Wednesday, August 25, 2021

I live to the left of Mongolia*, should I be looking for an American agent?



I’ve just started to look for agents for my novel. Based in Austria (and I have to emphasize that this is not the country you’re likely to meet kangaroos) with ties to the US, I have researched agents in the US as well as the UK. Their requirements differ significantly! This is the picture I have after researching about 20-30 agencies and agents in each country:


US agents want query letters and, maybe, a few pages at first.


UK agents want cover letters (a totally different beast), a synopsis, and frequently also the first 20 or so pages.


Can you shed some light on why the requirements are so different? Does the publishing industry work differently in the two countries?



Not even a glimmer.

Query requirements aren't because the publishing industry is different.

It's a matter of taste and custom.


But I don't know enough about UK publishing to offer any opinion you should listen to.


My second question is: how much importance does geographic proximity still play these days? In other words, I am crazy to consider an agent based some 6000 miles from where I am?


I have clients who do live in the country where you're likely to meet kangaroos, and one where you're like to meet oil sheiks and veiled ladies.


And more than a few who live in their own world, somewhere off to the left of Pluto.



All of which means that as long as you can get money without me having to deliver it in dollar bills via jet pack, you're good.


Where you're going to run into glitches is promotion. Zoom presentations to book clubs at 7pm EDT may mean you need to look bright eyed and bushy tailed at 7am your time.



*I just like to include Mongolia in blog posts for fun.

I really do know where Austria is




Kitty said...

*I just like to include Mongolia in blog posts for fun.

Add Mongolia to the list of 'words for fun' which includes hooptedoodle and underpants.

Katja said...

Oooh, OP, you live in beautiful Austria 🇦🇹, how wonderful for you!

I'm glad you asked this question because I am planning on leaving the UK next year and returning to beautiful Switzerland 🇨🇭, and then I will also look to query my next novel with an English speaking agent.

So good to know that Switzerland never has a problem with accepting money, Janet. I'm sure this is true even if I lived in the high mountains of Graubünden or so. 😆

Dena Pawling said...

As soon as I read "Austria", my mind went to my all-time favorite movie. Then at the bottom of this post you included a link to ... that exact movie! My day is made. Guess what I'll be doing this weekend??! I can't wait.

Good luck with querying, OP.

AJ Blythe said...

As someone living with the kangaroos (and not just those loose in the top paddock) I'm also looking for an agent over the ocean. These days, with technology being what it is, I've never really thought location is that much of a problem.

The husband of a friend actually does work in outer Mongolia - he does (or did before you-know-what took over the world) fly-in, fly-out from Australia. His wife and kids are still able to stay in touch. There really is no-where on this planet anymore where you are out of touch (unless you are sitting in my sunroom... it must be the only blackspot left).

OP, I'm guessing you get as much confusion about Austria / Australia as those of us Down Under. Good luck with your time in the query trenches.

And Dena, I'm a little embarrassed to admit it, but I've never even heard of Hopscotch. I'm going to have to check out my streaming services and see if I can watch it.

Laura Stegman said...

Consider me fooled, Dena and Janet. I was sure the Austria movie link was going to show up as The Sound of Music, and I was all ready to break into song!

Beth Carpenter said...

Laura, me too! I was picturing the opening scene spinning in the mountain meadow. Now I have to find Hopscotch.

Good luck with your querying, OP.

Barbara Etlin said...

Now I'm going to have to buy Hopscotch! Such a great cast, and I'd never heard of this movie.

Reading Janet's blog is dangerous to my wallet. I'm now working my way (happily) through Lawrence Block's backlist that I missed...

Adele said...

I cannot find that link you mention! Still, I'm glad to hear a shout-out to "Hopscotch" which is one of my favourite movies, too. The little scene at the café started me on a lifelong admiration of Viennese pastry (with coffee, of course, to cut the richness).

Janet Reid said...

Adele if you click on "where Austria is" it should take you to Hopscotch.

Craig F said...

I live in a place that has enough other invasive animals that I might be watching kangaroos. We do have mail, banks and something called Amazon, which is way beyond Pluto.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Austria is lovely.

I do wonder and this is a question for the group/Janet. Would an American agent have a bigger pool of publishing houses and contacts than a British agent? Meaning, would it benefit an American to include British agents in their agent search? I am curious.

And feeling so, so spoiled. So many posts. So much information. I am giddy to the point of tears.

Timothy Lowe said...

Really glad you guyz pointed out the link. That movie looks hilarious. I've written a few things in a similar vein, and those jokes (and deliveries) were spot on. And, I know this will date me, but I've never seen Walter Matthau looking that young. He is one deadpan dude!

OP, I got nothin' for you, other than the fact that I too have been querying British agencies and had no idea a query letter and a covering letter were different. I guess that explains the crickets.

NLiu said...

Is a UK cover letter really a totally different beast from a US query? They seem to need to include the same things. I couldn't find anywhere online that clearly explained the difference when I was looking. Does anyone here know?

AJ Blythe said...

Sam Hawke has mentioned the difference here before I believe (she ended up with a UK agent). I'll see if I can find the post. If not, I'll ask her to jump in :)

AJ Blythe said...

Well, that was easier to find than I thought...

Back in 2016 Sam commented she had a query letter for the UK, but compared to the US, the UK version was more like a cover letter to be read with the synopsis.

I thought she went into more detail, but here's the link if anyone wants to read for themselves:

Leslie said...

Way back in elementary school - you know, prehistoric times - our teacher assigned each of us a country to research and do a presentation.

She managed to assign Austria to one of the not so diligent (to put it very kindly) kids and of course, he did a report on Australia. The kid who was assigned Australia was not happy