I sent samples to a couple agencies and was contacted by one the very next day. That was surprising bc they all say they take 6 to 8 weeks for a response. I don't want to say which once publicly but if anyone wants to PM me ill say there. They asked for more samples and then quickly sent me a contract. No personal contact from a specific agent. It just feels off. They weren't my first choice but their site didn't set off any alarm bells. Any advice on this would be really appreciated! One artist I follow on twitter is repped by them and I could message her about her experience.
@Lydia-M That certainly DOES sound suspicious! Especially since you haven't had personal contact with an agent directly before they sent a contract your way. I understand that an industry-standard thing when acquiring an agent is having what they refer to as "The Call" - where you speak over the phone (or Skype sometimes) to the interested agent in length to make sure you're both a fit for each other. They ask you questions, you ask questions in return. THEN you determine from that whether you'll move forward with a contract.
Since you know an artist repped by them whom you can ask, I'd say most definitely do that first and foremost! I'm very interested to know how this works out and the name of the agency...
I wonder, maybe they have one or a number of brand-new agents at their company? If that's the case, they may be eager to take on a number of clients straight away to build their list. But that's not a strategic way of going about things. Both parties need to make sure you'll be a good fit for one another first.
Best of luck Lydia!
Your work is beautiful so I'm not surprised someone wants to rep you...but it does sound like a strange situation. I would contact that other artist and get a feel for them before going forward, but don't write it off until you know for sure. Could be a great opportunity.
Thank you. I feel so nervous and dumb and I really would kick myself if I let this go. The contract looks pretty standard and they haven't asked for money. They did ask that I share in the cost of advertising. Really, I expected to be rejected over and over because that's all I hear about. At this point I don't feel confident signing because there's been no one on one conversation.
@Lydia-M Hey Lydia - I try not to @ the instructors too much but I think in this case I would @Lee-White - be great to get his opinion - I am not surprised someone would scoop you up right away - Danette's post did make sense to me though - good luck to you and possibly Congratulations!
@Lydia-M Your work is beautiful! I'm sure that this is not the only offer you will get. "Sharing the cost of advertising" is VERY suspicious. Every agent I've talked to says a good agency will not ask for ANY money.
@Lydia-M I would like to chime in again to agree with everyone else - your work is fabulous so you could very well land an agent! I should've mentioned it sooner rather than being all negative-nancy. Because you definitely should feel confident in that and certainly not feel dumb by any means! And anyone who hasn't signed on with an agent before will have questions, because of course it's new to you. Again I go back to why they do "The Call" so that both parties will have all their questions answered before moving forward.
I do still think that this one in particular sounds suspicious, and I'm a firm believer in going with your gut. The 'sharing in the cost of advertising' thing is also a red flag. I think agents may still want you to send out your own postcards for example, but they shouldn't ask you to pitch in money for whatever advertising THEY initiate.
Good call on tagging Lee in this one, I'd really love to hear what he has to say as well! :)
...They did ask that I share in the cost of advertising. ...
Agree with others: this is ringing bells like Christmas day morning.
Thank you all for your help with this and for the compliments! @DanetteDraws I didn't think you were being a negative nancy. Thank you @Kevin-Longueil for tagging Lee. I emailed the contact yesterday with questions. The answers didn't really put me at ease.
My hope was that I would someday have an agent, someone I know by name, who I could work with. That wouldn't happen here. The advertising I'm still fuzzy on. There Is no set amount but I'd have to accept one ad opportunity at some point during the year.
I thought I was set but obviously I needed to do more research before diving in. Lesson learned. I guess I felt that I had been putting it off and just wanted to see what would happen. Only 2 agencies were contacted so it's not like I went crazy and sent it to everyone.
My head really hurts though because I'm so stressed thinking that maybe I'm blowing my own opportunity and every other agency would reject me? BUT if I go for it then I'm locked in.
I don't have any expert knowledge on getting an agent (I'll tag @Charlie-Eve-Ryan and @natiwata though, as they both recently acquired agents, would be great to hear their take as well as Lee's...)...but I'll give my own reaction anyway - I think it sounds dodgy too.
I would have expected, if you're starting out on any important business relationship, that you get to know each other a little bit as people before you sign. Having "The Call" as others describe sounds sensible, and even if they're making first contact via email, at the very least I'd expect it to be from a specific person and to include a sentence like 'if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call me on XYZ number' ....adding that to the 'share in the cost of advertising'..and yeah that gives lots of red flags. But hopefully someone with more personal experience will chime in...
But finally, don't be disheartened IF this doesn't work out - as others have said your work is really lovely and I'm sure you will find the right agent sooner rather than later. I would have thought it much better to find an agent who is right for you, who understands you, and is well-placed to find you work that you're suited for...I imagine it might take more time that way, but worth it in the long run.
I would definitely want to have a phone conversation with a specific agent. Maybe it happens, but I've never heard of someone being represented by an agency but not an agent. I've also not heard of a legitimate agency asking an author to share in advertising costs. I'm not even sure what that would be? My agent's primary focus has been getting my book dummies in front of the right editors. They are planning an email blast to introduce me to all of their publishing contacts as well, but there's no cost associated with that outside of time.
I'd be happy to PM with you if that would help. Maybe I know the agency, or could ask my agent at Andrea Brown her opinion.
Thanks everyone for chiming in on this. The cost of advertising part really got me. I know some of those sourcebooks or web portal spots are pricey and right now I'm pretty much living paycheck to paycheck. I work a part time job, haven't had any freelance work since April, and my husband is in school full time. (Not a boo-hoo, just for real... I have no money!) The other thing is the speed at which this happened. I sent my stuff Sunday, Monday morning I had a response asking for more samples. The email made it sound as though it would be reviewed and they'd get back to me with a decision. Not 5 minutes after I sent more samples (low res of course) I was told to expect a proposal. Got the contract in an email the following morning. Wha....???
It didn't seem right to sign a contract with so little information.
@Lydia-M Thanks for sharing the name of the agency with me privately - I've taken a look at their website and on second thought, I do think they're actually legit, but a different type of agency than I was expecting (I thought we were talking about a literary agent - I shouldn't have assumed!).
In general, there's 3 types of agents you can sign on with:
Illustration/Design agency: Deals with more commercial or editorial work (primarily, but can venture into other areas too).
Children’s Illustration agency: Deals with children focused illustration work, including educational and trade.
Literary agency: Deals with writers and writer/illustrators and now more seem to be signing on clients who're JUST illustrators too (although not all will take on someone who doesn't write or write/illustrate).
The one you contacted is most definitely an Illustration/Design agency. They seem to dabble in a little of everything actually - commercial, editorial, licensing, animation, storyboarding, publishing, etc. Which tells me they're not specialized in any one area, but they'll take whatever work and type of client they can get. There's also a heck of a lot of illustrators listed as clients, and 143 staff members! Now that I took a look at their website, I'm SO not surprised that you got a contract so quick and not from any one agent in particular. Here's why - they want to cast a wide net. Take on any illustrator they think is decent, see if they can get them work. There likely won't ever be a single agent at an agency like this one that's "assigned" to you - just whomever has a job on their desk and would like you to take it on will be the one to contact you at any given time. This also means you will never receive guidance on your career and you may get work that isn't really the direction you were hoping to be headed, because you don't get that individual attention. I also hear that agencies like these take on so many clients, more than they have work for, and then whomever seems to be popular with their clients and get the work, those are the ones they'll give attention to (and those who don't hardly will hear from them). Keep in mind too that I think this type of agency takes the biggest cut of pay (up to 35%) and have some of the tightest contracts (hard to get out of!). Literary agents I think take somewhere more around 15%.
Maybe this type of agency will work for you though, who am I to say? Everyone is different. If you're looking to do a very wide variety of projects and don't really care what market they're for, then an illustration/design agency might be the way to go.
I'm not trying to give advice at all - but my take is, if you'd like to do children's books, educational, maybe a bit of licensing, then a children's illustration agency would be better. OR - if you ONLY want to do children's books (especially if one day you would like to dabble in writing as well), then I'd consider a literary agent. I think either of those other two types would be the type where you'd have an actual agent whom you'd work with, mold your career trajectory together and actually develop a relationship.
If you look back through Will Terry's youtube videos, I know for a fact he's done a few really great videos on his experience working with an illustration/design agency early on is his career. I'd recommend watching for sure! He had a terrible experience himself, but because he got out of signing the contract somehow he was able to drop the agency - and he talks about others who were not so fortunate.
I'm glad you followed your gut on this one! As I said though, I do believe they're legit now, but they may not be the agency for you. It sounds to me like you're expecting a one-on-one relationship with an individual agent, so like I said, the other two types of agencies might be a better fit for you. I hope this has helped in some small way!
Thanks @DanetteDraws . Hmmmmm :\ I still have a strange feeling about it. I know they're legit but I don't like the way it happened.
My goal is to be an illustrator, not an author/illustrator. It seems like a lot of information out there is for people who want the latter. Even SCBWI is very heavy on the info for writers. The rep/literary agent confusion is real.
My husband still wants me to call this place and talk to a person but it's been a week and my heart just wants to move on.
If you are not at ease about them, even if they are legit, either sign with them for a specific amount of time and see how it goes or simply move on. It's your artwork and you have to feel and ease and have confidence in who you are partnering with.