Wednesday, May 15, 2019

You want to write widely, your agent represents narrowly

I apologize if this question has been asked before, but I was wondering about the types of work agents claim they represent. In doing my research and building my spreadsheet of potential literary sharks, I am noticing that most agents have a specific list of genres that they rep. This makes sense, it's what they enjoy and what they are better at selling. But what if a poor woodland creature writes a taught thriller, gets an agent who sells taught thrillers, but then really gets a wild hair to write a sci-fi adventure later on? What if that agent doesn't rep sci-fi? I'm under the impression that agents are looking beyond just a single book sale, that they are looking to help build an author's career, but what if that author also writes things outside of that agent's purview? Will I need another agent to rep my incredible backlog of dinoporn?

When you say claim to represent the implication is that maybe agents don't actually represent those kinds of work."Claim" has an element of doubt. He claimed to have written dino porn ...but in fact it was climate porn.

You're really asking about the types of work agents say or indicate or list that they represent.

*closes the spiffy new dictionary*
*receives accolades from the Smug Diction Brigade and wonder why everyone else is looking pickle pussed...Oh right, pedantic is not how you make friends.*

Your question is a good one. The answer is to ask a prospective agent before you sign with them.

I've had this happen.
Sometimes I've found my beloved client a new agent.

Sometimes I've learned the category.

This is a question I ALWAYS ask before signatures go on agreements: what else do you want to write? If the prospect only plans to write one book, no problem. If someone writing narrative non-fiction also wants to write middle grade non-fiction, no problem. If someone writing  a thriller wants to write dino porn, well, then we discuss, cause I only represent financial porn.

Come here often?


Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Whoa, "If the prospect only plans to write one book, no problem."
Yowza...back up the boat and haul in the nets!

While slightly veering off you actually take on authors who write ONLY one book or are you speaking of ONLY one genre?

I have been programed to believe agents and publishers want authors with long, many-books-published careers. This leaves us "writers of a certain age" at a disadvantage. Is there chum for us too?

Timothy Lowe said...

Nobody escapes . . . The Smug Diction Brigade!

*Cue Smug Diction Inquisitors in silly hats*

Thanks for the laugh this morning!

Liz Penney said...

There are many agents who go book by book. Friends of mine have changed agents more than once, still writing, but with a new agent. Agents shift genres they represent. Agents drop writers after one book doesn't sell--or does.The career rep isn't a given.

Amy Johnson said...

Yay, now I know what I'll be for Halloween! It'll be fun. And I have over five months to make my silly hat.

julie.weathers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Craig F said...

Sometimes it goes past where your agent can take you. Some publishers want their authors in little niches. Some of those are tough for an author to stay in. That is one of the reasons for a pen name.

A pen name might be better if you kill people in one writing form and write/illustrate picture books with the other half of your brain.

Morgan Hazelwood said...

LW - I'd always heard that your agent has first right-of-refusal for anything you write. So, if you're still writing thrillers, but come out with a romance and they don't represent that... they might decide it's time to branch out. Or they'll branch out for you.

Or, they'll give you their blessing to query other agents (maybe even a Referral!). Often, while still working with you on all those thrillers you're writing.

You can have multiple agents.

Morgan Hazelwood said...

Of course bowing to Her Sharkiness, but that seems in line with what she said. :)

Jen said...

I changed genres with my agent, only to find querying when one already has an agent is awkward to say the least. But, yes, you can have more than one. The question is whether or not agents are willing to rep you when you already have representation.

Gingermollymarilyn said...

The Smug Dictionary - taut, not taught.