BookEnds Literary Agency Happy National Boss’ Day!
BookEnds Literary Agency Publishing Without an Agent
BookEnds Literary Agency Why Pre Orders Matter
BookEnds Literary Agency Where Have all the Editors Gone?

Let’s Talk Referrals

Referrals are the lifeblood of any small business. It’s what gets customers in the door of a new restaurant, how you find a hairdresser. It’s how readers will one day find your book and it’s how agents find new clients.

If you like an agent. If you’re happy with your agent. Please refer your agent to other authors. It won’t take away from your chances. In fact, I’m a believer that putting good energy out there brings good energy back to you. It’s the positive side of karma.

Throughout the course of my career, I’ve gotten some absolutely terrific referrals from clients. I can’t thank them enough. I’ve also noticed that many are almost afraid to give a referral. What if they pass along my name and the book is terrible? I don’t care. Someone else’s book is not a judgment on you.

When it comes to giving referrals please don’t feel it’s your responsibility to vet a book first. It’s not. I once told my family, I can easily reject a query or a project. I’d rather have the chance to see it, then you feel the need to protect me. What if you protect me right out of a future bestseller?

You will never hear me complain about a referral. If you feel strongly enough about the work I’m doing to recommend me to others I’m honored. So thank you.

Category: Blog



  1. I understand how referrals are fabulous for a business and agenting wouldn’t be different to that. But you might need to clarify what you mean by referrals. I know that you mean “Happy with my agent, they rock, why don’t you shoot them a query”.

    However unpub authors hear stories about how getting a referral gets a you a leg-up. That being able to use the authors name and say so-and-so referred me is better than being generic slush-pile material. But that is a different situation to the one you are talking about.

    The difference is when an author has read the ms and is genuinely referring your ms to the agent, as opposed to referring you. I’m not sure newer unpub authors know/understand the difference.

    Because I have a killer headache and have no idea if I am making sense, I’ll use one of Janet Reid’s posts as an example. Writers might assume you mean #5 on the list.

    Maybe Referral could be added to the dictionary =)

    1. There is definitely a difference between a referral from someone who has read it and from someone who hasn’t. A slight difference. I’ll take both and I’ll take them equally. I don’t expect my clients or anyone else to vet material for me. Not only have I seen not great submissions come from supposedly vetted material, but it’s no one else’s job. A client who appreciates what I do enough to tell others is enough of a referral for me.

      Look at it this way. If I’m hiring a plumber I’m looking for a referral on the quality of work for the person I need to pay to do the job. The plumber, in turn, is not presumably looking to know that I’m going to be a decent enough person to work for or that my job is worth his work. They can determine that on their own.

  2. Many (perhaps most?) agents won’t require a referral to get in touch. You can visit each agency website for their submission guidelines. Otherwise, the best –only– way to get a referral is to connect yourself with other writers in the industry. Making connections, swapping manuscripts, getting to know others, is the only way another writer would even know to refer you to their agent!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.