Recently we got an email asking for information about Nancy Stauffer, an agent who “is not listed on your site.” Followed by another ten minutes later from the same person that said, “Never mind. I found some deals on Publishers Marketplace.”
Yes indeed. Three deals in fact. Two in 2003 and one in 2005. All respectable, but two for the same client. So we looked at our database, and there was the same agent. We had picked her up originally in the late 80’s/early 90’s and had identified five clients from that period. Including the one for whom the agent had listed the two deals on Publishers Marketplace. So he’d been a client right along. And all of this explains why the agent isn’t on our automatic responder at free Agent Verification, or anywhere else on our site.
It’s just not good enough. This is someone who is absolutely legitimate and has represented some noteworthy clients in the past (including Leon Uris in the last years he was writing and Arthur Hailey, pretty much ditto), but who does not appear to be out there doing it every day. And yes, that matters. We don’t put an agent on the automatic responder at free Agent Verification unless we’ve put them on the New Agent list (clearly Ms Stauffer doesn’t qualify for that), or we’ve picked up a minimum of ten clients (not deals, note, clients). Here’s why.
Hard as getting an agent is for new writers, it’s the easy part compared to selling the book to a publisher. (A real one - major name or small press - who puts books in bookstores and pays an advance and royalties. Not some cockamamie on-the-net-only outfit, or any print on demand set-up.) Agents, even the best ones, are probably placing something like 20% of what they take on. An agent without a vital and vibrant network of editors used to dealing with her all the time - editors who have learned to trust her judgment and always return her calls - figures to sell even less. We won’t attach a caveat to that agent’s name on the Verification part of the site, but neither can we recommend her. So we don’t list her. And we won’t. By our standards she doesn’t make the cut.