I plan on querying soon. I have 30 agents on my first round list of querying. I plan on sending these queries out in a series of 5 queries at a time for about 1-2 weeks. I am sending them out in alphabetical order by Agency because I would be happy with any of the agents. I do have a query etiquette question though.
I have all reputable agencies on my list, but the agents have varying degrees of expertise from the power agents to the newcomers. I added newcomers because I believe they might read my manuscript faster and if the newcomers offer me rep, that would allow me to email the other agents with an offer which will in turn speed up their reading. Does this sound shady? As I mentioned I would be happy with any of the agents, but it would be false to say it wouldn't be intriguing to pick a proven power agent over a newcomer. So to summarize my questions:
1. Does this sound shady? I hope not.
2. What benefits does a newcomer have to an "old head" power agent (I would assume the "old head" power agent's submissions hold more credibility with editors)
3. How can you tell if the newcomer is in it for the long haul with their own career and will be a power agent one day? Are there any little tricks you know in helping us determine this?
I kind of like the idea of having a newcomer because we can grow in the industry and they should have a bit more time on their hands (my guess, this of course could be absolutely false). But there is a kind of luster with having a power agent. In addition,it seems like some authors have one agent, then their book makes it big and they switch to a power agent, so there must be something behind that. Thank you for answering these questions.
(1) It's not shady at all. The trick is to make sure you only query agents you're willing to sign with. What will damage you badly (and you won't even know it) is if you email agents with "I have an offer" and then don't actually sign with anyone. Yes, we watch for that. Yes, we watch for that cause we've gotten burned in the past.
(2) I'm not sure I want to see "old head" become the designation for those of us who aren't newcomers, but that's a rant for a different day.
Agents with established relationships with editors do get things read faster, but I can garandamntee that our young agents here at New Leaf get their work read a whole lot faster than Agent Experience at BumfuckLLC does. No matter how long Agent Experience has been in business. A good agency name carries weight. Thus it's not just if the agent has experience or not; it's where they work you want to factor in as well.
(3) Well, if they worked for me they're probably headed to the New York Times Bestseller list soonishly. On the other hand none of those agents could be remotely thought of as newcomers now, so it doesn't really answer your question.
You want to look for passion and excitement for your project. You want to find out who's backstopping the young agent (ie who she's got on her team that's watching out for her.) And you want to ask what happens to you if the agent decides to hang up her hoverboard. That's a fair question to ask any agent, but you'll want to know for sure if you're one of her first clients.
As to how to tell: I wish I had the answer. Some great agents I know burned out. Some pretty crappy agents I know are still around. You're going to roll the dice here. Make sure you haven't burned any bridges in case you need to sound retreat at some point and hatch a new battle plan.