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KateESal

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May 5, 2018
Spain
...as in, agents who're based in a different country or indeed, across an ocean.

So far, I've only queried agents who're UK-based (I live in Spain, but I write in English), but have noticed a number of requests for my kind of MS on #MSWL. However, those requests are mainly from US-based agents. But, of course, I'm tempted to give them a try.

Any advice? Pros and cons?
 
I guess the greatest con (from my perspective) is that they don't want a sample of your writing - just a pitch. Which makes it even tougher to make a good impression, and means your query letter has to be a strapline and not much more.

At least that means you get fast rejections (four hours bring my record for a US based agent!).
 
I guess the greatest con (from my perspective) is that they don't want a sample of your writing - just a pitch. Which makes it even tougher to make a good impression, and means your query letter has to be a strapline and not much more.

At least that means you get fast rejections (four hours bring my record for a US based agent!).

"They" being US agents? Interesting. Is that true of all of them? As in, generally true (I don't imagine you've queried every single one. Or have you?!)
 
Yes, sorry, US agents. I've written to a handful but researched rather more than that, and none seemed to want anything more than a hard-hitting pitch. Just the sort of thing I'm utterly useless at [though actually, there's another, larger problem - when I pitch my novel The Alternative, which is set in East Germany - to US agents what I believe I'm telling them is "this is a novel that explores the emotional impact of living under totalitarian rule through the unusual mechanism of metaphor and fairy tale"; but what they read is "this is a novel about a committed Socialist who turns out to be a bit of a loser"...and you can imagine how far that ship is going to sail in Trump's America :(]
 
"...and you can imagine how far that ship is going to sail in Trump's America :(]

There's no reason why you should understand the electoral college. Very few Americans do. For instance, the individual currently occupying the White House would undoubtedly be hard pressed to explain the electoral college. There was a brief moment, a shining hopeful moment, when it looked like some electoral college votes might be diverted to their proper place. But that would have been revolutionary.

Every now and then the American people get screwed because of how votes are cast and we get what a minority of us wanted. There are a few states which have put forward legislation changing this in response to our current situation.

It's not his America. He wants it to be his America. The narrow-minded hateful bigots which were here before and will be here after want it to be his America. Journalists and the media have been attacked and while they've been threatened with sanction and censure in a nonsensical sort of way which still shouldn't be ignored, publishers are still publishing what they want and agents are still representing who they want--and one generalization that appears to be true at least most of the time is that creative people are often liberal.

There may actually be an increase in the market for fiction with different types of political systems. Or, at least fiction which delves into the different possibilities.

EDITED a million times because I made mistakes...
 
*Puts on Guardian hat*

Please keep this WRITING-related and stay off politics. The discussion regarding submitting to agents in countries other than your own is useful, but this is not the place to discuss politics. Thank you.
 
I've queried American agents, but only those who already represent British authors. I'd advise you to check the nationalities of their roster of writer clients. They all replied more promptly than British agencies, proving the old observation that Americans are better at customer service, whereas Brits resent being seen doing it.

It also pays to investigate the successful entrants in writing competitions based in America, which claim to be International in scope and open to anyone in the world. I entered two such competitions in 2016, both of which charged a fee, getting nowhere. I later read the winning short stories, and then looked at other winners through the years, finding that all of them were American; no foreign writers had even been shortlisted. The competitions were international, only in the sense that they'd take payment in any world currency!
 
Go for it. If the agent of your choice happens to live in the US, well, then they live in the US. If they take you on, you could always hop on a plane and meet them. It's the agent that matters, not the residence.

The only thing you might want to consider is whether or not your work has to have an international appeal (or 'country of agent' appeal). A typically English novel might not necessarily find a home in the US. An American agent might prefer if your novel is set in the US. But I don't really know. Maybe someone on here knows more about this?
 
The only thing you might want to consider is whether or not your work has to have an international appeal (or 'country of agent' appeal). A typically English novel might not necessarily find a home in the US. An American agent might prefer if your novel is set in the US. But I don't really know. Maybe someone on here knows more about this?

Yes, that's something else I've been musing over in relation to approaching US-based agents. My novel is mainly set in a fantasy world, but I think there's a definite Britishness about certain aspects of it. I wonder if the Harry Potter effect means that's not necessarily a deal-breaker. I guess it depends on the agent.

I would also be interested to hear about relevant experiences concerning this.
 
I've noticed a growing trend for UK authors to sign across the pond, particularly in the YA and SF markets which are more vibrant in the US than in the UK.

Well, that's heartening. Although, mine is essentially MG fiction. Anyone else on here write for the MG market?

I'd advise you to check the nationalities of their roster of writer clients. They all replied more promptly than British agencies, proving the old observation that Americans are better at customer service, whereas Brits resent being seen doing it.

Seems like sound advice, I will do so.
 
Yes, that's something else I've been musing over in relation to approaching US-based agents. My novel is mainly set in a fantasy world, but I think there's a definite Britishness about certain aspects of it. I wonder if the Harry Potter effect means that's not necessarily a deal-breaker. I guess it depends on the agent.

I would also be interested to hear about relevant experiences concerning this.
The best thing: just get it out there and see what happens. Good luck with it. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.
 
I write MG fantasy too, Kate... though I would rather call it by its age-range. Unfortunately the English market doesn't appear to have an equivalent expression. I find using "Middle Grade" a challenge, as it's an American term not well known by those outside of the industry. Where's the term for the tween-age stage of reading? :)
 
Well, that's heartening. Although, mine is essentially MG fiction. Anyone else on here write for the MG market?

Yes! Me too. I write for the upper aged MG market (10-12?).
I'd go for it as there are only a handful of children's agents in the UK compared to the US. The UK agents would sell to US market anyway so from that alone it shouldn't be an issue in theory.

Maybe connect with a few on Twitter and strike a conversation. That's one way of knowing if they're right for you and vice versa.
 
Yes! Me too. I write for the upper aged MG market (10-12?).
I'd go for it as there are only a handful of children's agents in the UK compared to the US. The UK agents would sell to US market anyway so from that alone it shouldn't be an issue in theory.

Maybe connect with a few on Twitter and strike a conversation. That's one way of knowing if they're right for you and vice versa.

Thanks for that! Since starting this thread I've queried three or four US agents and received breathtakingly fast rejections (only one that took longer than 24 hours and that took less than a week).

I will keep trying because, after all, you never know.

But I'm not convinced I'm getting a fair hearing/reading because:
a) I can't offer a decent US "platform" publicity-wise (at least in the UK/Europe I have some excellent broadcast media contacts and some background in press liaison and marketing).
and
b) There is a fair amount of intrinsic "Britishness" to my writing which I suspect may prove to be a turn-off to many US agents.

(Of course, my query letter may not be strong enough yet, or the sample chapters may not be hitting the mark etc. etc.)

Anyway, I'm happy to be corrected if these suspicions are based on misconceptions...
 
Perhaps the reason Harry Potter was so popular world-wide was because it was successful first in its home territory? Having said that my MG novels are all Anglo-centric ... some intrinsically, others more obviously so. I do think however that a good agent will see beyond perceived parochialism and appreciate the story you write. I would hate to think one had to change the core character of a novel just to sell it. And setting is a character.
 
The world is our bivalve. :-D

Heheh.

Bivalve, lol.

And I agree, go for it in principle. I'd just say, know, and say, why you have chosen to approach them, X ( instead of Y and Z) demonstrating your awareness of other books they have represented, that have something in common with yours.
 
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