What makes a specific agent your DREAM agent? You can research agencies, but you need to discover how that agency works and what the individual agent that connects to your work expects. The best method I’ve found is networking with other authors. Word of mouth. Experience from other writers. Reputations, not gossip.
It’s seems to be as hard to find an agent to represent your work as it is to find an editor to publish your work. And in today’s market, it’s difficult to find a publishing house that will look at un-agented material (with the exception of contest finalists). So writers query. I have to admit that I was one of the lucky ones to get my “dream agency” without the query process. In fact, I’ve been fortunate to have representation offered twice without real solicitation on my part. I won contests or had requests which had my work in front of editors each time. My focus was to catch editors and agents eyes through contests.
Why do you even want an agent?
Leslie, my friend and published author, summed up why she needs an agent: “I want an agent for several reasons. They know who is looking for what type of story. They help me get my foot in the door at some houses that only take agented submissions. They know how to negotiate contracts. And I want someone on my side who is not responsible for paying me for the work. The differences in agents is the very personality and style of the person involved. I wanted someone who would be a cheerleader, who would feel comfortable communicating with me when I needed it, and who would encourage me to do more. My previous agent was very methodical and submitted, but only to a few editors at a time and would wait months to check in with them, then seemed annoyed when I would ask the status. My new agent, seems to be more enthusiastic. She has said I can call or email whenever. And, in fact, has called me several times to discuss something I emailed her about. She is excited to meet me in person for lunch. I don't think my first agent was a BAD agent. I just think her style didn't suit my needs.” ~~Leslie Dicken <http://lesliedicken.com/>
I too have my second agent. My first agent and I had a good relationship. It was my life that interfered with my lack of writing (graduating two girls in consecutive years from high school) which caused us to part, but we remain friends. In fact she sent me congratulations when I sold HILL COUNTRY HOLDUP.
In 2009, I began concentrating on my career again and really paid attention to the talk about agents from my fellow writers. My “research” had more to do with the relationships writers had instead of a track record of sales. After ten years in this business, I knew that I needed someone to be in my corner, to fight for me, but also to have someone who would give me their opinion on what might be wrong with my story. In other words, I wanted someone who didn’t mind giving their opinion on if the story was ready for submission.
Of course I’m never confident in my work. I am a writer, after all.
As much as I love the aspect of having an extra opinion of my work, there are authors who prefer the opposite. Here’s what friend and author Kathleen Long says about her agent: “I trust her. She's intelligent, knows the market, is well-respected and doesn't try to edit me. We both agree that's what your editor is for. I spent a little time with another agent who believed in line editing. That changed the work and my voice. Lesson learned. Not for me!” ~~Kathleen Long <http://www.kathleenlong.com/>
I plan on writing for Harlequin/Silhouette. I like their distribution. I like the built-in book club sales. I like the advance and payout. And I like their foreign sales. It’s a basic boiler-plate contract, so why did *I* need an agent? Honestly, I didn’t. But my friend and Blaze author Tawny Webber summed it up beautifully: “I believe having an agent in your corner is a smart career move. An agent is a go-between, is the person who nudges an editor when contracts are late, money isn’t released, things are sagging. I also knew that as much as I love writing for Blaze, at some point I’d want an agent to shop single title for me. Someone who knew me, my writing and my strengths and would be able to help me make career choices as well as the best sell for my story.” ~~Tawny Weber
When I sold my manuscript in November, my husband was quick to point out that most writers don’t sell a second book because writing becomes a business. It’s as life their muse leaves and an accountant sits on their shoulder instead. It’s all about making money, instead of sharing your stories. Well, an agent is the person who handles all the business for me. As much as I love talking with my editor, I hate dealing with the business. I freeze up, have to read a script (not kidding), and just babble. I really enjoy having an agent.
My fellow Golden Heart finalist stated she chose her dream agent “because of her wonderful mix of professionalism, experience, enthusiasm, and compassion. She's a hands-on agent who puts her years as an editor with top houses and big name authors to work for her clients. And she's one happening force in the publishing world. She had four deals hit Publishers Marketplace last week and has several more that will appear in the next few weeks.” ~~Keli Gwyn <http://www.keligwyn.com/>
The most important part of finding an agent an editor is what Sharon, another fellow Golden Heart finalist, stated what she looked for: An agent “is experienced and has a recognized/respected name, but is still responsive and attentive to every client. More important than that: They must love my writing and my project.” ~~Sharon Fisher
In a nutshell, network with other authors, discover the pros and cons of the type of agent you think you want, and make certain the agent LOVES your writing. If they love it, they’ll want to build you a career--not just sell your book.
The simple answer to finding your DREAM EDITOR? It’s the editor who relates to your work and offers to purchase your manuscript.
‘Til next time,
Some upcoming topics of discussion:
-An On-Going Behind the Scene Look at Getting Ready for Publication
(promotion, character sheets, log-lines, bios, etc.)
-My Hero Has Brown Hair?
-Targeting Your Book & Choosing Your Market
-Seeing Your Cover For The First Time