Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Agent Hunt


Like the proverbial needle in the haystack, I am once again an author in search of an agent.

As I polish and revise my current WIP, I'm starting to think about being agented again and what I want in that relationship. I realize my former agent did me a massive good favor - I now have a base line of what I hope to find, what I hope to add, and what I hope to avoid when I sign on the dotted line.

So given that, here are some of my thought processes and the questions I'll be asking potential new agents.


  1. My former agent was a quick reader. I wasn't left waiting for months to hear back on revisions, usually it was a week at the longest. I think in some ways former agent was highly unusual in this regard, but I liked it.  (How long does it take you to read new work or revisions?)
  2. Former agent was an excellent return communicator. I tried to be respectful of not filling up the inbox and would lump questions or thoughts. Return e-mails were always quick, no more than 24 hours and if former agent was out of the office, there would be an auto e-mail. (What kind of communication do you like to have with your clients? Any unspoken rules? How much is too much? Not enough? If I e-mail you, what is a reasonable amount of time for me to expect a return reply?)
  3. Former agent sent me lists of editors being submitted to and forwarded any return communication that addressed the manuscript (pass/R&R/accept e-mails) Will I be kept in the loop during the sub process? Will I know who you are submitting to? Will I receive copies of the e-mails containing their thoughts on the ms?

Now here are a few other things I'll be looking at, either that I didn't have with former agent, or weren't relevant at the time, or I want to be different.

  1. Is the agent social-media savvy? I think this is important as we are expected as authors to have that platform. It's also a nice informal way to keep in touch without being obnoxious.
  2. Does the agent have a good sales record? Are they respected within the industry (sort of a no-brainer and I would say, particularly on the editorial side, my former agent had both)
  3. Does the agent see themselves as career partners with the author? I'm not interested in an agent who only thinks they can sell this one book and if it doesn't fly within their prescribed time they're done with the author/agent agreement.
  4. Are they an editorial agent? If yes, (which is good) how do they feel about an author feeling the need to stick to their guns on certain issues? 
  5. How do they deal with conflict? Though the split with my agent was abrupt, in the long run, it was good. I wasn't left hanging out wondering if I'd done something wrong with no communication.
  6. Finally, what is it about my writing, my story, me, that makes you want to represent me? And also, what is it about you and your agenting that make you the agent for me?
So that's it. If you're searching or happily agented, what is the essential question for you?

19 comments:

  1. It's a big step for you in your journey to publish...deep breath and the best of luck to you! Have a blessed weekend!

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  2. Thanks for this post, Jaye. I think for me, after seeing so many agents/clients part ways, your #3 would be one of my biggest concerns.

    "Does the agent see themselves as career partners with the author? I'm not interested in an agent who only thinks they can sell this one book and if it doesn't fly within their prescribed time they're done with the author/agent agreement."

    I would hope the agent and I could both be patient with each other and not part ways due to lack of sales.

    Good luck in the trenches. I hope it won't be long for you. :)

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    1. As writers we have to remember agents are taking us on based on faith. They make not a dime from their investment of time until we sell a book - so there may always be a time when agents/authors part ways, after all it is a business relationship - but like you, I hope for reasonable longevity.

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  3. So good that you are already formulating your list... And I completely agree that your old agent has done you a huge favor by paving the way for you. In a way, it reminds me of our first relationships: we had no idea what we wanted, because we didn't know what we were looking for. Now you know, and now you understand that you deserve this--and it's an audition for them as much as it is for you. Please keep me posted!!!

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    1. Great analogy and yes, I will have loads more confidence (& maybe a touch of skepticism) the next time I have "the call."

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  4. That's a great list, and it sure is very important to know what you're looking for in an agent, since (s)he will be your partner and the process of publishing. Hope you find someone this time who can push your book and push you closer to the realization of your dream.

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  5. Wonderful, helpful post. This is something I've been thinking about lately, and it's great to here it from someone with experience. I copied it down for future reference - hope you don't mind :)

    Hope you find a good fit!

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  6. A very good list. Best of luck in your hunt. I hope you find an agent who meets all your requirements.

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  7. I have never sought an agent but your list sounds pretty complete. Wishing you the best in your search!

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  8. I, too, am in search of an agent. A "partner in my writing career" is what I am looking for. Great post and those are valuable things to hash over before signing. :)

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  9. I would add this to your list: What will we do if you don't fall in love with my next project(s)?

    Best wishes, Jaye, for a successful hunt. ^_^

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  10. I'm about to begin my agenting search. These are great questions to consider. Good luck to you and enjoy the summer time freedom! School's out, forever . . .

    I love you blog and gave you the Kreative Blogger Award http://www.robin-hall-writes.blogspot.com/2012/05/do-you-have-to-pee.html

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    1. Fun Robin! I'll try and get to it soon.

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  11. Late to the party :)

    I think it's a good idea to meet as many agents in person as possible. It doesn't have to be pitching. A couple of minutes of chat at a round table helps me see if an agent is someone I could potentially mesh with or not. Twitter is almost as good.

    At the conference I went to recently, an agent was late for her talk (like 15 minutes for a 45 minute talk). She didn't say she was sorry or anything about her lateness--and people had had to hunt her down. Is this agent for me? Probably not.

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    1. Yep, overly snarky on Twitter about aspiring writers is a turn-off for me.

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  12. Great pointers. Not sure I have anything to add beyond what's already been said.

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  13. Jaye, thanks. I have a list of questions for a potential agent, but your very first one, about how long it takes the agent to read new work or revisions, wasn't on it. Now it is.

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Hey, do you ever wonder why they call it 'your two cents?'