Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Agent Schmagent

Posted by: Jenna Bayley-Burke

Currently working on: revisions on the category partial, polishing the ST

Waiting on: inspiration to start the category over...again, and edits on the erotica novella

Mood: frustrated, spacey
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This month we're talking about literary agents - why you'd need one and why you'd want one and how to find one. An agent should come with knowledge and relationships with editors at the publishing houses you're targeting. They can tweak contracts, finagle publicity, and help you polish a manuscript until it sells. You can find them all over, from web searches to conferences to writers guidebooks. Finding an agent who believes in your work is hard enough; finding an agent who meets your own set of wants and needs is even harder.

Agent Query is a great place to start your agent search. But simply querying agents who are aquiring what you write isn't enough. You need to research every agency you submit to. Who do they represent, how often do they make sales (check Publlishers Weekly) and how long have their clients been with them.

Whenever possible, talk with authors currently with the agent you're considering. And talk to them off the record. How do you know who's with whom? Publisher's Weekly, the agents website (or blog), asking around, and the deditcation page of the authors books.

Personally, I'll never sign with an agent I haven't met in person. It's expensive to make it to conferences, but invaluable when it comes to making an agent match. Just because someone requests your work doesn't mean you'll work well together long term. Your best idea of that comes from instict, and mine work better in person.

Do you need an agent? Probably. It depends on what you write, where you want your career to go. For ebooks and category romance, they don't have a lot of room to groove. With bigger contracts, an agent can be worth their weight in platinum.

2 comments:

Genene Valleau said...

Hi, Jenna!

Good points about searching for an agent. My instincts also work best face to face. I think I'll have that piece of advice pasted to my forehead when the time comes for me to go agent shopping!

Maggie Jaimeson said...

Having seen writer friends hire and fire agents in a short period of time, I must agree that if you can meet face-to-face it is invaluable. However, I know some great matches that were made electronically and still hold up years later. It's hard to know.