What are the Odds of Getting an Agent?

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-YphEyiADMm0/TeDr9DUHxyI/AAAAAAAAEfw/f7arliDv0nI/s320/Rolling-dice.jpg Dear Rachelle: You’ve blogged about how to write a good query letter, but what about the stage after a successful query, when several agents have requested partials or fulls? How many requested partials or fulls become clients? Could a dozen agents be interested enough to take a look, but none of them love it enough to take it on? What are the odds of getting an agent if you have a strong query? Here are my thoughts: I don’t know the percentage of requested partials and fulls that become clients, but I also think it’s irrelevant information. You can’t apply a generalized statistic to an individual, so stats would be meaningless. Plus, this is not a game based on “odds” because all the players are not equal. For example: about zero percent of writers...
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Difficult Conversations, Part 1

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-0YaVaAHtAQo/TdCRTyBYTpI/AAAAAAAAEfQ/p8D9PZAuXoY/s320/sad+dog+with+phone.jpg “This book isn’t going to work.” I know many of you worry that agents gossip about writers behind the scenes. I don’t find this to be true, but what I’ve found is that agents often commiserate with each other about the hard parts of the job (like people in any kind of job). And one of the hard parts is when we need to have a difficult conversation with an author. So this week in my never-ending quest to make you the most informed writers on the planet, I’m going to talk about some of those difficult conversations. I hope that by reading this, you’ll be better prepared and perhaps less devastated if (when?) it happens to you. Today’s difficult conversation is the one where you’ve written your “next” book—it could be your...
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What Will Agents Do in the Future?

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-vELaemx6KVk/TaPOQVzLjcI/AAAAAAAAEc4/cSEQAQS5pKY/s400/businessman+running+away.jpg In the midst of all the talk about the changes in publishing, the question often arises: What will the role of agents be in the future of publishing? I’ve received emails and blog comments from those who assume agents must be running scared because we’re going to be out of jobs soon. I’ve heard from others who insist I need to be changing my business right now and beginning to do things differently to reflect the changing landscape. But everyone I know who is a full-time dedicated agent with a full client roster is optimistic about the future. We’re well aware of the ways publishing is changing, and we’re confident we’ll be a part of that. Most of us have years of experience in publishing and have held other publishing positions prior to being agents—many have been...
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Why "No" Comes Quickly…

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-3rpHkPeBTfI/TZKsNDnP1nI/AAAAAAAAEcE/VA20MYxJWp8/s320/yes+no+maybe.jpg But “Yes” Seems to Take Forever For the last couple of days we’ve been going over some basics of fiction writing – things that someone editing your book might be looking for in their efforts to help you produce the best book possible. But acquisitions editors – and agents – won’t be spending time analyzing all those specifics. They’re going to to be assessing whether the book is right for them, and here’s how it works: If it’s a “no” they can discern it very quickly. Anything that isn’t a “no” becomes a “maybe” and is going to take a lot longer to make a decision. Sometimes it’s difficult to accept that agents and acquisition editors can make decisions almost...
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When An Agent Gives Up on a Project

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-fUmzUvdR-MM/TYl9AHmW4gI/AAAAAAAAEbw/1Of6Uh4xnSY/s320/white+flat.jpg As you know, agents aren’t able to sell every book we decide to represent. But the decision to stop trying to sell a book is always a tough one. We’ve already put a lot of work into it, we haven’t made a dime, and we may really like the client. When do we know it’s time to quit and move on? Here are a few reasons we might give up: 1. Out of OptionsWe’ve exhausted our list of editor contacts and don’t know of any more viable prospects among advance-and-royalty-paying publishers. 2. Poor ResponseThe general feedback from editors was negative or lackluster, and the project never even made it past the editor’s desk to the editorial meeting or the pub board. (As opposed to situations where editors loved it but couldn’t get it approved.) 3. Market ConcernsThe...
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When Multiple Agents Are Interested

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-mRuM-sOuAaA/TWsmr9AlNDI/AAAAAAAAEaA/4ifWqaAOJ2A/s320/women+kickboxing.jpg A writer asked:If there are two or more agents interested in representing me, how do I make my decision? I’ve heard it can be better in some cases for a less established author to go with a younger or newer agent — is this true? What other factors would you consider? If there are two or more agents interested in your work, you have a pretty good problem on your hands! You should approach this the way you’d approach any situation in which you’re going to “hire” someone. Let them know that you’re deciding between two or more agents. Then find out everything you can about each candidate and decide who seems like a better fit. First, a ConversationIt starts with talking to each of them on the phone. You’ll definitely want...
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When You’re Missing the Mark

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-xdPAdeSwfdQ/TVtWbgSBUSI/AAAAAAAAEZM/eAc9tTxe9PY/s320/target.jpg Katie asked: I was wondering, what if I get an agent and she tries to sell two or three of my novels, all in the same genre, and nothing sells. What would happen in this case? Well Katie, sounds like you and your agent will be at a crossroads and need to make some decisions. Each agent is different, and some agents might set you free at this point, believing they’re not the right agent to help you find success. You’ll want to clarify whether your agent wishes to continue or hang it up. Remember that you have a choice, too. If you think another agent can serve you better, it would be a good time for you to make this decision. Be cautious not to automatically blame your agent for the lack of a sale – she’s put in many hours on your behalf and hasn’t gotten paid...
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Fishing Lessons

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/TTNd4ogeMpI/AAAAAAAAEU4/YhT0W31UqcI/s320/fishing.jpg “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” ~Ancient ProverbI frequently receive emails from writers asking me if the process they’re experiencing is “normal.” Maybe they’re seeking an agent, and they’re in the midst of a convoluted and confusing process of agents requesting partials and taking forever to respond; other agents never responding to queries; perhaps an agent expressing interest but never following up. Sometimes the writers asking questions already have agents. They’re not necessarily looking to switch, but they’re having trouble communicating with their agent, or they’re confused by the process, and they want some advice. For whatever reason, it seems easier...
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The Agent-Client Relationship

If you’ve been reading my blog and other agent blogs for awhile, you’re aware that the agent-client relationship can be a wonderful, long-term, productive association, but like any important relationship, it’s not always easy. Sometimes it takes work to make it succeed. It has a better chance of working well if each of you has a bit of understanding of what it’s like on the other side of the table. So today I’m going to give you a few reminders that might help. Your agent……is not a mind reader. If you’re having an issue—if you feel the agent is inattentive, or you need more feedback or more frequent communication—it’s best if you let your agent know. They can’t fix a problem if they’re not aware of it. …has dozens of clients, while you have one...
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You Have an Offer From a Publisher…

But You Don’t Have an Agent There are numerous situations in which you may find yourself unagented but having an offer from a publisher. A nice situation, to be sure! It may happen because you met an editor face-to-face at a conference, or through a referral. In any case, at this point the question will always come up: Do I need an agent? I’ve addressed this on the blog before, and other blogs have also addressed the advantages of having an agent beyond simply selling your book to a publisher. Today I have a few new points to add. When an editor makes an offer, they may suggest you get an agent; some will say that they can’t go any further until you’re agented. These days, most publishers prefer to work through an agent, both for the protection of the author, and to...
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AgentFail

http://www.rachellegardner.com//HLIC/c3edcd0d0cdb9e44f9f481547f84a949.jpg Last week, my friend Wendy Lawton, an agent at Books & Such, wrote a series of posts that took a great deal of courage. She said a lot of things I’ve been trying to figure out how to say here on my own blog, but she did it first and said it better than I ever could have, so I’m going to do something unusual today and send you over there. Wendy’s topic for the week was #AgentFail – basically, looking at all the ways we agents don’t live up to our own expectations and hopes, not to mention those of all the writers out there. On Monday the topic was the idea that as agents, we’d love to be talent scouts and talent developers, but rarely have the time to function this way. On Tuesday, Wendy addressed Requested Material Limbo. You all know what that is...
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How to Fire Your Agent

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/ShwfMnkrjbI/AAAAAAAAC-M/SNRJyXO0Zyg/s200/Trump+You%27re+fired.jpg (Encore presentation of a previous post.)There comes a time in every agent’s life when one of their clients needs to move on. Yep. We all get fired by an author at some point. It isn’t pleasant, but it’s a reality in business. What are some reasons writers opt to terminate their agency relationship? I think four big ones top the list. (1) The writer believes they’re not getting enough attention; (2) the agent has dropped the ball too many times and the writer no longer trusts them; (3) the writer and agent disagree about the best plan for the writer’s career path; or (4) the writer finds out that the agent is doing something unethical or is somehow not a legitimate literary agent. Not to Be Taken Lightly Ending your agency relationship is a personal decision,...
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Reading for a Living

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/TLKK0a5pidI/AAAAAAAAEIM/ae1CR66BLBs/s320/a+woman+reading.jpg A Woman Reading by Claude Monet, 1872Everyone knows that agents and editors are reading practically all the time. We read queries and manuscripts of people hoping to secure representation, we read the manuscripts of our clients, and we read as many published books as possible – partly because we love reading, and partly because we need to stay on top of what’s happening in publishing. One of the most common things people say to us is, “Oh, I would LOVE to read for a living!” And yes, I admit, since reading is my favorite thing, I love that I get to read for a living. However, I have to admit that “reading for a living” is not as wonderful as it sounds. The main reason is that, like anything you’re doing for work as opposed to simply because you...
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Behind the Scenes… "The Call"

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/TJlUvhsmoNI/AAAAAAAAEF0/YNmNTH9SxW0/s200/phone-ringing.jpg Me: Hello, may I speak with New Author? New Author: Speaking. Me: Hi, this is Rachelle Gardner. How are you today? NA: I’m fine…wait…did you say Rachelle Gardner? Me: Yep. NA: This is Kelly, isn’t it. Ha ha, very funny, Kelly. Me: Um, no. It’s Rachelle. Would you rather speak with Kelly? NA: No! Uh-oh. Not Kelly? Um…oops? Me: No worries. I get that a lot. I’m calling because I really like your book and wanted to discuss representation. NA: Of me? I mean my book? Me: Yes, and yes. NA: Wow. This is so cool. I loved all the nice things you said in your email, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up. Me: I take it that means you’re open to talking about representation? NA: Absolutely. Me: Great! First, I’d like to make sure I’m clear on the status of the manuscript. It’s...
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