Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Advice from an Agent

I know I'm reposting this to death, but I don't want anyone debating the agent/publisher pursuit problem to miss this contrasting view -- check out literary agent Miriam Kriss's thoughts on if you need an publisher offer before you get an agent, posted in comments here.


  1. I have to say I’m with Miriam on this one – I wouldn’t be with the publisher I’m with if my book hadn’t come from an agent. HC don’t accept unsolicited at all. Period. And my agent is someone I have a lot of time and respect for too. Someone I consider a good friend, not just a bloke who punts out my books and wrangles with the contractual side of things.

    And he took me on before I had a deal. As Miriam says – “Any agent will take you on when there's money on the table, but only an agent who will really fight for you will take you on out of the slush.”

    Long live agents (well, my one anyway).

  2. Anonymous7:36 AM

    I'm with Stuart. I'd never sold a word before Ghosts, and Bantam doesn't read from the slush. My editor told me that my agent doesn't send her a lot, but what he does, she notices. I wouldn't be here without him. He's an awesome agent and a really cool guy, too.

  3. Anonymous7:47 AM

    Ditto. My agent took me on and represented my novel for me, and at least from discussions with agents in the Science Fiction/Fantasy field, most of them are willing to look at slush. I have handfuls of friends who got agents first. In fact today I should probably whip up a post about why I think writers should try agents first in SF/F than publishers...

  4. Anonymous1:56 PM

    PBW wrote: Now, after I wipe this egg off my face, can I coax you into telling us on average how many writers you take as clients from that slush pile?

    If we're defining slush as unsolicited, previously unpublished authors, I have six authors I found that way in the past year and I’ve already sold all but one of them. For some of them it took more than one project and the better part of that year but if I take you on it’s because I believe in your writing and I’ll stick with you until you do sell.

  5. Anonymous3:40 PM

    I posted 6 reasons why getting an agent first is probably a good idea over at my weblog.

  6. Anonymous12:30 AM

    Miriam wrote: If we're defining slush as unsolicited, previously unpublished authors, I have six authors I found that way in the past year and I’ve already sold all but one of them.

    Good for you. What happened to the one author who you weren't able to sell this past year? Are you still working on getting him/her into print? Also, what percentage of your total client list do these five represent?

  7. Anonymous3:03 PM

    Well I’ve only been doing this a bit over a year, so I’m still in that “baby agent” phrase described by Teresa Nielsen Hayden in her fabulous post “On the Getting of Agents”. I’m still working with the one unsold client I have among those whom I plucked from the slush pile and those clients make up a sizable chunk of my client list, though the balance is shifting as more people see who I am and what I can do (i.e. as more published authors decide I’d make a pretty spiffy choice for their agent). I was very fortunate that my boss, the amazing Irene Goodman, saw this potential from the beginning and didn’t make me play assistant before she let me take on clients. Since I did my first six figure deal within six months, I’d say this was a good call. My very first client, found through the slush pile, sold to her dream publisher and has her first book coming out next month (Scandalous by Jenna Petersen), so I imagine she’d say it was the right call as well.


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