Searching for an Agent — What To Consider
In today’s competitive writing market, many authors are seeking an agent, and with good reason. Most major publishing houses accept agent-only submissions, which nearly closes the door to unagented work. In addition, contracts are written to favor the publishing houses. A good agent not only deciphers the legal jargon, but negotiates a solid publishing contract for an author’s book(s) that increases their royalties as well as other benefits. Before you begin searching for an agent, here are some tips to consider:
-Your type of agent, would they be hands-on or strictly selling your work? What type of writer are you? It’s important to know if you want an agent who will brainstorm with you or an agent who receives your work and markets it without intervention. When you’re researching an agent or meeting with them in an interview, ask how in-depth they work with an author.
-Do want an agent for a certain category of book or for all of your work? Some agents will prefer to market a certain category of book while others will want to represent all that you write.
-Is the agent you’re targeting respected in the industry? An important fact to consider when searching for an agent is to find out if the agent/agency is reputable. In addition to asking other writers, a good place to begin checking out an agent/agency’s reputation is:
Predators & Editors: http://www.anotherealm.com/prededitors/
-Meet your agent. If possible, I encourage authors to meet with agents they are seriously considering to represent them. We learn a tremendous amount about a person by meeting them face-to-face. At times, within the first few seconds, we know if we like the person, or if there’s something about them that would bother us. It’s better to learn that you and a potential agent don’t click before you spend your time and $ submitting to them.
-Agent interviews. In the past, when I met with an agent, I’d already done my homework. I knew what type of author the agent represented, what lines they tended to target with client submissions, and anything else I could find out about them. Since these were professional meetings, I ensured I did my homework so neither of us was wasting the other’s time. So, take time to write down what’s important to you in an agent, then find agents to consider who fit your requirements.
-The agent is a representative of you. Regardless of where your agent works and lives, once you sign with them, they represent you. As you consider each potential agent ask yourself, is this a person that I would want representing me? Could their mannerisms turn off editors?
-Communication. It’s essential that you have mutual respect with your agent, and that you’re comfortable talking with them, sharing your story ideas, as well as your writing goals and career moves. If you disagree with an agent’s marketing strategy or anything else, in a professional manner you need to be able to express that. What good is having an agent who you don’t dare to upset or can’t talk to?
-A bad agent is worse than no agent. As anxious as authors are to sign with an agent, having a bad agent—a person who isn’t submitting your work, an agent who isn’t fighting for super deals on your behalf, or an agent who doesn’t follow-up with editors—is worse than having no agent at all. Your manuscript, work that’s taken you months if not years to write, is tied up with this agent. Depending on your contract, it could take a long time, if ever, to remove a non-effective agent from a specific manuscript. Do everything you can prior to signing a contract to assure yourself that your agent will work for you, personally and professionally.
-Parting ways with your agent. At times in our careers, things happen where we decide to part with an agent. Before you sign with an agent, read and understand what you are agreeing to, and know the procedures necessary if ever you decide to break from that agent/agency.
-Never settle. As authors, we work too hard in writing our novels to ever settle. I don’t care how tough the market is, how fierce the competition, wait, do your homework and don’t sign with an agent until you’re over the moon about them and they are over the moon about you. You want an agent who believes in you 110%. Their excitement and enthusiasm for your work comes through as discuss your stories with their colleagues and when they pitch your novel to numerous editors. It’s this excitement, this belief in you that will have your agent working overtime to help you achieve success.
My sincere best to each and every one of you as you continue forward in your writing careers. I wish each and ever one of you the very best!
Agent, Holly Root
More About Diana Cosby
A retired Navy Chief, AGC(AW), Diana Cosby is an international bestselling author of Scottish medieval romantic suspense. Her award-winning MacGruder Brother books are available in five languages. Diana has spoken at the Library of Congress, Lady Jane’s Salon in NYC, and appeared in Woman’s Day, on USA Today’s romance blog, “Happy Ever After,” MSN.com, Stars & Stripes, Atlantic County Women Magazine, and Texoma Living Magazine.
After her career in the Navy, Diana dove into her passion – writing romance novels. With 34 moves behind her, she was anxious to create characters who reflected the amazing cultures and people she’s met throughout the world. With the release of her 6th book in the bestselling MacGruder Brothers series, she’s now working on the 1st book in her new Scottish medieval The Oath trilogy, “An Oath Taken,” which will be released December 8th, 2014. In addition, she’s excited about the upcoming release of the MacGruder Brother series box set early in 2015.
Diana looks forward to the years of writing ahead and meeting the amazing people who will share this journey.