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!