Q9: Client Acquisition

(This question is part of a larger subseries called Perpetual WIPs: Literary Agents. For the remaining questions, see here.)

Obviously the slush pile, winning contests, and referrals can all work, but have you ever acquired a client in another way? If so, how?

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I think I’ve found the majority of my clients through the old-fashioned querying process. But I’ve met clients at conferences, either at pitch sessions or just hanging out. Conferences are good places to meet agents but also critique partners, if you need one. Once my boss (who is not looking for new clients) did a webinar on querying and one of the queries was great, so she referred the author to me. And weirdly, posts on social media have turned into book ideas.

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One of my clients’ CPs saw that I tweeted something that reminded him of her manuscript and told her to query me based on that. It worked!

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The first book I ever sold was from a former critique partner of mine, and another one of my authors is somebody I worked with in my old job! (However the fact is, they both queried me in the normal fashion, and I really loved the books — I wouldn’t have taken them on just because I like them personally. Though I do!)

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Conferences.

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Sure, I’ve actually sought out clients based on articles or short stories I’ve read.  Every now and again I’ll see something that indicates someone might have a wellspring of talent that may have been previously untapped, and I’ll dig up contact info and send them a brief inquiry.  The inquiry usually asks if they’ve ever considered publishing a book-length work (whether a novel, or a non-fiction work) and  if so whether they’d be interested in being represented by me, then I provide them with some details about me and he agency.  A lot of times people are already represented, but occasionally they were either looking for representation, or at least open to considering it, and we work from there.

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Actually yes. I read and loved Jeanette Battista’s Leopard Moon so much (self pub title) that I tracked her down via web form to ask if she had an agent.

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No, but that doesn’t mean I don’t try. I do float around social media looking for smart people writing the flavor of book I’m looking for. I have a coworker who signed someone because she reached out to them through their fanfic writing. Generally, though, those are the rarities. It’s easier to have folks reaching out to you when they know their work is a good fit for you rather than digging through internet haystacks hoping to spot the glint of a potential needle.

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I have signed at least 1 client that I found in an online pitch event.  Pitch events seem to really be in vogue right now and there are a LOT of them around.

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Sometimes I get clients from other agents at my agency or referrals  from other agents at other agencies (where there isn’t someone already there who does my genre).

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Most of my authors have come from the slush pile and a few have been referrals. I also signed a client from a writer’s conference, which I encourage all writers to look into. It’s not always a guaranteed way to get an agent, but it’s a great way to make personal connections and learn a lot about the industry.

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I met my latest client at an SCBWI mixer. We were chatting, she mentioned the premise of her book, and I handed her my card and said, “Please send me a query as soon as you get home.” We’re now going through a last round of close edits before going on sub!

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1 thought on “Q9: Client Acquisition”

  1. Such a great post, Dahlia! Thanks so much for putting this together. It’s great to hear that agents and clients can and do connect through a variety of pitch opportunities.

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