During 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.