Good Intentions..yes, they do pave the road to Hell.

Writes a Snarkling on the comment line about good places to find agents:

AND even with all this, you're going to come across scammers, or maybe even worse, agents who think they're agents - they might not take your money, but they will take your time - they've never had a sale, don't have the contacts, but, like us, are hoping against hope to find or be the next Nicholas Sparks.
These well meaning folks are the hardest to detect because they don't show up as being scammers.
But your gut feeling should be if someone takes your novel and shops it around for a year, and still hasn't sold yours or the thirty other ones she is shopping about, there is something terribly wrong.
Miss Snark, am I wrong here?

Miss Snark hangs her head in shame. She has several novels that haven't sold in a year. More than one year in fact. Some more than two.

Of course, the second half of that sentence doesn't apply. I have sold other novels in the meantime. Just not ..these.

So the question is (you've heard me say this before) WHAT HAVE YOU SOLD.

If the answer is close to zip, nada, zilch, it's not neccesarily the end of the world but it better be from an agent who's starting out.

Lots of novels don't sell fast. Philip Spitzer who is probably one of THE best agents in the industry, and a true gentleman, had a novel of James Lee Burke's in submission for more than ten years. TEN years.

Sometimes it takes awhile. But...if the agent isnt' selling ANYTHING...that's the flag.

And an agent who hasn't sold anything shouldn't have 30 novels on his/her list anyway.


Anonymous said...

Ok, so what does it mean when I hear an agent saying the writing is first class but I don't think there's a market for it? Miss Snark,You have a client with 87 rejections and a contract. Obviously, the 87 were all wrong about the market. How could so many be so wrong? Put aside those who didn't even read the query and those who are less than competent. What about the supposedly savvy ones who gave your client due consideration and passed? Is it just a crap shoot where both agents and editors are guessing?

Does it all boil down to love and not science? The way people make a guess about a mate?

Miss Snark said...

There's a key piece of information missing in your example.

My client has 87 rejections and THREE YEARS of rewrites, including a hired free lance editor.

He didn't get an offer from me until all of that was done. The trick was he listened to what I said, incorporated the changes, and never gave up.

I kept sending the ms back with detailed comments. He persevered.

Love? yea.
Crapshoot? yup.
Market? Not a clue. What I do know is that his story is important. I know it moved me. My job now is to communicate that to editors and show them other readers will feel the same way.

Committment? you bet.
But from both of us.

Agenting is being the chief cheerleader on the success team. It's also like being the coach- diagramming the plays. The author is the defensive line..he just gets to stand there and get the crap kicked out of him by offensive people all the time.

Anonymous said...

If you don't mind (and I can understand it if you do) would you give a list of about 10 agents you consider the best in the business for both fiction and non-fiction?
I know agents hate to put this stuff out publically but any Snark Queen who can swear like a sailor and toss back gin like it was water might just be willing to step up to the plate.

Christine said...

I think most writers have "dream agents", at least thost that know something about agents. Personally, I would just about kill to have Ethan Ellenberg take me on. But that's me. Others, I'm sure, have other ideals. Donald Maas (who doesn't rep my genre), Barry Goldblatt (who has closed his doors to unsolicited everything)and others.

Boy, can I name drop or what?

kitty said...

Girl, at POD-dyMouth, has posted an interview with Natalie Collins, who printed her first book using POD. NC wrote this book on finding an agent. Have you heard of/read this book?

Also, what if an author sent you their POD? (No, I don't have a POD.)

Miss Snark said...

No lists from this Snark, you're on your own for that. Besides, finding the right agent is like finding the right sweetheart. You woulnd't want Miss Snark to pick your honey for you would you?

Miss Snark said...

Every writer seems to write a book about their publishing travails. There's a million books out there from the author's perspective. Some are pretty good. Me, I prefer Pat Walsh's book. He was actually BUYING books for a publisher. I learned more than a few things myself reading it.

Ric said...

Miss Snark is unusually snarky this morning. Glad to see she isn't wasting the summer sitting on the beach soaking up the sun.

Rumor has it that some scammers and/or well intentioned agents are redflagged at most publishing houses. As soon as the package arrives with certain return addresses, it is immediately shuffled over to the sluch pile. I can understand the concept because I had an agent offer to represent me but I had to pay the $9 for every copy he sent out to NYC. (little research revealed the above information)

Of course, we know Miss Snark has repeatedly said she calls the editor first and her mss. are always expected and welcomed.

Just curious as to how prevelent is the concept of editor rolling eyes towards the gin bottle when packages arrive with certain zip codes on them?