Next 3rd Thursday: Agents

  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    Hey guys,

    Our next third thusday will be on the topic of agents. What questions do you guys have regarding this topic? I'll try to include them in the webinar.


  • @Lee-White Definitely interested in this subject... The biggest question is who needs an agent and when?

    It seems to depend on what industry you are running in and trying to get work in,... purely outsider observation, but it seems that in some industries there is a great need for a go-between to get in front of and through the gatekeepers, while other industries it's relatively easy to get the direct attention of art directors/hiring contacts.

  • @Lee-White Ooohh, great topic!

    A few things come to mind:

    • The types of agents there are and who they'd best represent (how to determine which type of agent you should approach based on your own strengths and overall goals)
    • The types of questions you'd be asked in "The Call". Also, what questions you should ask the agent in order to determine if they'd be a good fit for YOU.
    • How much work and what types of work you should have ready before you approach an agent (I've been told by one agent that I pitched at a conference that I should have - as both an illustrator and writer - 3 picture book manuscripts ready in addition to my middle grade graphic novel manuscript, in addition to my portfolio, and she was only actually interested in ONE full dummy done on one of my PBs and said the other manuscripts don't need a dummy because she could sell them with my portfolio being the foundation for showing my style/capabilities. Is this the norm?).
    • What are realistic expectations of what working with an agent will be like.

  • Such a great topic!

    I want to know if there are any known industry rules of what not to do when approaching an agent that are just understood but not really written down..

    Are there agents that we might not want to work with? Not asking for names, but more so wondering if there is such a thing as an agent who is unrealistic, or maybe they are full of it. Idk if this is even possible, I just rather know if this sorta thing exists so I can avoid at all costs.

    What is the relationship like between an illustrator and an agent? How often do you hear from them, and should we be keeping in contact a much as possible, or just let them hit us up when they have something?

    How do I prepare to get an agent? What should I have, and when do I know I have what it takes to fuflill my side of the deal artistically? I am the type of person who loves to practice, and worry I am never ready to take the next step. I tend to be very hard on myself, and never accept my work as good enough, which helps me motivate myself to get better, but it also works against me in thinking I am ready to take the plunge.

    Anywho, thanks, Lee!

  • Pro SVS OG

    For me the big question is mutual expectations - what should you expect an agent to do for you, what is a nice-to-have. What expectations does the agent have on you (apart from the obvious one: being able to finish projects to a consistent level of quality and on time).

    And also (though this is maybe a too specific one) the new scene of literary agents representing also illustrators.

    I did not mention this elsewhere (and maybe this is not the right place) but I have just signed up with a literary agency that also represents illustrators. The probably very unusual part is that they have reached out to me after seeing my work on social media. This was so different from all I had heard so far, that I took a whole month to look into it - the record of the agency, who they represent, the curriculum of the specific agent that reached out to me. I reached out to three illustrators they represent and got their feedback (overall positive). I had two 1-hour long calls with the agent and some contacts with the head office. After all this research and interaction, I felt very comfortable giving it a try. The setup is not the one traditionally described in books and forums, but it has been mentioned by Will Terry in one of his videos as increasingly popular. For me it has a lot of advantages and some drawbacks and I would be curious to hear more about this particular type of working relationship.

  • @smceccarelli so happy for you! Though I am not surprised that you were sought out. Your work is really good. Keep us updated!

  • @smceccarelli Congratulations!

  • SVS OG

    @smceccarelli Congratulations Simona! That is so great!

  • SVS OG

    @smceccarelli Ditto with the others: A warm & joyful congratulations!

  • SVS OG

    @Lee-White Thank you for this topic being addressed.

    In addition to the many great interests others have noted above, it would be good to hear of the downsides to having an agent. I know @Will-Terry has some great thoughts about this, particularly in regards to contractual constraints & obligations. It would be good to get other issues to consider as well. Plus, a checklist of what to look out for and guidance on how to resolve these potential issues (hopefully before they become a contracted issue!).

    I’m interested in thoughts on having multiple agents (e.g. one agent for publishing/gaming/etc. work and one agent for advertising/editorial/etc. work); whether that is possible, advisable, and what issues to prepare for.

    I think that the key issues for me are:

    1. When am I ready & when should I seek an agent (I copy/pasted some of your advice on this from a previous post below)

    2. With so many agents, how do I best filter out which are best for me (and how do I even find the “right” agents when there are so many out there - It’s easy to know about Shannon Associates or Andrea Brown Lit, but there are many small-to-mid agencies that might not so readily visible) (Large agencies like Shannon Associates or Bright Agency builds confidence over their capabilities, industry relationships, professionalism, & “trustworthiness”; however, this also drives questions as to the attention they give to representing each artist specifically/intimately, so how do I determine whether a large agency or small agency/individual is best for me?)

    3. What are the pros/cons, mutual expectations, contractual & other issues to consider & prepare for, etc. (one point to cover would be on contract dissolution should the illustrator seek to move on to another agent or not being represented at all - including any expectations of client engagement restrictions and continued payout to agents post-contract-dissolution)

    4. What is the illustrator-agent-client engagement process (e.g. marketing, RFP & negotiations/end-client contracts, agent/illustrator Account Executive duties (account management), agent workflow involvement, billing, taxes, conflict resolution (including typical litigation/arbitration responsibilities & expectations), etc.)

    Since I’m assuming that you will likely be recording this, I’d expect that you wouldn’t want to be so negative on or give too much endorsement of specific reps, but it would be nice to have some agents or resource lists identified with any commentary possible.

    Just making note here, but in a previous post >>, @Lee-White, you mentioned to another person on here:

    1. There is no reason to submit until you get the kinks worked out of your portfolio. To submit too early "just to see what happens" wastes the agents time and makes it seem like you don't know what they are looking for. Agents want people who are profitable out of the gate for them OR they see a huge potential with their work and are willing to get it to that next level. Those artists are typically at about 90% entry level and just need a few slight tweaks to be industry ready. Or, the work is already pro level and they just need to be introduced to the right people.

    2. Submitting too early will give the art director an impression of you that may not be changeable as time moves on. (first impressions are strong!). You want that first impression to be "OMG! this artist is awesome!" Not "eh, it's ok, but they need polishing".

    Hang in there and really figure out where you want your work to go. Sit with it and take time with it. It will develop naturally and you will know when you are ready. Signs that you are ready are things like:

    • You are winning contests that you enter.
    • you are getting scholarships for your work
    • people are asking to buy your work
    • you are being contacted for interviews or artist spotlights, etc.
    • people are wanting to hire you
    • experienced people (like me, will, jake, or your instructors) are telling you to get your work out there or introducing you to connections
    If none of these things are happening, you probably aren't ready yet.


  • Pro SVS OG

    @smceccarelli Congratulations!

  • Pro SVS OG

    Maybe you could let us know "how you know when you are ready for an agent" Thanks @Lee-White

  • @smceccarelli Congratulations!

  • Pro SVS OG

    @smceccarelli Congrats!! I had an agent with a good reputation reach out to me on LinkedIn. I ended up signing with ABLA instead but it does happen. 😃 This is why it is good to have an online portfolio and to share your work online, you never know who is looking.

  • @Lee-White said in Next 3rd Thursday: Agents:

    Hey guys,

    Our next third thusday will be on the topic of agents. What questions do you guys have regarding this topic? I'll try to include them in the webinar.


    I recently listened to a topic about this and I was left with this question:
    Would any agent be interested in reping a part-part time illustrator? Or would I just be wasting his/her time?

    That is, I have a full time job plus 4 small kids. I could maybe do a couple small projects a year but there are certain really busy times when it wouldn't work out. Would it be at all feasible to have an agent constantly searching for work for me (showing my portfolio, etc) and I'd be turning down 80% of the work?
    Should I just continue on my own until such a time where I do have more time to take on projects?

    I bet I'm not the only one thinking about this issue but I've not yet been able to get a good answer on it.

  • Pro SVS OG

    @mattramsey I have a 50% job and 2 small kids and I have been completely transparent about this when talking with the agent that is now representing me. It did not seem to be a matter of concern at all - indeed it was not even a topic. At the end of the day it is a business relationship - the agent is doing a service for you and you are paying him/her. Since her pay depends on the amount of work you can get done, she needs to balance the amount of effort she invests vs the return she gets. I got the feeling that agents are more concerned with artists not performing on a project they agreed to (which affects their reputation as agents) rather than artists turning down projects.
    Actually what is happening to me now is that my agent is advising against taking a project I have procured because the terms are not good enough. So she is actually suggesting I turn down a job, although she would get money from it and did only very limited work. I find this to be a very good start, actually!

  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    @mattramsey that is an excellent question. I am hoping to have my agent there with us during the session, so I can ask about that.

    If I were to answer it, I'd say it would be a tough sell to sign a part time illustrator. When an artist turns down work it can get frustrating for a client and if they are turning down 80% of the jobs offered, it could be a strained relationship. The x factor there is that if you are good enough, an agent will still probably sign you. It's based on two factors, the first obviously being money and how much an agent can make from you. But the other thing is reputation. If you work looks good on an agents site and bumps up their status, it can be a good thing. Then when a client comes for you and you can't do it, the agent should be able to redirect the client to someone else on their roster. This happened a lot at Shannon Associates which was my first agent.

    Thanks for all your questions guys, keep em' coming! Also, if anyone is at the point of needing or wanting a rep (be serious here), please post a link to your website. I may have my agent critique some of the work from an agents perspective.

  • SVS OG

    @Lee-White - Hi Lee, I am hoping that my quality of work is at or getting close to the level of something that an agent might consider worthy of representing. I would love some feedback/critique from your agent if time allows. My site for your consideration is:

  • SVS OG

    @Lee-White Wow! I'd love to have an agent's perspective on where I'm at now. I have received some professional advice and thus have some work I intend to do in the 1st Quarter (maybe 2nd too), but I would like to be shopping myself in 2017 sometime (probably less to Picture Book right now and more to Middle Grade / Young Adult as well as packaging & product imprints, marketing & editorial).

    My site is at:

  • @Lee-White Thanks Lee, I'm not sure at what stage someone's portfolio is ready. I'm sure I need to add more to mine, but I would love a review from someone in the know. I am definitely going to be looking for representation in 2017. My web page link is

Log in to reply