Why “upstart crow”? What is an upstart crow, anyway?

To begin with, it is an insult slung at the young Shakespeare in 1592 by older, more-established, but less successful playwright Robert Greene. His obvious irritation at the younger artist’s pluck and nerve is, we think, typical of the response of the old guard toward any new talent. There is something in the phrase that speaks of courage and brio and daring, and we feel we should all be upstart crows when it comes to our writing and our work.

Do I really need an agent? Really? Why?

This is a complicated question, and one that could easily inspire an essay in response. (No seriously—Michael wrote an essay about why he loves agents that appeared in a Children’s Writers and Illustrators Market years ago.) But here is a short answer: Most publishing houses have closed their doors to unsolicited manuscripts, so an agent is direly important in getting your work through the front door.

But more importantly, a good agent puts your manuscript in front of the right editors in the house—those whose tastes are attuned to what you do. That’s the agent’s job, to get to know the ins-and-outs of each editor’s tastes at the different houses, something a writer can’t do because she’s busy writing.

As well, an agent handles the ugly business side of the relationship—making sure the author is adequately compensated and that subsidiary rights are aggressively exploited, and more—things that an author shouldn’t be focusing on. The agent insures that the editor/author relationship can remain a pure one, about the work at hand and not why a check is late (or what-have-you).

How do I submit to you?

Please follow the submission guidelines found on our Submissions page.

Do you really read every submission?

We certainly do. If you take the time to consider us and follow our guidelines, we’ll certainly take the time to seriously consider your work.

How much do you charge?

We don’t actually charge anything unless we take you on and make a sale. And then the agency takes the industry standard for domestic sales and subrights. You bet on us like we bet on you: If your book makes money, we make money.

What sorts of books have you sold?

We’ve sold projects ranging from picture books to adult nonfiction, cookbooks and middle grade fantasies and bestselling teen novels. For a complete list of our clients, please see our Authors page.

Will you help edit my book or just sell it?

At Upstart Crow Literary, we’re looking for more than just a quick sell. We work with you on your project until it reaches its full potential.

Do you ever ask for revisions to a project before signing the author?

Yes. Sometimes we’ll see potential in a project but it’s not quite ready for us to take it on. In such a case, we usually ask to revise exclusively with the author.

Are you interested in signing me for just my one brilliant book idea?

Not so much, no. We look to sign author’s careers, not single titles. We want to develop a relationship that will last over an author’s writing lifetime. We’re in it for the long haul.

Do you work under contract?

Yes. We have a standard agency agreement. It is nothing terrifying, just spells out what we do for you, what we’ll expect, and how earnings are split and so forth.

May I speak with any of your clients before signing?

If we offer representation, we’ll be happy to put you in touch with our clients should you have any questions.

Does your agency handle film, foreign, and audio rights?

We do retain these rights when we sell a project, and we have a dedicated team of co-agents in foreign countries and in the film/television community working for us who will handle these rights on your behalf.

How much will you let me know about how my book is being submitted?

We believe in complete transparency at Upstart Crow Literary, especially when it comes to submitting your work. We are happy to share as much or as little information as you’d like.

What happens if one of us wants to end the relationship?

Should either the agent or the author feel that the relationship is no longer working, either has the ability to terminate our agreement with written notice. This is fully explained in the author contract.

Why should I choose Upstart Crow Literary over other agencies?

Good question. Our answer may be a little biased.

We are wholly dedicated to our authors—to helping them publish the best books possible in the very best manner possible. We work on the shaping of the books, on revisions before submission, on longer term career choices … on anything and everything that may come up.

If we offer you representation, its because we feel passionate about your project and your talent, and we want to be the advocate for your work. Read our bios, look at the authors we already represent, and ask about us on the boards (see the Writer’s Toolbox for links to great websites).