Our Summer Vacation: Agents

OUR WRITING ROADMAPDuring the course of this summer I’ve been blogging about the process of writing a book. I suspect this topic, agents, will be a multi-post series. Today, let’s talk about how a writer meets/engages  an agent.

First of all, why would an author want to meet an agent? Do we still need them in this new publishing world order?

Agents are conduits to the publishing world. They develop relationships with different houses, and different editors. Some publishers will only take agented work. That is particularly true of the larger houses. Agents negotiate deals for their clients, and help their clients build a career. There are work arounds for having an agent, but my best advice is to do a ton of research on the topic before you make a decision. I am very happy that I have had an agent on my own journey.

Your manuscript is ready to go, and you are looking for an agent. How do you find one?

Do research online and using guides. Don’t pick ten names out of a hat–be strategic. Does the agent you are considering represent the type of work you do? Do they have a stable of clients who write what you write?

Read acknowledgements in the books you read, especially in the genre you write. People often thank their agents. Keep a list.

Before you send a query letter, read their submission policy carefully. If they aren’t taking clients, honor that. If they request ABC, don’t send them XYZ. Tailor each email/letter to that agent. Remember, you are seeking a professional relationship, so treat it professionally.

If you have an opportunity to meet an agent (pitch to them at a conference, for example) take it. Getting to know people as people is an invaluable step that often gets skipped over. My agent and I met long before he was my agent. A friend had me sit next to him at a conference so we could chat. You are going into business with this person, so get to know them.

Be respectful. An agent may turn you down for a number of reasons. They may love your book, but feel like they can’t sell it. In a business where relationships matter, don’t burn bridges.

Getting an agent is only one step on the road to publication. Your work should be ready to go before you line up an agent–if all goes well, they are going to look for a full manuscript. That said, start working on building lists, and relationships, now.


As Julianne Holmes, Julie writes the Clock Shop Mystery series. Clock and Dagger was released on August 2.

9 thoughts on “Our Summer Vacation: Agents

  1. Great post, all very useful advice. May I ask how you feel about self publishing? The tide seems to be turning on this one and I like to get authors opinions. I for one am a new writer, just finishing my first book and want to see it out in the world, thus am wavering on the idea of traditional vs. self just from a time standpoint. As a side note, I adore the shop name Cog and Sprocket! 🙂

    • You are only a debut novelist once in your life, so make sure you are really, really ready to launch yourself. You will be a better writer the more you do it. Is this book really ready to go, or did it teach you how to write a book? My first book was rewritten several times, and went into a drawer when I couldn’t sell it. I reread it recently, and can make the changes that will make it much better. But I had to write three other books (the Clock Shop series) to understand how to fix it.

      Writing is a long game, so think hard before you decide how to move forward. If you do decide to self publish, pay for a developmental editor to help you get it in shape, and a copy editor to fix typos, etc. Don’t skip those steps. Also, put it away for a new weeks to let it rest, and then look at it again with fresh eyes.

      If you self publish you need to make sure the cover art is great, the marketing copy is ready to go,and that you have a good plan for your launch. I have to work on marketing plans too, so having a publisher doesn’t shortcut the entire process, it just gives it more structure.

      Long answer to your question–shorter answer is that self publishing is a route to publication, and has worked well for a lot of people. But do make sure your book is ready to be launched before you put it out in the world–this is your debut as well.

      Congratulations on finishing your book, BTW. Celebrate every milestone. It is a huge accomplishment!

      • Thank you for your input! I absolutely value a good editor and cover art. I want it to be as professional as possible no matter which route I go. 🙂 Thanks again, and hopefully my book will see yours on the shelves or web soon!

  2. Pingback: Building Relationships | Wicked Cozy Authors

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s