Dear Miss Snark,

Just wondering what the heck a "boutique" agency is and how it is different from a "regular" (?) agency. Are there disadvantages to one over the other?

Boutique is just another way to say small and imply exclusive. The question isn't whether one is advantageous; the question is which agent and agency are right for you. That's an entire list of questions that only you can answer.


Ryan Field said...

This is an excellent question for everyone. And Miss Snark's answer is the same answer I've been hearing for years...find out which agent is right for you.

What bothers me is there are agents out there now, who have clearly been representing a certain genre (to the point where their web sites drip with definition about what they represent)yet they claim to be looking for different genres in order to expand. What the hell are writers supposed to think while researching agents, when an agent who represents women's fiction mentions they are looking for more testosterone to add to their list? This is a mixed message, and as far as I'm concerned it's a shabby way to treat writers who ARE interested in following the rules. And, it diminishes agents who (and most do)stick to what they love to represent.

queen serene said...

I recommend Kate Epstein's article at Backspace on this topic:


Anonymous said...

Least we kid ourselves: The real question is which agent and agency will take you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, anonymous. I would love to have my pick of agents and be able to really determine which one would be a perfect match for me -- but I'm not counting on that happening.

At this point, if an agent likes my writing (and me) well enough to try and sell my work and support me as a writer, that has to be good enough.

Isn't it a rare writer who actually gets to choose their agent rather than the other way around?

Termagant 2 said...

So, lemme get this one straight: we can choose between small and exclusive and big and exclusive? 'Cause they're all exclusive, to one extent or another...

Or does "boutique" simply mean agents who specialize?


Ryan Field said...

Maybe I'm wrong, termagant2, but I always thought "boutique" was nothing more than a pretentious title with cute overtones. I wouldn't even give it a second thought.

a writer said...

So, agents aren't allowed to expand, Ryan? It's pretty obvious who you are talking about; she just blogged aboutt his exact topic. But it's not a mixed message at all. If they say they are looking for X, when you query them with X, you can say, "I read on your blog/heard you speak at a conference/ran into you in Denver and you sais that you were looking for X."

It's up to you to decide whether or not they can properly represent X.

In passing, when my agent offered for me, she had just expanded into my field. This year, she sold over a dozen novels in that genre.

Ryan Field said...

Hey, "a writer said"...I only mentioned what has been solid fact for a very long time. I don't make the rules.

If you notice I didn't comment on that post because I truly respect and like that particular agent, and in her case I don't think she meant any harm...but it was a mixed message, according to all the facts about her. Yet I still like her, and I hope she does branch out and sell whatever she can. I also hope she changes her web site and clearly explains she's looking to expand.

On the other hand, you, "a writer said", are an idiot who can't even sign a comment with your name.