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Using an Agent for Magazines

If I am represented by a good agency and am pitching to a top magazine or newspaper, should I mention the fact that I have an agent who deals with NY Times best-selling authors in my bio?

Will it seem strange that I am mentioning that I have an agent but that I, not them, am doing the pitching?

I never worked in the acquisitions department of a magazine, so I can’t say with complete certainty how a magazine editor thinks or works. Maybe one of my readers would know. That being said, I don’t think it could hurt to say your agent is currently shopping your book.

If you are shopping a nonfiction book and you are an expert, I would definitely mention it. It’s something that will give you more credibility as the author of the article and the book.

As for whether it’s strange that your agent is pitching for you: Not strange at all. Few literary agents pitch to magazines.

Jessica

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6 comments

  1. "I never worked in the acquisitions department of a magazine, so I can’t say with complete certainty how a magazine editor thinks or works."

    I've worked with magazine editors on my own many times. And each editor and magazine is different, so it's hard to give any set advice.

    It can't hurt to mention that you have an agent, but I doubt it will impress them one way or the other. And they won't think it's strange your agent is not pitching. They won't even go there.

    Magazine editors work fast, on deadlines. Their goal is to stay ahead of schedule and they only care about the piece you are submitting to them at that time, especially European magazine editors.

    With that said, magazine editors are the best. Though they work fast and can be abrupt, they are the nicest people to work with, the contracts are simple nowadays, and magazines usually pay very well.

  2. I would say it depends on the magazines. I don't work in magazines that pay well enough, generally speaking, that it would interest an agent (although it adds up). However, I do have a writer friend, Doug Stanton, whose agent works (or did) with him on magazines, but those magazines tended to be Esquire and Men's Journal, etc., which pay very, very well, and Doug was doing things like profiles of celebrities where he would go stay at Woody Harrelson's house for a few days, or go flying with Harrison Ford. Now I think Doug mostly writes books.

  3. This isn't strange (mention you have an agent, but not have them involved in the submissions process.) Not at all.

    Back in the day, when magazines were like blogs, there were agents who specialized in magazine submissions. Life, The Saturday Evening Posts – outlets with enormous readerships – could sustain financially sustain writers. Then, the idea was to place your work in "the glossies," and get paid a good rate.

    Although I would definitely consult with my agent about a submission, I wouldn't ever expect him to submit an article. There are huge writers with agents who deal with editors. I may be wrong, but I think most literary agent/magazine editor dealing are excerpt driven.

    There was a moment when agencies were dedicating resources to non-fiction pieces ie., brokering film deals (a flurry of these happened with the New York Times; the now defunct, TALK, was semi-launched on the idea of synergy between the magazine and Miramax Films.)

  4. I worked at two magazines as an editor and in my experience, mentioning your agent isn't terribly helpful. (I'm making the assumption that we're talking about non-fiction articles for consumer magazines – not literary magazine pieces – btw.)

    The thing is, writing a magazine article is different than writing a book. A book is a representation of your voice; a (good) article is a representation of the magazine's voice, at least until you get to be really, really famous.

    So the fact that you have a good agent is great but it isn't an indicator of your magazine writing skills. And it just isn't the same thing.

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