Not gonna tell ya...

Dear Miss Snark,

What do you think of well-meaning new agents who claim to have made a sale but won't disclose which publisher they sold to? Is there a period of confidentiality I should take into account? I thought a first sale for a new agency would be accompanied by fireworks, musical fanfare, etc, etc.

Can an inexperienced agent's boundless enthusiasm and networking skills really make a sale?

Thanks for helping to make the world a nitwitless place. I appreciate your wisdom.

Yes of course enthusiasm and networking can make sales.
Sometimes not so good ones when you're starting out (there's a reason Miss Snark loves Kirsch's Guide to the Book Contract-it's one valubale resource for this kind of thing).

If an agent has only one sale, and won't tell people what it is...I'd want to know why in pretty specific terms. Most deals aren't confidential. Everyone starts with no sales. This can work out but you want MORE info, not less.


Serenity Now! said...

When my agent sold my book she announced it before I did! It was in Publishers Weekly and I was still asking "is it ok to tell people yet?"

Anonymous said...

There's no such thing as a confidentiality period. If they're not willing to reveal who they sold to chances are they're making it up. Reputable agents, even new ones, share this kind of information.

Agent Kristin said...

If someone is a new agent, then he or she would want to be highlighting that first sale--not hiding it.

Why? Builds up the reputation for writers and for new editors whom the agent would like to connect with in the future.

That's why agents love Deal Lunch.

I think you should be very suspicious if a "new agent" refuses to tell you about his or her sales.

Heck, we shout it from the rooftop because it helps to generate foreign rights deals and it can also get Hollywood coming to call.

Andrew W said...

Yeah, an agent who doesn't announce landing a publisher is like a writer who doesn't announce landing an agent.

Certainly there's a level of discretion in agenting some books--for example, you wouldn't talk to a reporter about a political tell-all in such a way that you put yourself out in front of the publisher's marketing efforts--but to reel in new clients? Absolutely you tout your accomplishments.

ORION said...

Re: landing an agent. There is some element of caution and "Anti- Jinxing" there. (It's a real word. I just made it up.). I am circumspect with regaling others about what goes on between me and my agent.

There are a few things you don't want blasted from a roof top...an affair...your sister's pet name for you...your grade in organic chemistry...
A good deal isn't one of them.

LadyBronco said...

I would have a very hard time trusting my creation with any agent who could not, or would not, tell me what he or she had sold.
Sounds fishy.

Dave Kuzminski said...

That's why I regularly receive correspondence from agents pointing out recent sales so they can have the $ posted beside their names at Preditors & Editors. I do look up sales at several sources, but I'm currently eight months behind on when those sales occurred.

For those who might wonder why that $ is so important on the P&E site, it clearly distinguishes legitimate agencies from scams like the Deering Literary Agency because most scams are incapable of selling a book to a legitimate royalty-paying publisher. Why? Because selling manuscripts is hard work when you come down to it.

And yes, authors are welcome to point out a sale to me that I might not have found yet.