Co-Agenting and What It Means

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Jun 19 2008

I was asked recently what happens when two authors with different agents finish a project together. And that’s a great question. What happens then is called a co-agented deal, and BookEnds has done a number of them.

Typically, once both agents have read and approved of the project, the agents will start talking to discuss a marketing/submission strategy. Sometimes they will divide up a list of houses and contacts and submit separately (knowing, of course, who is submitting where and to whom) and other times one agent will take the lead, doing much of the submitting, but consulting with the other along the way.

When the offer (or offers) comes in the agents will again consult and handle the deal together. Usually one agent is the go-to person for the editor, but the co-agent of course has an opinion every step of the way. When all is said and done, and a deal has been finalized, both agency clauses will appear in the contract specifying which client is responsible for which agent’s commission, etc.

This is very similar to how many foreign and movie rights are sold by smaller agencies (like BookEnds). We have co-agents we work with in a number of countries. These agents work in their respective countries to sell our titles, and when a deal comes through they consult with us throughout the course of negotiations. In this case, though, the fee is split between the agents.

Keep in mind, co-agenting is great if you and a writing friend decide you have just one or two projects you’d like to do together. If, however, you think of yourself as an author team who plans on writing all or most of your work together, you will not need two separate agents. In that case I would advise querying your one project together and finding one agent you both feel happy and comfortable with.


5 responses to “Co-Agenting and What It Means”

  1. Avatar kelley says:

    ty! But, I’m curious what happens when an author is already agented, but wants to collaborate on a project with an author who isn’t? Would your agent rep you both in that case? Like a one-off thing for the other writer?

  2. Avatar Robena Grant says:

    I am light years away from collaborating with anyone so am a bit niave about all of this. Why do authors do it, and why do they write novella anthologies? Is it to keep the name out there while they’re writing another bigger book on their own? It seems to me it would be a lot more work trying to blend the two voices, work through the kinks, etc. or fit into the theme of an anthology if that wasn’t where your heart was. Plus the money side of it would be a lot less, right? Is it just for fun? Whew! So many questions. Any writers out there with answers?

  3. Avatar Robena Grant says:

    That’s interesting, Mandy. Thanks.
    I seldom buy anthologies. I love to sink my teeth into a big book. Plus, I’m a fast reader so the shorter books just leave me wanting. I’ve always wondered what the author got out of it, though.

  4. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Robena, anthologies don’t have to be the same voice AT ALL. Typically they just share a theme (magic high heels, vampires, whatever) and each author writers their own novella.

    Many writers have ideas for stories that simply aren’t full length, and an anthology is perfect. It can also increase name recognition if a bigger name is headlininng the anthology.

    FYI, on collaborating, it gets complicated becuase BOTH writer’s agents have to be into it, and sometimes they feel differenlty or one wants revisions or what not. I cowrote a project with my critique partner, and we’re both published through major NYC houses, and it been languishing for almost a year while we work on our own projects and try to find time to revise it to meet each agent’s vision…and on top of that, we’ll probably have to use pen names in order to avoid the option clauses in our contracts!


  5. Avatar Nancy D'Inzillo says:

    Supposing two writers decide they are a team and do want to find an agent together: is that conventional? Are there many agents who will pick up a writer team? If they wanted to write separately (or already did so) and wanted to work on a big project as a team, but also keep their own projects going individually, would it be possible to have an agent for each and then an agent for both (three agents: one for each, and one for the two together)?