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.
- 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?)
- 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?)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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?