Agency Advice (East West Literary)

  • Hey everyone, someone from the East West Literary Agency just reached out to me after seeing my work in the SCBWI portfolio showcase. I was thrilled at first but looking at their website, I feel that it doesn't look the most professional or well designed in my opinion. There are multiple clashing typefaces, the graphics take up less than half of my monitor screen, etc.

    The illustrators are listed by name. Once the name is clicked on, it shows a photo of their face, and then after clicking on "More Details" it finally shows very tiny thumbnail images of their work that you can't zoom in on. Doesn't seem like the best way for potential clients to see what the artists have to offer.

    So at first glance, I'm not convinced that this agency could get me much work from their website, but I don't know much about them in general. But I'm currently looking for representation and I'm wondering if they might still be able to get me more work through connections than I would be able to get myself. I was wondering if anyone here had any experience with this agency or any advice for this situation?

  • I think there's nothing wrong with following your gut and using your best discernment, especially on these types of matters. I will say, it seems like their website is clunky and poorly designed (and full of typos) but they also claim to have Pete The Cat creators, Kimberly and James Dean, under their belt. It seems like a real toss-up for sure. I have no doubt you'll make the right choice.

  • Pro

    @Melanie-Ortins I agree their website looks way outdated and not the best to navigate. However, it's very likely that this agency does not use their website as their main method of getting work for their artists. They probably have a network of clients and publishers who go to them, attend events, print books and pamphlets featuring their artists' work to send out, have an email newsletter, etc. So while the website grievance is certainly to take into consideration, if I were you I would ask them follow up questions including "What are the methods you use to promote your illustrators' work?" to get a better picture of how they operate before you make your decision. No matter what you decide, congrats on being approached by an agent, that's no small feat so do celebrate it! 😃

  • @CaseyKinseyArt @NessIllustration Thanks!

    I know that the website is probably not their main way to get work, but a bad website in 2020 is still a red flag for me, because it's not hard to set up a good one. That being said, I think you're right that it doesn't hurt to follow up and ask additional questions. Any other questions you think I should ask? I'm still new at agent-y stuff haha

  • @Melanie-Ortins I had the same problem when i was looking for agents. If they had a website like this I just moved on. If I were a client I'd be pretty turned off by the presentation (at least for the illustrators).

  • @Braden-Hallett I agree and that's why I'm very hesitant...

    At the same time, I'm working full time now and haven't had much opportunity to get my own freelance jobs so if this brings in even a few contracts, it's better than nothing. And if the experience doesn't work out, I assume that I should be able to leave the agency and hopefully find another one

    If I saw this website, I wouldn't apply to this agency. But since they reached out to me and I've been hoping to find representation for a while, I feel weird about saying no without even following up.

  • Pro

    @Melanie-Ortins A website is certainly very important, in fact my agency Astound Us has what I thought is a pretty good website yet they're currently spending 120k to give it a complete revamp. It's not overreacting to be turned off by an outdated website. On the other hand, if you currently work full-time in another field and haven't had many freelance contracts, this could be a good opportunity to dip your toes in and get a bit of experience, even if a partnership with this agency doesn't last a lifetime. I myself left my first agent after about 8 months to sign with my current agent.

  • @Melanie-Ortins said in Agency Advice (East West Literary):

    But since they reached out to me

    Ahhhhh. That changes things a bit. I'd at the very least hear them out and see what kind of contract they offer you. You can always say 'no' even after seeing the contract terms.

  • I emailed a couple of artists currently represented by that agent to hear their thoughts. And I'm going to come up with some questions that I want to follow up with and see how it goes

  • Pro

    @Melanie-Ortins Braden brings a good point also: that since they reached out to you, you're in a favorable position to negotiate some very advantageous contract terms 🙂 After you ask all the details if there's something you don't like, feel free to press them on those and ask to change them, as you are in a great position to press your luck 😉

  • @NessIllustration Good point! I'll have to do some research too though since this is not really my area of expertise. One of the reasons I want an agent is so they can sort out the contract stuff for me! 😂

  • SVS OG

    @Melanie-Ortins Hi! first of all, congratulations! I think a great way to gage an agency's performance and treatment of its artists is by asking the artists they represent. Search their illustrators and message them about their experience, how the agents treated them, how much jobs they got from the agency, whether they would recommend the agency to other artists, etc.

  • @Nyrryl-Cadiz Just did this and heard back from one artist immediately saying she's had a good experience (but also that it's her first agent so she has nothing to compare it to). She said that it was slow at first but she's getting more work now. I followed up asking how long she's been represented and stuff so we'll see!

  • SVS OG

    @Melanie-Ortins sounds good! If you choose to sign with this agent and it doesn't work out, you can always part ways and find another one.

  • @Nyrryl-Cadiz That's what I've been thinking too

  • Hi @Melanie-Ortins, yes, their website is a bit outdated; however, I wouldn’t dismiss them based on that sole reason.

    Personally, I suggest you interview with them and discuss opportunities and potential client work. You might even politely slip in feedback on the website.

    They represent Newberry winner Kwame Alexander and James Dean (Pete the Cat series)!

    This might be an opportunity of a lifetime.

  • @Jeremy-Ross True! I'm definitely going to follow up with them and find out a bit more.

    It does seem like they mostly represent authors and author/illustrators though, so they might be more specialized in pitching full book ideas, and my writing skills are not quite up to par with my illustrations yet! For now, I'd prefer to just illustrate other people's books haha

  • Sounds good @Melanie-Ortins! Forgot to say congratulations for being contacted! Love your work!

  • @Jeremy-Ross Thanks!

  • Great News!

    Here's the 2019 data I have when I was doing agent research. Deborah Warren seems to be good in terms of sales. But keep in mind their approaches of working with client is important too.

    Deborah Warren (East-West Agency)
    14 deals in this category in the last 12 months | 6 in the last 6 months | 60 overall | 3 six-figure+ deals

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