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This is still all in the realm of the hypothetical, but given that it becomes closer to the reality, I'm very curious...

Let's say you have two new, previously unpublished and unrepresented authors who produced a collaborative novel. Let's say an agent was really interested in the novel. Would the fact that said novel was written by two people be a point against the agent picking the project up? I understand that agents don't represent books, but the writers themselves, so I have to wonder if this scenario would be problematic.

  • Great question, though you're unlikely to get a good answer here - I don't imagine there are too many agents lurking on writers.SE :) I'd suggest you ask an agent - maybe on twitter. If you find a good answer, I hope you post it here! – micapam Oct 30 '13 at 0:50
  • Thanks for the suggestion, I will continue my search for an answer and if I get one, I'll follow up! – Kale Oct 31 '13 at 18:51
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From the perspective of a reader, I see no issue with it as long as the story is good; I've read a number of books written by multiple authors, but these are written by known authors. Still this implies that there is no particular issue with multi-authored novels.

A few examples:

The Empire Trilogy by Janny Wurts and Raymond E Feist
Good Omens by Terry Pratchet and Neil Gaiman

More here: http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/24000.Best_Books_Written_By_Two_Authors


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  • Yeah, I've read and enjoyed quite a few books by multiple authors as well, but like you just observed these books are typically written by previously well known writers who presumably already have agent representation and/or the system well worked out. My primary worry (should I ever get to the point of trying to pitch my book) is that any agent I pitch too would be picking up two unknown authors in one fell swoop. Oh well. :) Thanks for the link! – Kale Oct 29 '13 at 15:59
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Old question, but it popped up in my feed so figured I'd answer for future viewers.

It's true that agents don't represent books, they represent authors, but publishers buy books, not authors.

For that reason, I can't see an agent shying away from a great novel just because two authors had written it. If they see it selling, they'll represent it because they'll want their cut.

Agents take a cut of the publishing deal. So, if both authors are unrepresented, the agent would want to represent both authors and take a cut of the publishing advance. E.g. if they sold the book for a £100,000 advance, they'd take their 15% cut and divide what remains of the advance (and future royalties) between the two authors.

Things could get complicated if each author had/wanted separate representation. Whichever agent secured the publishing deal would want 15% of the entire deal and the other agent might feel they were losing out. The agents would have to agree to the collaboration and come to an arrangement. That could make them pause for thought.

Once that book is sold, I imagine an agent would be happy to represent each author individually for their future projects.

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