Hi Miss Snark,
How do you know whether to put your faith in an up-and-coming agent? For example, you have a link to Jenny Rappaport on your blog, so you must think she is a good agent. (Actually it means I think she has a good blog-I don't actually know her yet)
Obtaining representation by a young agent could be easier than with most, given the fact they're keen to build their client list. But how is one to know whether they will turn out to be stellar... or mediocre?
First, Jenny Rappaport works for the L.Perkins agency. She's not standing in a phone booth in Dragoon Arizona madly dialing the 212.
I have no idea if she'll turn out to be a boon or a loon. I know I like what she says on her blog.
However, your question really is: how can I tell if someone without a track record is someone I want to sign with. Much like the question below:
Hi Miss Snark,
Thank you for your website. It is very informative. I recently submitted my manuscript to an agent out of Florida and have been in correspondence with this person via email only. This agent then sent me a contract for me to sign and I asked for this agent's office phone number as I have never spoken to her on the phone. This agent responded by stating that she does NOT like to give out her number.
Should I be cautious and worried that an agent wants me to sign a contract yet won't give me her office phone number? I personally find this very strange. We are in different States so I cannot show up at the address that she provided for me.
I have googled her and have not found much on her or any sales that she may have made nor details on her agency.
Thank you so very much for your advice
You're both asking about agents (different ones in case you're reading this before you've had coffee) who don't have much of a track record. Here's how to get a bead on whether you should take some risk by signing with a person who doesn't have much to answer for "what have you sold"?
1. The agency has a web presence at Publishers Marketplace. Not just their own site (hottalkagency.comma) but a separate listing at PM. No site, no dice. The reason this is crucial is cause that's one of the ways to get your name out to editors, and editors look at that before they call you back if you're cold calling them. Trust me. They do.
2. The person, if embarking on a career, has some sort of confidence inducing background in publishing. This is where "I work at L.Perkins agency" comes in.
This is where you flee like the furies from someone who has never worked in publishing, and "just wants to help people". People who want to "help" should donate money to their library.
3. My phone number is on my website, it's on Publishers Marketplace, and surprise surprise, it's listed in the damn phone book. I don't want you to call me if you're querying, but if I'm signing you up, it's an ENTIRELY different matter. Clients have carte blanche until they prove annoying. Then they still have it. An agent who won't give a client her phone number is a HUGE RED FLAG.
If you have any doubts about a person's ability to represent your work well because they are new to the game here's what to ask: which editors and which houses would be good fit for this and why. I can't cough up that list in five seconds but I can in five minutes if I'm staring at my data base of 2000 names. ANY agent who is actively working can do this.
You are not a begger at the banquet of books. Don't confuse "yay someone likes my work" and "yay it's not my mom" with "yes, I'll sign with you".