Monday, January 11, 2010

Agent Popularity

Below are four name. As you read each one, if you recognize the name and know something about them, clap your hands.

  • Chip MacGregor
  • Rachelle Gardner
  • Steve Laube
  • Terry Burns

Okay, so now that you feel silly for clapping while reading a blog, raise your hand if you can answer this question: who are their clients?

Yeah, that’s what I thought. And you back there, get your hand down. It’s no fair looking it up on their websites. But while you’re there, take a look at how many followers the four literary agents I mentioned have and compare that to how many their clients have. Or forget their clients and compare their blog readership to that of the well known authors. Some best selling authors have less than 200 people following their blogs. Some literary agents have over 1,500 people following their blogs.

Perhaps this isn’t the problem that it appears to be, but it doesn’t seem like a good thing when the literary agent is better known than the authors he represents. To be successful writers, we authors have got to build a name for ourselves. Ideally, we would like to have a name built before we query an agent. When the literary agent sees our e-mail in his inbox, we would like for him to skip over everyone else, excited to see something from a name he recognizes. The ideal situation rarely occurs, but it still seems odd to me that even after getting a literary agent, the agent is more popular than the writer. I’m not sure if there’s a way to fix it, but there you have it.


arlee bird said...

A lot of writers are trying to suck up to the agents and maybe get some kind of helpful advice or information.

People just want to read the authors books and don't care about what they have to say on a blog.

Writer wannabes and lesser known writers might check on a well known author blogs to see if they can find out who their agents are so they can move on to those blogs instead.

Often published authors are so self absorbed they don't care about comments or helping other writers. They want to find ways to sell more of their books.


Nathan said...

I do look for the blogs of authors I am interested in, and far too often find nothing, or very little. I would, however, be interested in what they have to say.

These agents, on the other hand, are the next step for a great many, and so the things they say become very important, especially when they are giving regular advice specific to all those seeking or considering representation.

arlee bird said...


I have never seen you acknowledge a comment to your blog that I can recall and the only place I remember seeing you comment on another blog is Rachelle Gardner's.

I have posted something today that really might benefit from some input from a published writer like yourself, partly because the topic also is addressed to you and your colleagues in the writing community. I hope you will take a moment to check it out and add your thoughts.


Rachelle said...

Timothy, agents are not more popular than writers.

Writers follow us for what we can do for them. No other reason. Our audience is only writers. The "follower" numbers are skewed because writers are the kind of people who are on the Internet all the time, reading blogs and trying to learn about publishing. Of course they're going to follow agents, to learn what they can.

Your audience, however, is the general public. The whole world. Everyone who reads. That audience is far less likely to be on twitter, facebook, or reading blogs.

Terry Burns said...

Interesting comment Timothy, but I agree with Rachael. Most of what we post on agent blogs is for consumption by writers, not by readers. That's who our client's blogs and those of their publisher are supposed to reach.


Timothy Fish said...

Lee, hopefully, it is more about wanting information than what it is about sucking up to an agent, but yeah it could be a little of both.

Nathan, it’s easier to interest non-fiction readers via a blog than fiction readers, so we end up writing about non-fiction. Many novelists have cats, so they write about them. Me, I don’t have any pets right now, so I write about writing. On Fiction Fridays I try write posts that are focused more toward fiction readers. My characters have been more than willing to help out and answer any questions the readers might have, but they haven’t gotten much response.

Rachelle (and Terry), you make good points. As I recall, I wrote a post several months ago that said something along the lines of agent blogs being popular for that reason. Yes, I suspect you are right that the numbers are skewed. There are a lot of authors out there who are looking for that last shred of hope and an agent’s blog seems like a good place to look. But I still think there’s something that needs fixing. If the author’s audience is the whole world and even some of the most popular authors are pulling in less than 200 out of the millions of readers, something isn’t right.

But then, I know that the audience for my novels thus far is not really the whole reading world, but people who are interested in fiction with a strong Christian worldview that deals with families. Or if we look at some other authors, the audience isn’t the whole reading world, but those who are interested in suspense, or romance or the Amish or whatever their reading pleasure might be. It just seems that no one has a good way to attract these people to a blog.