptop and experimented with a bit of professional schmoozing, only to trip and fall face first into the big boulder: Stereotyping. I've heard it's out there, but this is my first encounter with "romance writers are not real writers" – they are more a sub-class of writers, who if they are lucky, might grow up to be "real" writers someday.

    Ok. I've been learning to plot and a hundred other techniques that should give me a great piece of writing, even if it is romance. And it's darn hard work. So I don't accept this particular stereotyping doctrine. Not in the least. But I'm still a novice. And that boulder hurts.

    How do romance writers handle this kind of prejudice?
    Thank-you for any thoughts you have on this subject. And thank-you for your blog.
    Kate M.

    1. Dear Kate,
      As a romance author, I can relate. Actually, there's an entire organization called RWA full of those who have established the value of romance novels as being REAL writing and stories. Count your blessings that so many have come before you to establish the validity of your career choice...

      That said, Romance is actually harder work because you have to do all the stuff "real writers" do to create a story readers will enjoy, and end the story with an uplifting relationship that promises HEA. Romance readers are rather demanding about the stories, relationships, and characters being real. There's a lot of successful romance novelists that have standard quips about why they write romance but the most important thing to remember is that, these writers know their market, their audience, and will more often be laughing all the way to the bank with their "sub-writer" status.

      My personal journey regarding these boulders is that I know why I write romance. So be clear why you write romance because it is darn hard work, or as one of my friends stated, "It's the hardest work I've ever loved." Seek out romance novelists for your professional schmoozing - even if you only find them online.

      Eventually you will connect with successful romance authors and be highly impressed with who they are as people, and what they do for their communities, and fans. There are some pretty impressive ones!

      Keep reading Scott's blog, and I'm not one of his clients, as I do. Plus I follow a lot of author blogs and not just ones in my genre.
      You're beginning a marvelous journey so don't let one boulder at the trailhead block you from continuing. :D

  2. Read the blog tomorrow! and AMEN Terri!