Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 24, 2011

Pros and Cons of a New Agent

Should You Pitch (and Sign With) a New Agent? The Pros and Cons…

on Aug 21 2011

One of the most common recurring work blog items I get complimented on (besides my headshot, which my wife has called “semi-dashing … almost”) is my “New Agent Alerts,” a series where I spotlight new/newer literary reps who are open to queries and looking for clients. At writers conferences, a frequent question I get is “Is it OK to sign with a new agent?” This is an interesting question, so let me try to delve into it here.

First of all, let’s look at the CONS:

  • They are likely less experienced in contract negotiations.
  • They likely know fewer editors at this point than a rep who’s been in business a while, meaning there is a less likely chance they can help you get published.
  • They are likely in a weaker position to demand a high advance.
  • New agents come and some go. This means if your agent is in business for a year or two and doesn’t find the success for which they hoped, they could bail on the biz altogether. That leaves you without a home. If you sign with an agent who’s been in business for 14 years, however, chances are they won’t quit tomorrow.

Now let’s look at the PROS:

  • They are actively building their client list — and that means they are hungry to sign new writers and lock in those first several sales.
  • They are usually willing to give your work a longer look. They may be willing to work with you on a project to get it ready for submission, whereas a more established agent has lots of clients and no time, meaning they have no spare moments to help you with structure and plot, etc.
  • With fewer clients under their wing, you should get more attention than you would with an established rep.
  • If they’ve found their calling and don’t seem like they’re giving up any time soon (and keep in mind, most do continue on as agents), you could have a decades-long relationship that pays off with lots of books.
  • Just as they may have little going for them, they also have little going against them. An established agent once told me that a new agent is in a unique position because they have no duds under their belt. Their slate is clean.

How can you decide for yourself?  Click the link below to read the answer.

Talk tomorrow,


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