Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Agents and All That Jazz

Okay, just to keep off of Eliza's Bad-Boy List, I'll ask something I've been wondering about. Where do all of you stand these days on the matter of agents?

I had shed mine just before I submitted to MNW (after her sage advice that my novel was "too American" to be of interest to anyone in Europe). Roger Morris, if I recall, already had an agent at the time he signed with MNW. I believe that the prolific Ms. Whiteley acquired an agent somewhere after Three Things but before Light Reading. And I know that many of you have been through the whole agent grind on the way to where you are today.

For me, it's been loverly (my subconscious must have just now connected Elizas) not worrying about the whole agent issue, but it's also become clear to me that my trajectory, be it high or be it low, at Pan Macmillan is going to be within the thriller genre--which makes sense from their point of view, and also makes sense from a career point of view.

Unfortunately, I'm not a sensible writer, and so I have this pile of stuff in other genres, and I've realized the only way I'm going to get the rest of it out there is through an agent. Sigh.

Being me, of course, I can't even decide whether I need an agent in the US or in the UK. (And finding someone who wants both thrillers and dain-bramaged fantasy/sci-fi with literary pretensions isn't easy in either place.)

But what about the rest of you? Are you repped? Do you feel the need to be repped? Do you feel that the word 'repped' is an annoying neologism, and just the sort of thing you'd expect from someone who lives so close to Hollywood?

17 comments:

Ellie said...

Still haven't done anything about this and stern friends are telling me that I SHOULD.

I had two agents before MNW published me. Perhaps it would be a case of third time lucky?

Aliya Whiteley said...

Couldn't you just pretend to have an agent? Maybe go for a male one - then you can impersonate him on the phone when you need to. I hear some of the ones at ICM have spaces for mock clients. You just namedrop them when you need to, but make sure they're never bothered with the paperwork.

Hasn't Brian got an agent now? I thought I read that in Publishing News. That's the time to get an agent - when it makes news in the industry.

Anonymous said...

How long was it before MNW got back to you after submitting? I'm at 11 weeks today, one more week to go!
Thanks,
James

Brian McGilloway said...

Hi David

Aliya's right _ I signed up with Peter Straus at RCW around the time that Borderlands came out and the Pan Mac deal came up. I've no regrets: Peter is great when I need some advice, offered very sage and canny advice on the draft of Bleed a River Deep and his assistant, Jenny, got the Radio 4 story for me. In addition, through Peter, The Agency are handling TV rights for the books. Peter was involved in the US deal and, whilst my experince with Pan Mac has been fantastic, I believe having Peter on my side helps me carry a little more weight, metaphorically speaking. (I need no help literally!) I found it a little strange at first, being so used to doing stuff myself, but I'm glad i did it. I recall Will's advice was that you shouldn't get an agent if it's only so you can say 'I'm having lunch with my agent' - more sage and canny advice.

Cheers
Brian

David Isaak said...

Hi, James--

I believe it was a few months before I heard back from MNW.

Ellie said...

Four or five months for me to hear back from MNW.

Matt Curran said...

Hi, James

Probably best to keep in mind that MNW get many submissions each week (around 4,000 a year) and these are entire manuscripts and not just the first two or three chapters and a synopsis - and they are read in their entirety, unlike a few publishers who will sling them on the slush-pile after a few pages. So don't give up, I'm sure they'll respond to soon.

Best wishes

Matt

Matt Curran said...

Hi, David

I'm not represented yet, but Charles Stross has advised me to get an agent, so it's on my to do list for the new year. Along with being published, finishing my third book. And parenthood.

Alis said...

Yes.. agents. I have, in theory, had two 'repping' me in the past but both were a little vague and in neither case was anything so formal as a contract signed so maybe I didn't really 'have' an agent at all. Anyway, in both cases we parted company as nothing much seemed to be happening, from their end at least.
Now, I'm thinking about putting my toe in the water again. It's not that I'm not happy with my treatment by MNW/Panmac, far from it, but I'm thinking about the long view and wondering whether it looks rosier and slightly more in-control with an agent in it. So I'm on the lookout and scouring agents websites almost constantly. I'm open to recommendations from you guys, otherwise I'm just going to have to take the plunge and plump for somebody I like the look of.

Anonymous - 11 weeks is where you start thinking 'their entry in the W and A says 10 weeks, have they lost my book?' isn't it? OK, maybe that's just me. I submitted my MS in the first week of September and then, having heard nothing, sent a v. humble email in the second week of January, to be told some very nice news about 10 days later. Don't give up yet!

Ann Weisgarber said...

I had an agent for about three months which was just long enough for the big dogs in NYC to reject Rachel DuPree. When the agent stopped answering my e-mails, I knew it was over. I also figured that the book wasn't ready (as they say in the business). I took a deep breath and started another round of revisions. A year later, I couldn't bring myself to begin the grueling process of finding an agent. Instead, I sent the revised manuscript to MNW.

Since I'm just in the early stages of the second book, I haven't given the agent thing a thought. I do like Aliya's suggestion of pretending to have one. I could take myself to lunch, order two martinis, and chat about how pleased I am to be representing such a wonderful writer.

Anonymous, don't give up. I heard from Will about eleven weeks after I sent the manuscript. Take comfort in knowing that MNW is reading every word of your manuscript and that it all takes time. You'll hear soon.

Brian McGilloway said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian McGilloway said...

Hi James

Sorry - should have mentioned this in my earlier comment. Like the other writers here, it took a little time to hear back. I sent in early November, wrote to ask if they'd got it early March and got a response that they'd be in touch within a week - which they were. As Matt says, MNW is very busy with ms but you can count on getting a fair reading. Good luck with it - hope you get good news.
(Previous post removed due to copious spelling mistakes.)
Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Hmm..they say on their website if you haven't heard within 12 weeks then consider it a 'NO'. So this isn't necessarily the case then?
THanks,
James

Anonymous said...

Hi Brian,

What email address did you use to contact MNW on? They seem to be very against being contacted for feedback/updates, but I think I'll try it.
Thanks,
James

David Isaak said...

Hey, James--

Just to be sure, I went and checked my e-mail correspondence. It took 15 weeks for them to get back to me. (On the other hand, they did apologize for taking so long, so I guess it isn't standard practice.)

Were I you, I'd just forget about it for a while and concentrate on something else. In fact, on anything else. Holding your breath waiting for anyone in the publishing industry to do anything will drive you mad.

Len Tyler said...

Hi James,

I submitted in July and got a response on 14 November (yes, you remember these dates - I could tell you the time I got the email too). Good luck! I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.

Re agents - I'm talking to one (a very good one, I think) but since I recently agreed terms with Macmillan on the next three books there's not much for him to do - so I haven't actually signed up with him. I was in two minds about agents before, but, having tried negotiating on my own and then talked to one or two agents, I'd say it's definitely worth having somebody to represent you.

JamesG said...

Thanks everyone for your replies to my comments. I emailed MNW today to try and get an update so will see how it goes.
If you are talking to any editors on your travels my MS is called 'A Man in Grey Shoes' by J Guiney :o)
Many Thanks,
James