Agents/reps... what have you been thinking after the webinar?
So after the webinar on agents (and even a bit before that) I've been thinking a lot about agents/reps. I thought Lee's slide on whether you're ready for one was super helpful, and I feel like I'm at least really close.
So I was wondering about my fellow SVSers--are you looking at agencies? Which are you looking at? Do you have a dream agent? Or If you already have one--why did you choose to sign on? What do you like/dislike about it?
I'm just starting to really look deeper so I'm curious what you're all thinking.
I think you are so ready Sarah. Your work is so clean and so professional. The webinar was awesome! I wish I had some information to offer, I am excited to see everyone's input.
Hey @Sarah-LuAnn - I've been thinking about agents a lot lately too. I guess ever since October '16 when I had a great pitch session with one and she asked me to submit to her. I haven't quite yet - at the conference I only had one PB manuscript (with dummy) and one MG graphic novel (with 5 example pages of artwork) ready. She said not to submit to her until I had at least two more PB manuscripts in addition to that. I actually have more than that now, but I'm just polishing them before submitting. Not just to her, but I'll do about 5 agents in my first round.
I don't have any one particular "dream agent" but there's a few whom already rep a number of illustrators/writers I admire so I'm considering submitting to them.
My checklist of things I'm looking for in an agent include:
- Someone who reps author-illustrators
- Who does multiple age categories - both PB and MG at least - YA perhaps down the line. Also who say in their wishlist they're open to the genre I write in (quirky/funny for PBs and fantasy/magical realism for MG).
- Who is quite editorial in their agenting style
And I'd like an agency who really specializes in kidlit. I've noticed there's ones who do all ages and they may be good and all, but when the majority of their client work on their site is all adult book covers, it makes me wonder... would they be as good as agents/agencies who only (or primarily) do kidlit?
How about you, do you have a dream agent? What are your thoughts so far?
I agree with @lmrush your work is beautiful and quite polished, so I think you're just about there too! BTW - you just do illustration, right? Or do you write too?
@lmrush Aw thanks. I've been putting lots of work into my portfolio so that means a lot :-)
@danettedraws I write and illustrate, but like you I only have one dummy plus a few manuscripts I'm polishing. So your checklist is pretty similar to mine--I want someone who reps author-illustrators and focuses on the children's market, since I have basically no interest in doing adult books. I'd like someone who would be willing to help me polish my stories, since I feel I'm stronger on the art side.
@Sarah-LuAnn Oh nice! So we're basically on the same wavelength :)
FYI, The agent whom I pitched in-person told me that I don't need a dummy for every one of my manuscripts. I'm not sure if that's her own preference or if that's the norm, but I'm glad for that. I now have 6 PB manuscripts and it would take me forever to do dummies for all of them before querying! I'm only doing dummies for 3 of them. Basically just the ones that make more sense with the illustration (otherwise they'd have too many art notes, and I know agents and editors don't necessarily like that!).
Yes, I'm working up a dummy book right now and then I'll be looking for a literary agent. I also have three other books written but not to dummy book stage yet. I'm going to try Stephen Fraser first because I loved what he had to say in the Children's book class on SVS. So, I guess that's the dream.
I think you are definitely ready and I would be surprised if you do not get immediate responses once you start querying - your work is beautiful! Very professional, great sense of design and a very diverse and interesting portfolio.
I have just signed up with a literary/illustration agent, although it was a bit different - she reached out to me. It was a combination of very fortunate factors that are not representative of either the quality of my work or the common experiences, but I can share why I decided to sign up with her (after all, it took nearly two months of discussions and research before we had a contract!).
The reasons I decided to take the chance were:
- The agency is internationally active, but the single agents are based in a specific country. My agent is based in NY and is one of two who cover the US. This works well for me, because I live in Central Europe but want to work on the Anglo Saxon market. So an agency that operates both in Europe and US is optimal for me: she can handle US contracts as well as European ones (by deferring to one of the Europe-based agents). These markets are VERY different, so it was important for me to have access to expertise on both grounds.
- For the same reason, they cover all children and YA book fairs, and look worldwide for potential buyers for their clients. I liked the wide scope (though maybe it is common, I do not know)
- I reached out to three illustrators on their client list and they were overall positive about working with the agency (one was enthusiastic, one was overall positive, one had just left them but was neutral rather than negative about the experience).
- I liked the agent personally and found her relatable and competent;
- Their client list is not too big and not too small (about 20 illustrators and 50 or so writers). The illustrators style is relatively diverse but they all belong somehow in the same "family" - I mean they are all clearly children illustrators, all about the same level (as far as I can judge), and none of them in the "primitive style" category. So my style definitely fits with them while being different enough;
- It is a literary agency but they also represent pure illustrators. So they like it if you have a book dummy but it was not a requirement - they mediate their clients as pure illustrators as well. If you have a book dummy they will help you make it saleable though (she has already helped a lot with mine).
- From the conversations I had, I got the feeling my agent is really more interested in supporting long-term career and development rather than in quick returns.This is also one of the reasons she actively looks for new people.
- Being a literary agency it charges the wonderfully small 15% of literary agency and not the 30-35% of illustration agencies.
- They represent illustrators exclusively for picture books. They do have the YA part for writers though.
- Their history of deals seems quite good.
- The head office was quick, clear and friendly in answering my questions when I wrote to them (without involving my agent).
- You can do your own marketing, though they ask you to coordinate with them (so that they do not contact the same people with the same materials).
- I reasoned that if she reached out to me is because she really likes my style. This makes me hope that she is invested in its success.
Some negative/critical points:
- They only represent for picture books. So if I want to do magazine work or advertisement or anything else, it is completely my problem. They say they can step in but it is out of the contract, so I have to specifically ask them.
- From the feedback I got from the other illustrators, it seems they are more successful in representing authors/illustrators rather than pure illustrators.
So far, so good. It is too early to know if it works out or not, but I have to say it is nice to know that there is somebody else out there who has a vested interest in your success. For everything else, time will tell!
@evilrobot I queried an agent FAR too soon (over two years ago now) with my book dummy and that was Stephen Fraser. I had a really great experience though, receiving the best rejection you could possibly get. He got back to me within a day of my initial email and gave me personal feedback (not just a form letter). He was quite complimentary of my illustration, but my writing was quite lacking back then and told me specific things that weren't working about my story. It was incredibly helpful and I was blown away by him taking the time like that. Now, I don't know if he always has the time to respond (likely not!) - let alone so timely like that - but I just wanted to mention I got a really great impression from him because of that experience. Good luck when you query him! :)
Great summary @smceccarelli! One thing I hadn't thought about is being able to have an agent that dips in to both the US and European markets. That certainly would be a huge advantage! You're opening yourself up to so much more opportunity then I would think.
@Sarah-LuAnn I agree with everyone that your work is very strong and professional. I think the main question will be regarding what kind of agent you want, and what kind of work you hope to get. I submitted a few times (including to Stephen Frasier) before I had a really solid book dummy with example illustrations worked out. Based on the responses I got at the time, the message was fairly clear: "You're a strong artist, but show us your storytelling abilities."
It wasn't until I worked out a dummy and accompanying illustrations that I found representation with Andrea Brown Lit Agency (and I had submitted to them before too!)
I was only applying at literary agencies that represented author/illustrators and from what I can gather, you're more likely to get signed with a literary agency as an author/illustrator with a project to sell and then also put out as an stand alone illustrator. Maybe I'm wrong on that, but it seems that my agency works this way.
Haha, thanks everyone for all the votes of confidence, but I guess I should have said that I wasn't just wanting everyone to give just ME advice and encouragement. I was kind of thinking this thread could have more general information for anybody who might be thinking of looking at agents right now. Though I definitely appreciate everyones kind words :-)
This is a really interesting thread! Thanks @Sarah-LuAnn for starting it off and for all the great responses :-)
I am interested in finding an agent, though right now I want to give myself a bit more time to make sure I have a consistent body of work together that shows a good upwards direction. I had agent feedback in Nov 16 to the effect that I was nearly there, I just needed to work on a few things ...so I'm currently in the 'working on it' phase.
Then, to decide which one/which type....this is tricky, because I'd like to do children's books, but I also have a library of (successful) surface pattern design that would work well outside of craft papers. I do work with an agency already where our business licences designs from them (for stamps) - actually I had a chat with them today as we're all currently in Frankfurt for a trade show (covering both craft products and paper/stationery/gift products including a designer/licensing area)...which has been really interesting overall, to see the trends, and also to see how surface pattern designers present themselves at a trade show.
So overall, I don't know yet - lol vague I know, but I have learnt from all this that it doesn't seem a quick thing...like starting out a relationship - what kind do you want - are they interested, are you interested, - which deal is on the table, what direction do you both want to go in....all questions that have to be answered by more than one person. So I'm going to take more time to think about it, and to develop my art, and maybe 6-12 months down the line I'll have a better idea :-)
I'm sorry I missed it. is there a link where we can watch or listen to it again?
@audrey-dowling Hi Audrey, if you were referring to the third Thursday agent webinar, I was looking for it as well and Rich Green shared it with me in a previous thread- this is the link https://youtu.be/hYtX-GTcRyI enjoy!
I am not ready personally. Tons of great info to process. Definitely a video I will revisit sooner rather than later.
I was kind of turned off by the interview I don't think I'd like to have a strictly art rep. I'd rather try with a literary agent who handles writers and artists. I really just want to tell my stories.
@lmrush Thanks for the link! I'll want to re-watch it.
@evilrobot I also feel like I'd rather go for a literary agent rather than an art rep... which is different from what I thought a couple years ago! I've started writing my own stories and found I really enjoy it.
I bought the book mentioned in the Webinar, the Guide to Literary Agents 2017, and with it comes a membership to WritersMarket.com. I'm just now dipping my toes into both, but wow! AWESOME resources. If the mention in the webinar wasn't enough, I'm just going to bring it up again to say that if anyone else is at the point I am at (starting to research agents to maybe start submtting/querying soon) its a great book to get your hands on.
@Sarah-LuAnn Hi Sarah I just bought the book as well how do we get the membership?
Inside the book there is a code and instructions on how to get access.
thanks @lmrush !