Monday, July 31, 2006

Robbing the Agenting Cradle

I found it very interesting, and affirming actually, that you were looking for a younger agent to represent your book because you didn't think that an older one would get your writing style as well. I've written a chick lit book that, I believe, needs young representation as well. It's a theory that I've confirmed because the younger agents, like yours, have had much more positive feedback. I was just wondering how you were able to find the younger/hip ones to query.

First, just to clarify and so as not to offend any veteran agents (snort, as if they'd take the time to read this blog!), there are definitely some wonderful seasoned agents out there...in fact, these women (and men) have earned their stripes and are undoubtedly great reps. Right? Right. :)

But what you're saying, and what I surmised during my agent hunt, was that they weren't necessarily great reps more me. Agenting isn't a one-size fits all industry, and agents will be the first to tell you that.

Whew, with that out of the way and so as to avoid any "you're an ageist" emails, let's get down to business! How was I able to whittle down my query list to the youngsters? Well, this probably isn't an enormous surprise, given my past posts, but really, it was all through research. Look, I've said it before, I'll say it again: any great writer - be it author or magazine writer - has to know how to dig up morsels and tidbits and information that sets them apart from the average aspiring writer who doesn't take the time or have the sensibility to do so. While I can't remember where I started, at some point in my research, I searched the forums at Writers.net (key words such as "younger," will bring up some threads with info). I also filtered through agentquery.com using the search terms "women's fiction," or "chick lit;" I believe that agentquery sometimes includes their college and graduating year (or shoots you to a link with more information that might). I cross-referenced all of these things with the agent's website, which often includes personal info such as graduation year or something in their bio that could give me a general sense of their age, (i.e, "I enjoy spending time with my husband now that my kids have left for college," or "I spend my non-agenting hours chasing my toddler around the house). I also double-checked my hunches on PublishersMarketplace: if she'd sold a lot of books that focused on younger women, chances were, she related to these heroines on some level, and thus might relate to mine. Oh, and there's always google: type in a name and you'll be amazed at what the engine spits back out...it might require some digging, but you can find 5k races (which list age), wedding announcements, alumni notes, you name it. And it never hurts to ask around: on the various Yahoo writers' loops, other repped friends, etc.

I don't mean to sound like a stalker here. I'm not. I'm just pointing out all of the ways that you can discover information on agents. They're normal people who live lives, and if you want to see if they'll be a good match for you - in terms of age, interests, etc - the information is probably out there.

That said, here are some of the up-and-coming younger/youngish agents whom I discovered on my hunt. (For the women's fic/chick lit category - the only one I looked into.) This list is by no means exhaustive, just some that come to mind.

Rachel Vater
Andrea Somberg
Elisabeth Weed
Jenny Bent
Dan Lazar
Kristen Nelson
Stacey Glick
Julie Barer
Jessica Faust
Andrea Cirillo
Stephanie Kip Rostan
Maria Massie
Alice Tasman
Nikki Van Der Car
Stephanie Lee
Andrea Barzvi

Joe Veltre
Christy Fletcher
Emma Parry
Jennifer Carlson
Caren Johnson

Nadia Cornier
Meg Ruley
Lucy Childs
Miriam Kriss
Paige Wheeler

This list is definitely not complete - just some of the names that I have in my notes. I don't know these gals personally, so don't write them and say that I suggested contacting them! (In fact, sidenote: it is very, very, very bad form to EVER do this to an established writer without asking him or her for permission to use her name. Even if she's passed you contact info, you simply don't name-drop unless she's told you that you can. I've seen a lot of my friends beyond steamed in these situations, and there's no faster way to burn a bridge. FYI.) I have no idea if any or all are accepting new clients, what their submission standards are, etc. I'm just telling you what I have jotted down.

So...which agents did I miss? And do you think that the age or demographic of your agent really matters?

6 comments:

Alyssa Goodnight said...

Great sleuthing techniques, Allison! I'm going to print out your list--just as a starting point, and then do my own Nancy Drew work.

Not only might younger/up-and-coming agents relate better to a young, hip writing style, but they're looking to build their client base and so may be more eager to take on a debut author.

Allison Winn Scotch said...

Excellent point, Alyssa. That was definitely a consideration for me in my search: not that I wouldn't have been HUGELY flattered if some of the big names made an offer, but often times, they're just not looking as actively as the up-and-comers. And the younger agents might have more time to devote to you and your career.

larramie said...

Following Allison's "plan" in searching for an agent is something I picked up on my own and view as a treasure hunt. Sure, it's time consuming, but it can also be great fun. ;o)

Also, I agree with both Alyssa and Allison on young agents taking more time with new authors and wanted to share the following from Agentresearch.com. Among other services, this is what they offer:

"The New Agent List

* This report costs $75.00

Study the record of over forty agents who have either opened their own agency since 2003, or begun a list with an agency for whom they did not work before.

By definition we have less data on these new agents, but there's a deal or two for each of them, often more. A careful reading will begin to give you a feeling for what the agent is good at and responds to.

Another important factor is that they're all "real" agents. No upfront money (we take them off the list if we find out they make any such charges). The premise is that not having as extensive a client list means that they may be a little more receptive to new work."

Hmmm, how fortunate are we to be
gaining this same insight by simply asking Allison? *G*

Allison Winn Scotch said...

Thanks, Larr! I'm always happy to offer something up if I actually know the answer. Besides, you should NEVER pay for info like this...it's so easy to get, and I can't help but wonder if those paying thingys are scams.

Sara Hantz said...

I totally agree. There is sooooo much info out there once you start looking, you never need pay.

Manic Mom said...

I've hit 18 of these babes (and dude, Dan, who was AWESOME and a very nice rejector!) LOL.

So, there's a few more I can hit up. I think two on your list are considering my full, but I'm getting impatient!!!