How many agents can you have?

Dear Miss Snark--

First of all, I wanted to say thank you. Reading your blog has been one of the elements that helped me craft successful query and cover letters! ("miss snark rocks" in the acknowledgement section is thanks enough!)

On to my question. I have been incredibly lucky: I co-authored a novel with a Well Known Author and it's been picked up by his Well Known Agent. The agent wants to see more of my work, and I do have manuscripts to send--but one that I think to be agent-ready is in a genre this agent does not represent and has no interest in representing.

I know it's not really kosher to have two agents, but how do you and multi-genre authors handle this? Or should I just count my lucky stars that I've gotten a Good One while I'm walking to the bank?

Yours, Hopefully Not More Evidence That Published Authors Can Be Nitwits

Sorry, this isn't a nitwit question. You may try again next week.

First, the WKAgent is technically an agent for you as part of a team. You need to ask him/her whether he wants your solo work. If he does, nothing precludes him from selling a book outside his normal interest area. This happens all the time. Authors have this terrible tendency to actually grow and change which can just wreck havoc on Miss Snark's well laid plans but so far her order for Robert B. Parker "write the same novel endlessly" fairy dust remains on back order.

If WKAg doesn't want this genre novel, you're free to shop it to another agent. You MUST tell prospective agents up front that you're part of a team represented by WKAg. The absolutely last thing you want is two publishing companies with rights to your "next work" cause neither agent knew to get that clause struck.

It's not all that common to have multiple agents for books, but it does happen. It can work if you're very straightforward about everything, and it will help if the agents know each other. You might ask WKAg for a referral.


Anonymous said...

I have to add my own thanks to the recent stampede. :-) Back in December, I asked if I should just go ahead and send my manuscript to an agent or if I should pay big bucks to a reputable editor to polish it up first. You said, "Suck it up. Send out a query."

Thanks for the nudge with the stiletto. The agent who's getting the query may not thank you, but I certainly do!

Princess Scientist said...

I was considering asking a similar question about agents for ficiton vs nonfiction books. If I write both, should I court two agents (unless I come across one that deals with both fic and nonfic books, of course)

Anne C. said...

I have seen an author write on precisely that subject. He's a science-fiction and non-fiction writer who posted a FAQ about what he knows about agents on his personal blog:
Essentially he says what Miss Snark said. Just be up front about what you're looking for and who's onboard already in what capacity.