Help! Agent recommendations please

Serendipity

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In the next week or so, I'll have finished my final edit on my science fiction novel and will start looking for an agent. I've seen lists and lists of agents, but have no idea how good they are or whether they would like the type of thing I do.

Can anyone recommend an agent who will take on a science fiction novel that only follows normal themes in the background world-building? I've had someone who knows the novel field much better than me read it through, and he says he knows of nothing comparable - there is no this SF theme meets that SF theme I can describe it as, which I know will put a lot of agents off. It is set within the Solar System in the medium term future and the tech is as realistic as I can make it.

Fortunately it is the normal length (c. 96,000 words) for a debut novel!

And to think this novel started out as me having a mad five minutes in typical pussy cat fashion! Phew!
 

CTRandall

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What do you mean by "follows normal themes in the background world-building"? Is the scifi aspect window dressing on a drama, crime thriller or romance story? If so, that should fit fine with a lot of other stories that are out there. After all, the best scifi stories are nothing more than stories about people. In space. :alien:

Also, are you in North America, UK/Europe or somewhere else? Probably best not to send to a UK agent if you're based in the US. Answer that question and folk might be able to offer concrete suggestions.
 

Serendipity

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Many thanks CTRandall.

I live in the UK.

Let's cut to the chase in answering your question - there is a lot of science stuff in my novel that I haven't seen in other science fiction - a case where a few details make a notable difference to the story - the implications just snowballed out of control. Hence the novel. When it comes to the background history of how humanity got to where it got to at the start of story, it's the standard going out into the Solar System to exploit minerals and colonisation of Mars etc. The tech up to that point also follows the same expected developmental curve.
 

HareBrain

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I've seen lists and lists of agents, but have no idea how good they are or whether they would like the type of thing I do.

Unfortunately pretty much everyone is in this boat. Probably the best first approach is to track down agents who represent hard SF novels/authors and submit to them (those who are open to subs at all). It probably won't be possible to narrow it down any further, but you can submit to several at once, so don't worry if any don't seem an exact fit for your book.

And if you've never approached an agent before, do a ton of reading around how best to submit. There are many dos and don'ts. The main "do" would be "read their submission requirements", but apart from that, there are whole websites devoted to the art of the query letter, etc.
 

Tirellan

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John Jarrold, Juliet Mushens, Max Edwards, Ed Wilson, Samuel Hodder, Sandra Sawicka, Anne Perry
 
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Serendipity

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Many thanks Harebrained and Tirellan. All very good advice. I don't know how Tirellan did it, but he/she must know the type of science fiction I write!
 

Juliana

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Also, once you have a few names, do the research. Look them up on Twitter, if they have an account. Do an online search for any interviews they might have given. Look on the Absolute Write forum (you don't have to be a member for this) for mentions of them. It helps to get a better feel for what they're like as agents. And like HB said, check the submission guidelines!!!!!! There can be differences, and when agents mention pet peeves in interviews etc that's pretty much the main one.

Good luck! (Not adding any names because I don't really know the UK agent 'scene'.)
 

Serendipity

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Heavens, my timing is lousy - one agency has reported a 60 per cent rise in submissions before they stopped taking submissions during the cover crisis. Other agents and some publishers have also stopped taking submissions. (I'm off to have a little cry in a corner somewhere!)
 

JohnM

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When looking for an agent, look for their track record. If they've been around for longer than a few years, and if they accept SF, then give them a try. However, patience is still a virtue. And remember that you are literally standing in line behind a number of others who have the next best novel :)

Some agents are US or UK only, while some are international. There is no better or worse time to send in a submission. Just send it in.

In the US, two vaccines are racing toward approval, and other countries are looking to get them.
 

Serendipity

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Wow, really? :(

I'm hoping to start querying too in a month or so (will probably leave for January), so that's not great news. Is this just UK agents or US too?

I've only looked at UK agents for now. And as you know, my genre is science fiction and so limited my search to that. There are some agents who accept fantasy and not science fiction.
 

Juliana

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If they've been around for longer than a few years, and if they accept SF, then give them a try.

Although I've read that it can be a good idea to look for newer agents (who are actively building their lists) from established agencies (so you know they have a good structure and network to back them)...
 

Serendipity

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As I understand it, there are now a large number of lockdown novels trying to find a home (the vast majority won't, of course), so you might have to wait a while for them to clear the system.
Some publishers have delayed publishing their novels during the pandemic - so there is also a backlog with some publishers. So authors have two backlogs to deal with, one with the agents and the other with the publishers. Realistically, at best it's going to take several years to get back to normal.
 

Tirellan

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Although I've read that it can be a good idea to look for newer agents (who are actively building their lists) from established agencies (so you know they have a good structure and network to back them)...
I agree with this - provided they have a good background.
This worked for me.
 

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