I recently signed with a terrific agent for my nonfiction work. I’m thrilled – I already have a book deal, she represents authors who are highly regarded in my field, and she’s a perfect fit for what I do.This is not running on your woodland creature rodent wheel. This is a real problem, and it's one I'm seeing more and more.
But I also write fiction, and while my agent does represent some children's fiction, neither she nor anyone at her agency represents the category of my soon-to-be-finished first novel (adult crime fiction). My agent has said she’d be happy to look at anything I write, but that she understands completely if I’d rather look elsewhere for fiction representation.
Working with her has been a dream come true – she got me more money and better terms than I had hoped for on the nonfiction book, and I just really respect her and enjoy working with her. I need to decide (maybe?) whether I’d be better off sticking with her even though she usually doesn’t represent or read crime fic (if the novel is even up to her standards), or querying other agents once the manuscript is ready to go. I also want to do what's best for my agent, and I don’t want to saddle her with a novel she’s not excited about. Am I overthinking this? Should I just give her the manuscript and let her make the call? What should I have for lunch? Oh God, why are writers like this?
The ideal solution is of course to find an agent to rep your adult fiction, while your current agent reps your non-fiction.
This is going to be a whole lot harder than you think.
For example, if you approached me to rep your adult fiction I'd need to know and trust your current agent. Communication between the two agents is going to be a big factor in this polyamourous representation.
Each agent would have to loop the other in on contract negotiations. Some contracts have non-compete clauses, next works clauses, and option clauses that can throw a spanner in the works pretty damn quickly.
I have one client who has two agents: Sean Ferrell. The estimable Brooks Sherman reps Sean for his picture books. I rep him for his adult fiction. When this arrangement started, Brooks' desk was right next to mine, and we could discuss all aspects of the picture book deals right then and there.
I can't imagine how cumbersome that would be for an agent in another office, let alone one in a different company.
That's why I tend not to sign people for anything less than their full wardrobe of work.
But, if your current NF agent is ok with the arrangement, you can query agents who rep crime fiction. You're going to need to tell them about this other agent in the query letter (you'll put the info in the last paragraph NOT the first.)
This is another instance where meeting agents in person is a good idea. It's a whole lot easier to figure this out when I can talk to a writer face to face and ask questions.