Monday, December 17, 2007

Querying Foreign Agents

I was asked a question about querying agents. The writer was from out of country, India to be specific. He wanted to know if he could query American agents.

The answer is yes. You can live anywhere in the world and seek representation by an American agent. Just as anyone here can query an agent in England or Australia or even India, etc.

The question really shouldn’t be, can I query an agent in the States. It should be, should I query an agent in another country.

American agents don’t look at the postmark on a query to see where it came from. They look at the query and sample pages to see if they want to ask for more. And they consider whether they can sell it.

Lately, it seems like there’s been a slurry of books written by authors living in other countries that have become popular here in the US. But keep in mind that an agent in the US is going to be most familiar with publishers here in the US, just as a British agent is going to be most connected with publishers in that country, and so on and so on. So, if your book will most likely sell best in India, then go for an agent in that country. Your agent will have the strongest connections there.

This is not to say that an American agent couldn’t sell your book in whatever country you live in. American agents have some connections overseas and most agencies have an in-house foreign rights agent or they have an agreement with another agent who has those skills. But their focus is going to be on publishers here in the States.

But if you know or feel your book would be a hit in China, but not in France, why go for an agent in the US or in France or in England? Especially if you live in China. On the other hand, if your best fit is with an American agent, even though you live elsewhere, then go for it.

If what’s stopping you is that you think it wouldn’t work since you live so far away you’d never meet your agent, then welcome to the world of a lot of writers. Living in the same country doesn’t mean you’ll become fast friends and coffee buds with your agent. Plenty of authors only know their agents via phone calls or emails.

So, when it comes to looking for an agent, consider where your book will sell and why you’re querying.

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