Sunday, February 13, 2011

Agent Life Update

OK, so I've been working two jobs for two and a half years. And I've been doing a pretty good job of balancing the responsibilities of both.

I have four agents working for me, and a website ( that gives writers a very detailed description of what we're all looking for. And I have personally stopped taking on new clients (unless, of course, Stephen King begs me), so I can focus on guiding my junior agents. We have broadened the scope of the agency as well. We have an ebook only agent who is kicking ass (and can really guide writers on that part of their careers) and we've starting selling children's books (Louise Fury just sold a children's picture book to Random House), not just young adult and middle grade fiction.

I go over every book that is submitted under my agency name with my junior agents. We do contracts together, so every contract gets my years of agenting expertise (and boilerplate). So I find it a little surprising that writers seem disappointed that I am no longer taking on new clients. Even if I wasn't running a publishing company ( now publishes about 200 books a year, and I personally edit 50 of them, and oversee a staff of five), I would probably only take on a handful of new clients a year. By running the agency and supervising, I (we) can launch many more new careers and resurrect old ones. The odds are actually much better for the unpublished writer here now.

But we are swamped. It staggers the imagination to see how many queries we get. An agent's life is not all about queries, especially now that it takes longer for editors to get approval on purchases (I have a book by a NY Times best selling author who has sold over 400,000 copies in hardcover that I have been waiting on an offer for for over 9 months), we can submit a finite amount. It makes no sense to have five horror first novels piled up with the same editor.


Emma Butler said...

Congratulations on getting Agent of the Year! I didn't know you yourself weren't taking on new clients but your post just explained it beautifully. I'd accept Stephen King too! I currently have a query with your agency and have received invaluable help, advice and contacts. If that's what happens with your lovely agents and you supervising them, you're doing an amazing job.

Hosted BES said...

Congratulations for the success!

Franny Armstrong said...

Lori, it was wonderful to meet you at the Romantic Times Booklover's Convention! I look forward to chatting with you again soon.
Franny Armstrong
PNG-StockPics dot com and ParaNovelGirl dot com

Tim Greaton said...

Hi, Lori. I hope all is well. I didn't see a "follow" button to follow your blog. I'd love to if you'd explain how :-)

Nook on Sale said...

Interesting insight on the life of an agent. And congratulations on your success.

Kynelle Harris said...

Most websites that discuss the query process suggest a sweet and tight pitch, but most writers wrestle forever to get it down, until this trick I found. Feel free to post this on the L. Perkins website, in place of "A brief synopsis":
"An overview of no more than 240 characters."
I used a Facebook function, Share, to share mine for OTHERS, and I went nuts fast, trying to hone it down. When I finally did--and it took only minutes--this is what I got:
"Ky exposes a vigilante organization that brought uneasy world peace. Her newspaper column triggers controversy and deadly envy in four people important in her life: a failing movie producer, a restless radio talk-show host, her underachieving roommate, and her spider-like boyfriend. And, to solve her bashfulness with boys that formed her career--and may crush it--she'll need help from one of those four."
This is what I boiled a complex and multilayered mystery down to.
I'm getting strong and positive feedback from other writers about how slick this works.
"Brief" is unclear and open to huge interpretation by anxious writers. And, I'm sure all your agents would love to see swarms of queries that tight and spark-filled, wouldn't you?
This would therefore help you, your fellow agents, and prospective authors streak through the query-sorting process with far more efficiency than you're obviously doing. (I read all your blogs referring to overwork.)
You're welcome.

Farmer Kidd said...

I hope you know how precious it is for those 'aspiring authors' to get a glimpse of what truly occurs behind agency doors. It certainly allows me to gain perspective whilst never losing sight of my lofty goal of one day receiving representation. Wishing your team continued success.

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