Querying an agent WITH publisher interest in the bag...?

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KateESal

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I've recently sent out a small batch of submissions, including a couple to small indie publishing houses who accept unsolicited submissions in certain circumstances.

If...(big if) IF one or other of the publishers takes a genuine interest, is it worth me querying an agent or two, mentioning this? Not least because I would hesitate to enter into a contract without someone casting an expert eye over it on my behalf.

Would an agent be more inclined to take a submission seriously if it already had publisher interest? Or would they be likely to feel as if they weren't necessary to the transaction OR that a small indie publisher wouldn't be worth their while in any case..?

Like I said, an entirely hypothetical situation, but I've been musing over this.

Can anyone offer any thoughts? @AgentPete ? Anyone else?

Thanks!
 
Would an agent be more inclined to take a submission seriously if it already had publisher interest?
Can anyone offer any thoughts? @AgentPete ? Anyone else?
Thanks!

Yes. Major publisher interest is much persuasive than minor, tho. With a big publsiher interested, even if the initial offer is lowball, it's money in the bank for the agent. And if they're any good, they may be able to up the offer substantially.

If this scenario comes to pass, then you should have your pick of agents, i.e. meet a few, and go with the one you think will work best for you. This is actually how I had my pick of agents when I was writing...
 
Thanks @AgentPete.
Yes. Major publisher interest is much persuasive than minor, tho. With a big publsiher interested, even if the initial offer is lowball, it's money in the bank for the agent. And if they're any good, they may be able to up the offer substantially.
I suspect getting major publisher interest (as opposed to minor) would be pretty tricky tho', seeing as I don't think any of them accept unsolicited (un-agented) submissions. Or do they?
If this scenario comes to pass, then you should have your pick of agents, i.e. meet a few, and go with the one you think will work best for you. This is actually how I had my pick of agents when I was writing...
Ooh, Pete... *green with envy*
I'm assuming your status as an established agent gave you an open door into the commissioning editors' inboxes? (I'm taking as read that your ms was fantastic...) Or did you approach it some other way?
Hope you don't mind the nosiness, I'm genuinely curious :-)
(Sorry, journalist — just can't help myself).
 
No, it didn’t happen like that at all. Before I became an agent I wrote / cowrote about two dozen books with Peggy (Brusseau). I fell into writing by accident – I’d always enjoyed copywriting at the agency, but had never thought about writing a book until a publisher I’d been dealing with suggested it to me.

It just so happened that the book became a No. 1 bestseller and sold in excess of 100,000 copies here in the UK. At that point, I thought I probably ought to get an agent. You can get any agent you want to with a good sales record and a publisher keen to get your next book.

I got through three agents by the time I stopped writing: the general level of literary agenting was quite disappointing, especially when compared to the level of service advertising agents have to offer their clients. I thought the two industries might have been roughly comparable, but it fact they’re not at all similar, other than in name.

So yes, the best way to have your choice of agent is to already have a great track record. Which of course, is a bit chicken-and-egg... :)
 
@AgentPete thanks for sharing that exerpt from your personal history.

That's fascinating.

A No.1 bestseller, coo... *not worthy* Good for you.

Did you decide to become a literary agent yourself to redress the balance after your disappointment with your own agents? Does it inform the way you operate?

Actually, sorry, I'm aware I'm plying you with question after question.... apologies!

Maybe we should do a proper interview one of these days for a podcast etc. to run when the submissions shows are on a break some time? If you fancy it.... :-)

Anyway, thanks again for the answers :)
 
@AgentPeteDid you decide to become a literary agent yourself to redress the balance after your disappointment with your own agents? Does it inform the way you operate?

I simply saw the opportunity to bring some skills from the ad business into the (then) rather frowsty world of lit agenting. Slightly tweedy with leather arm patches :)

Initially specialising in non-fiction, much of it NY-based. Since then, the digital tsunami has hit, and change is now the new normal.
 
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