home           about           reviews           author insight           review policy

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Author Insight: Getting an Agent

What was the agenting process like for you, and what's your best advice for someone seeking representation?

"I would never EVER recommend that someone go about getting their first agent like I did mine. Do your research and above all, query more than one agent, even the ones you think will never, ever notice you. Also, remember agents get hundreds of query letters. HUNDREDS. And that's on the low side. Keep your query very short and to the point--look at it this way--if you have to read tons and tons of emails, what will grab you? The endless email, or the one that comes right to the point? As someone who once had to deal with over 300 emails a day, I can tell you that the emails that get right to the point, that don't dance around or go on and on--those are the ones that grab you because so few people can do it!"- Elizabeth Scott, author of Grace.

"Ask around. Authors may tell you straight up most of the time who reps them and why they like or dislike them." - Heidi Kling, author of Sea.

"My hunt for my first agent was very short and boring, about six weeks from start to finish.  I got a lot of "just didn't fall in love with its" from people who read, and two offers from agents who did.  My advice is to start writing your query letter early.  A good query should go through as many drafts as your book does.  Never submit until both are perfect." - Scott Tracey, author of Witch Eyes.

"I found the agenting proccess both exhilirating and frustrating. I am lucky that I made a real connection with my agent but I received plenty of rejections too. I would tell aspiring authors to really do their research and find out what an agent is looking for and while you are waiting for an agent, don't stop writing, keep on honing your craft." - Danielle Joseph, author of Indigo Blues.

"We had an atypical experience, in that Pseudonymous Bosch, my oldest friend and the writer of The Name of This Book is Secret, (The Secret Series) gave our ms to his agent, the incomparable Sarah Burnes at The Gernert Company. She picked up the book and ran with it. My advice, though, is what Sarah says: Make sure the draft is Teflon, air-tight, bullet-proof. You only get one read." - Margaret Stohl, co-author of Beautiful Creatures.

"My agenting process was dreamy.  Rosemary Stimola  works at lightning speed.  She requested a full manuscript less than 24 hours after I queried her.  A week later she asked for edits.  Even with the month it took for me to edit, she took about 8 weeks from first contact to signed contract.  Many of the agents I had queried hadn't even responded to me by then.  Then, she sold Split at auction three weeks later." - Swati Avashti, author of Split.

"My agenting process involved querying for three novels before finding an agent for Other, and I did so in a rather roundabout way. Everybody finds an agent in a slightly different way, so I would just suggest to research well and try smarter, not harder." - Karen Kincy, author of Other.

"My experience was a good one.  The query process was mercifully neat and quick, and this segues nicely into my advice: do your research.  I spent a long time researching agents—I'm talking months.  I read as many interviews as I could find, I read books by their clients, forum threads dedicated to them—anything to give me a sense of what they were like and what they were *really* looking for, beyond the usual two-sentence genre descriptions.  Then I only sent queries to people who genuinely seemed right for my specific book." - Brenna Yovanoff, author of The Replacement.

"I tried several years ago to get an agent and failed miserably after months of querying.  I realized my writing wasn’t ready yet for an agent so I went back to just writing for a couple of years.  When I felt my story really was ready, I did very thorough research and queried who I thought was the #1 best agent for my book first—and two weeks later I had an agent.  (I queried about six other agents in the meantime.) Believe me, I was shocked it happened so quickly this time." - Bree Despain, author of The Dark Divine.

"I made a lot of mistakes while querying, but in defense of all mistake-makers, much of this process is trial and error. We learn from our mistakes. Before I wrote Angelfire, I queried the book I wrote when I was sixteen and had a phone conversation with my now agent, Elizabeth Jote, who gave me amazing advice for that book and told me to send her another. So I wrote Angelfire, send it to her, and she enjoyed it enough and believed in me enough to sign me. Everything works out the way it’s meant to and I wouldn’t have changed any of the mistakes I made while querying, because I wouldn’t want my path to have turned out any differently than it has. My advice for queriers is to have patience. Take your time. Don’t query a project until it’s ready and find a bunch of beta readers you trust who will help you decide when a project is ready." - Courtney Allison Moulton, author of Angelfire.

"I was lucky. I got my publisher before I got my agent. I’d made a list of my top choices and I contacted the one I wanted most and talked to her about a lot of things concerning what I wanted of my career and my future vision and we matched up well. So she took me on. My best advice? Don't settle for a crap agent. Find someone you can work with who believes in you and your writing. Never give up. Keep persevering." - Diana Pharaoh Francis, author of Bitter Night.

"My agent search was one of the most harrowing experiences of my life.  I kid you not.  I received more than 150 rejections over the course of two years and two manuscripts.  Looking back, I'm shocked--SHOCKED!--that I didn't give up.  But that's my advice right there.  If this is something you really want to do, don't give up.  Revise when you need to revise, start a new project when it's time to retire your current one, and keep trying, trying, trying." - Mindi Scott, author of Freefall.

"The best advice I ever got about this was as follows: when you have the right project, finding an agent is a straightforward process. This is so true. I had submitted four projects before I submitted Secret Society Girl. I got good rejection letters, the "please send us something else" kind, but no one was wild about anything. Then I submitted Secret Society Girl and had my first offer within an hour. No tricks. It was the right project. So my advice is as follows: 1) Focus on writing the best book you can. 2) Research the agents and craft a targeted query to each agent you submit to. 3) If you aren't getting nibbles from your query, it's your query skills: go back to the drawing board. 4) If you aren't getting offers on your book, it's probably the book. Write another one (better, more marketable, whatever). Remember: your career is going to be about many books, not just one." - Diana Peterfreund, author of Rampant.

"For me, getting an agent was the hardest part of the whole publishing process. The best advice I can offer is don't give up. Everything happens at a different time and in a different way for each author. Try not to beat yourself up because your path is longer than someone else in your writing group. Eventually you will find that agent who loves your story as much as you do." - Anastasia Hopcus, author of Shadow Hills.

" I had a very, very unusual path to getting agented. I had been making teeny, tiny changes to my manuscript for about a month when the opportunity to enter the Backspace Contest presented itself. I wasn’t sure if I should enter because I didn’t know if my book was really, truly, 100% FINISHED—I’m one of those people. But my friend Stephanie told me she wouldn’t be friends with me anymore if I didn’t enter. And I couldn’t afford to lose her.  So I entered, and not only did I win, but my agent found me in the entry pile before I had sent out a single query. The full story is here." - Michelle Hodkin, author of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.

"I sold Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different without an agent, and I decided that I wanted one after going through the experience solo. (It was a fine experience, but I knew how much I didn’t know once I received that 10-page contract!)  I saw Tracey Adams of Adams Literary speak at an SCBWI conference, and she not only mentioned a love of historical fiction, but said that the agents at Adams Literary want to represent authors, not books.  I found that very appealing.  I studied their website, then queried them with Selling Hope. Josh Adams, who I now refer to as SuperAgent, represents me.  I love working with Adams Literary; I truly feel like our goals align.  My advice to those seeking representation is to really listen to what agents are saying – on their websites, in their Twitter feeds, at conferences.  Do their goals/personalities/work styles match yours? Can you work closely with that person for dozens of years on multiple projects? If yes, query them.  If no, keep looking." - Kristin Tubb, author of Selling Hope.

Come back Thursday to find out how the rest of the authors found their agents and learn what advice they have for those seeking agents.
<< Previous

1 comment:

  1. Really interesting to read all their agent stories! Some great advice was given too. Can't wait to read the others.