Part of my pursuit involves finding the right agent. That is a journey all in itself.
So why an agent now? My first two romance novels and my children’s books were published by “small publishing houses” without an agent. I had decided if I were to pursue a writing career, I needed to know more about publishing. Choosing that path assured I had to be more actively involved and I learned a great deal especially from my Lyrical Press editor, Mary Murray.
Now with the series, I want to follow a more traditional route and that requires the skills and expertise of an agent. Yes, writers can do it all—find a publisher, set up marketing goals, but I found with the first two books, I am lacking some skills to be successful and I don’t have the same knowledge as an agent.
Agents who have worked in the publishing industry—either as interns or editors or agents—know better how to present material and to what publishers. Agents have spent time with publishers; have polished skills that I have not. I don’t talk with publishers regularly, I have not fine-honed negotiating skills.
I am looking for a long-term collaborative relationship with an agent. I need an agent’s skills; the agent needs a marketable book.
THE SEARCH: My how-to
Many resources are available about agents. Find the ones you are comfortable with, find helpful and start your lists. I read Publishers Lunch , Book Notes, Poets & Writers as well as New York Times Book Review and RT to check out what’s written, who is writing what and what’s a good read.
WFWA has an agents’ list, RWA has resources, 1000 agents list and Karen Fox has a list. Check out Agent Query and Query Tracker, Publishers’ Marketplace and of course, Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents. Search your resources and find the agents who represent what you write!. This is critical. If they don’t want romance and yours has romantic elements, look for someone else. Compile a list of possibilities.
Janet Reid and I exchanged retorts about Jack Reacher and a few emails followed. I love Janet’s sense of humor and her dedication to writers and publishing.(She spends a lot of hours advising writers who aren’t hers.) If she is that dedicated to so many writers, can you imagine how she is with authors she represents?) Alas, she doesn’t represent WF. Alas, I can’t help her find Jack.
I search multiple sites available for locating agents, and then I read interviews, blogs and articles. What do there authors say about them? Are they mentioned in authors’ dedication/acknowledgements? What does he/she indicate is ideal client in blogs or interviews? Agent-Author is a give-n-take relationship. In addition to the obvious question, do they represent WF, the next most important question is: Is this someone with whom I could work?
One of my favorite spots is #MSWL. Authors, agents, editors comments in rapid without boundaries. Better feel for the author in blogs and twitter than interviews. An agent who professes, “I love my job, family…” gets my attention faster than answers in a prescribed interview. I have been researching, reading blogs, pursuing Twitter and compiling my lists.
I also attended a webinar on pitches to agents and recognized two methods of finding an agent—the selective or broadcast. Sending out 40-100 queries to me is writing career sabotage. I want an agent who fits my needs and I match his or her interests. It is a professional relationship; I don’t have to be buddies, but I am looking for someone I can work with for years. And the agent is selling me—not just a product, my book. I am not a one book author.
I have tiers of agents. Have I sent out to agents already? Yes. Probably before, I should have. I had two rejections that passed each other in cyber space. I had two letters, which detailed why not. They didn’t want to commit, but they had read the book—or most of it. The comments were helpful. Hence, maybe I should have waited to send out. Lesson learned.
I have taken two “classes” on query, synopsis and first ten pages. I have worked again with my critique partner and am pleased with improvements in letter and especially the dreaded, diabolical one-page synopsis. I have my list of agents–the five I am really interested in working with.
And so it begins. Stay tuned and I will keep you posted on my quest for an agent. Is it scary? Yes. Exciting, yes. Frustrating? That most of all, I am preparing the letters. One will sit in my draft box until the agent returns from vacation.
In the meantime, I am writing book two of the series, Swept Away.
Are you searching for an agent? What are your steps? If you have an agent, what was your journey? If you are an agent, any advice? What are you looking for?