12.09.2005

Kanga, and Roo, Who?

I've been reading your blog for several weeks and may need professional intervention to curb my addiction. I’ve heard that Australian agents rarely (or never) consider taking on new authors and, as Snarkling from Down Under, I’ve often wondered whether it’s worth querying overseas agents. In this age of rampant globalisation, is being in another hemisphere too big a hurdle?

only if you spell things oddly, like humour, globalisation, and Snarque.

Donna Leon lives in Italy and manages to be represented and published here very well.

Why don't Australian agents take new clients? Do they think their current clients will live forever, or more to the point, publish forever?

9 comments:

Kate said...

They do take on new writers. It's just that there aren't many agents, and competition to get on their books is tough.

Daniel Hatadi said...

A smaller market means smaller agents, smaller offices, and smaller chairs. Since two chairs are needed to cover one person's seating equipment, that means less clients.

snarky little vegemite said...

Don't worry about their lists 'being full' -- it's practically a blessing. I would never have an Aussie agent again (and I had one of the biggies). Go the US agent and sell more than 20 copies of your books. It's sooooo much more fun (and you get to pay your electricity bill, too!).

glendalarke said...

I'm an Australian who - while living in Austria - obtained a UK agent and have since been published in 5 countries (including US and Australia) and 3 languages...so I sure have no complaints. Go for it!

Kelly G said...

I'm an Australian living in NZ (I know, I know, the traffic is usually the other way), and empathise.
There are some good local agents who will see new clients but they are few and very busy. You have to ask yourself how much interest they're going to be able to show in you if they're that over-worked. Try every one of them: http://austlitagentsassoc.com.au/members.html
And then there are some wankers - like the famous agent who once told me that she wouldn't even have time to take on someone like Peter Carey in the current market.
Yet all the big publishing houses are no longer accepting unsolicited manuscripts - so you're stuck.
I agree with the other posters about looking offshore, but even if you do find a local, make sure they have connections in the UK and US markets (and foreign translation rights).
Good luck!
So Miss Snark ... if you ever want to retire across the Pacific, they'll be beating down your door. The world could be your Sydney Rock Oyster.

Koala said...

Try a UK agent - usually no problems with humour, globalisation and Snarque.

Sherryl said...

There are about 15 agents in Australia, and a population of 20 million, half of whom appear to have a novel in them that they have let out. Current complaint from agents (as read in Australian Society of Authors' newsletter) is that since publishers closed their doors to submissions, the agents have ended up with that terrible job of reading all the manuscripts, and they don't think it's fair.
Also, as said previously, the literary fiction market here is practically dead.
I think part of the problem could maybe be solved with the query letter system. No one in Oz does query letters, it's all full or partial manuscripts from the word go.
All that paper...

koala said...

'Current complaint from agents (as read in Australian Society of Authors' newsletter) is that since publishers closed their doors to submissions, the agents have ended up with that terrible job of reading all the manuscripts, and they don't think it's fair.'

Poor little dears! My heart bleeds.

This, I think, is the reason why so many 'professional editors' are appearing on the scene - not just in Oz, but in the UK too. Not sure about the US, but it's probably going the same way.

In a world where publishers won't read, writers turn to agents. Now agents are starting to close their doors to manuscripts - but in some cases they will accept them if they are recommended by a published author (which is fab if you happen to be related to one), or accompanied by a favourable report from a 'professional editor'. So, in this brave new world where agents won't read, another layer of 'professionals' are appearing and this time they demand payment up front, with no guarantee of...well anything, other than their personal impression of your work.

I guess in time, they too will get fed up with their job...although I am sure the payment up front will soften the blow. What might the next layer be...pre-paid preliminary pre-professional editors???

jessicacrockett said...

Thanks, Miss Snark.
On Aussie agents taking no clients - I heard this after working at a publishing house, Allen and Unwin, where the editors chatted about the 'not enough agents' thing on a regular basis.
Still, they weren't agents, so who knows. Thanks again!