Dream Agent or the Right Agent?

Let’s say you’ve written and polished a great manuscript. You’ve written a killer query/pitch and you’ve worked hard to build your platform. By now you are likely to have a “dream” agent in mind. But before you begin agent shopping, consider the differences between the dream agent and the right agent for you.
Writing Tip for Today: While many writers think that dream agent will be a perfect match, I’ve heard horror stories from authors who snagged that top-tier agent and yet parted ways. Sometimes, the dream agent and the right agent for you are different people. What qualities should you look for?

  • Transparency about sales. The right agent always is open about who they rep and the books they’ve sold. Dig deeper, though. The agent should have sold books to traditional, royalty-paying publishers, and the publishers should not accept submissions from unagented writers unless there is a special circumstance. CBA agents should be well-known and have their finger on the current trends of the industry.
  • In with the In Crowd. For mainstream agents (that is, not Christian Booksellers Association) membership in the AAR (Association of Author Representatives) is a must. Brand-new agents should work for a firm with AAR members.
  • Your genre? Most market guides contain lists of the areas agents represent. Be sure to do a little homework before you begin shopping.
  • On the Map? Traditionally, the best agents live or work from New York City. For secular agents, this is still mostly true, although the Internet is making location less relevant. If you work in proximity with editors, you can sell them over lunch. CBA agents seem to be concentrated in Colorado Springs, Nashville or California. Colorado Springs has become a hub for many Christian publishers as is Nashville. California or West Coast? Just because they can.
  • Personality Clash? Some writers prefer a hands-on agent, while others want contact only when necessary. Be sure you get along with your agent and more importantly, be sure your potential agent is very enthused about not only the “property” (your manuscript) but also is excited about you as a writer. The right agent tends to think about your career more than whether or not he/she can make money from your first book.

About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

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