Wednesday, November 12

Finding The Right Fit

I'm going to start this post with a disclaimer: I'm in not a Professional Agent Hunter. I've had one agent in my career and I love her. She gets my writing, she gets me and she works hard. What works for me, though, may not work for you. Okay, we can get on with things.

For all the fun parts of writing there are - creating, researching, extreme situations - there are also not-so-fun parts. There are the rejections from publishers. There are bad reviews. There is the slush pile. Sure, The Call is amazing. Sure, it's a wonderful feeling to write The End and know that it's good. Getting from good to sold sometimes is out of the hands of the writer. All we can do is make the book as good as it can be.

Many writers choose to agent to separate the more business-y side of writing from the more creative. I didn't have an agent when I first sold, but I do have one now and I have to say that I love having an agent. I like that there is someone in my corner fighting for me. I love having someone to talk to about the business side of things. My agent is a great fit for both the writer side of Kristina and the business side of Kristina.

The thing is a bad agent can do more harm to your writing career than anything else. So, how do you choose a good agent? And more than that, how do you know an agent is the right fit for you? Here are  my tips:

1. Do your research. Sites like Publishers Weekly, Agent Query and Preditors & Editors have amazingly good information about agents. They can tell you what the agent sells and how often they've sold. You should also look at the agent's website -- what do they want? who do they rep? Read their blogs, Twitter and Facebook feeds...although they'll most likely write about the business, you can get a feel for their personality, interests, etc. through these places. That will give you hint at your compatibility.

2. Figure out where you'll fit on a roster. You're a great romantic suspense author. You've done your research and you think you've picked the best agent. Do one more check: how many authors do they rep in your particular category. If he (or she) has several authors in your same category it could mean they're more than covered. Why would you want an agent who already has authors 'just like you'? What will make you different to that agent? What will they say to the editor they're already contacting about 14 other authors that will make your book -- and you! - stand out?

3. Get a feel for the agent. After you query and when that agent calls to represent you, ask some questions. Know where you want to go -- your career arc. Ask how that agent will get you there, ask why they want you, ask anything. Just ask questions. Okay, don't ask what they had for dinner last night, but ask them questions. All sorts of questions so that you get a feel for the agent's personality, business, etc. Ask, ask, ask.

Those are my tips. I'm sure there are more, but these are mine. Those of you who have agents - add your tips in the comments!

4 comments:

  1. I think research is crucial--even just at the query stage. I think that most writers are just looking for that initial validation--and agent interest is a key component of that--that they may not do a strong research before they shoot off their queries.

    One years--many, many moons ago, okay, like ten--l signed up for three consults at the Willamette Writer's Conference. Well, one ended up being a cancellation, so I had to pick another agent on the spur of the moment Unfortunately, the agents who handled YA were full and that was before every agent and their mother was handling YA (yep, that many moons ago)

    So, I took the only agent available. Someone I'd never heard of. And it was a fifteen minute solo pitch. I sat down and began my pitch and she stopped me after like three sentences and told me that she didn't want it.

    Seriously? I had like thirteen minutes of my pitch time left. Stunned, I just sat there trying to decide if I should stay or stalk out of the room.

    Well, the thought of leaving before everyone else mortified me, so I pitched her my middle grade book I'd written the year before. And she said, "IF you change this, this, and this, then I'd look at it."

    I left the table thinking, "No way in hell am I ever working with you."
    When I got home to my computer I googled this agent and found out she had horrible reviews, didn't have an office, and maybe even worked out of her car.

    So, do your research ahead of time is the moral of this long-winded story :)

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  2. Oh, that's awful, Margie! But you're right - research ahead of time!

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