There’s so much focus for aspiring writers on GETTING AN AGENT! I put that in all capitals because, while it’s the necessary first step, I think it’s become a somewhat crazed and desparate process. So maybe my experience (for what it’s worth) will sound counterintuitive, but at least it will allow you take back some of the power and hopefully make a centered, rational decision.
Getting an agent should be all about you. Before you even imagine landing a publishing contract, try to picture the kind of agent you want. A power player in a huge agency? A warm and fuzzy representative who works in a boutique organization? Someone regionally based, perhaps?
Remember, this is the person who will be your face when you send out your work. You will (hopefully) sign a contract with this person, giving them exclusivity. Google him or her. Do your research, and ask the questions you need to. You better make damn sure he or she is one thousand percent honest, brimming with integrity, and worthy of your trust. Editors don’t meet you. They meet your agent.
When I sent my work out, I was looking for someone who “got” me. Someone who I knew I clicked with in terms of humor, values, the way I see the world. And when I read my current agent’s web page, I knew I’d found him. He said he was looking for work that could make him miss his subway stop. It was an offbeat way of putting it, but it’s something I would have said myself.
There are so many things I admire and like about my agent. He’s funny. He absolutely refuses to give up when he believes in something (thank god). When he’s enthusiastic about a project, you can’t help but catch it, too. He’s honest. He does what he says he will, and he’s got this manic energy that makes me want to work hard, too. I totally trust that when he submits my work, he knows exactly what he’s doing and has my best interest at heart, and I know that if there’s an issue with my contract or my publishing house, he’s got my back. Not that he’s not afraid to stick it to me when I need it. No, not at all. I may have met the one person on the planet more stubborn than I am.
So, if you have an agent, treat him or her well! And if you’re looking for an agent, take a deep breath, and consider long and hard what you’re wishing for because you just might get it!
7 Replies to “Love the One You’re With by Deb Tiffany”
“He said he was looking for work that could make him miss his subway stop.” I queried him too, based on the same statement! Alas, it wasn’t a match, but I had my own happy ending, so it’s all good.
Sage advice as always, Tiffany.
Great advice, Tiffany! I think when people are looking for an agent, they often just grab the first warm body that says yes. And unfortunately having a bad agent is worse than no agent at all.
I wanted someone classy, who wasn’t afraid to fight for me–but gave it to me straight. The last thing I wanted was one of those sharks that antagonizes everyone… I already had an editor and I wanted to make sure she was happy with my choice, too. And I’ve had a happy ending, too.
Seconding Meredith. This is great advice. As hard as it is to find an agent, it’s easy to forget that it has to be a good match, on top of everything else.
Deb Tiffany does his name rhyme with man in a car? A good match is really important. It’s hard to know though until you’re married. Kind of like dating – but didn’t the Deb Ball cover that earlier this week? 🙂
Great advice on agent getting–especially making sure the match is right. When I got an agent, I was so proud and honestly, a little smug. I’d made it through the fire! Someone in New York actually LIKED, no LOVED, my book! My story that I’d sweated and slaved over for years, that I nurtured as carefully as I did my own child–oh God, someone actually liked it! But, a few years later, my style changed. My dream agent was still a dream–IF I would only write what he sold. Lesson for those looking for an agent? Hmm. Not sure. But I’ll get back to you if I ever figure it out.
Thank you, Tiffany. I always thought that Truly probably was among the characters to make Agent “miss his subway stop.”
I’ve heard lots of stories about people having to switch agents, for one reason or another. I think many of us have learned the hard way to make sure we’re entering a good partnership for ourselves. Sometimes, it’s better to say no and wait longer than to say yes too fast. Even if it maybe does seem like the dumbest advice in the world. Good luck everyone!
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