Multiple straps on a metallic shoe (available in grape!) for Karen, who writes:
My question is about having multiple agents. Is it common for an author to have another agent to handle foreign rights and if so, would we have to query them in the same manner as with the original agent or would the original agent contact the other agent and say, “Hey, I need you to handle these rights for me?”
Actually, Karen, some authors have more than just another agent for foreign rights — they may have multiple foreign agents, and another one for film rights, too! But that’s more commonly the result of an agreement between the author’s original agent and the subagent, so no, it doesn’t usually fall to the author to line up her foreign rights agent, or her film representation.
To give a more specific example, I represent Maureen Johnson now, although the original deal for her Suite Scarlett series was done when I was at Janklow & Nesbit Associates, so J&N is officially the agent on the underlying agreement. In selling the foreign rights, I work directly in some international territories, and in other countries, work with local subagents. In addition, I also work with Rebecca Mancini, who freelances as a foreign agent for me in other countries. On top of all that, Maureen’s film rights are represented by Kassie Evashevski at United Talent Agency — but everything goes through me, so if Maureen has any questions about her US deal, her foreign rights, or a film offer, all she has to do is contact me.
If you’re looking on Publishers Marketplace and notice a deal for a new book by an author, you may see the sale reported as “by X Agent on behalf of Y Agent,” or “by Q Agent working with Z Agent,” which usually indicates a subagent arrangement (and is common with foreign rights sales) or previous agreement between agencies to handle the sale together. If there’s only one agent listed, it’s usually a direct sale. If you’re tracking a particular author and notice the agent listed on a sale is different than the one you previously associated with that author, it may be that the author and agent have parted ways — in which case, to go back to your original question, the author probably did contact her new agent directly.
Hope that makes sense!