A rundown on agent relationships

If you want to find an agent, it can be a minefield. Finding which agents to submit to is a real project in itself and each submission probably needs to be reformatted to suit the agent in question (it’s no different to a job application). Once you have them in your sights, there’s a process to follow and hopefully, these handy hints will help.

In the first instance, agent Janet Reid says, “don’t ever email to ask if an agent is accepting new clients. It doesn’t work like this.” She isn’t a doctor or dentist with a certain number of slots to fill. She says you should just send the query. If they like it, they’ll get in touch. Simple as that. 

She argues that it probably isn’t ever effective to incorporate parts of the novel into a query to illustrate something or other, e.g. dialogue, etc. and offers some advice here on what would be the right word count for most genres that agents are willing to see (start on 50K and work up to around 100K for most genres).

There’s a very funny post here on how to tell if yours is an “agent or a schmagent” from Adventures in Agentland, running through how to recognise a “spaghetti” agent (throws everything out there hoping something might stick) or a “dinosaur” agent (nearly extinct). If you’re not sure whether to go with an agent or not (because you’re unsure of the agent), click here (Janet Reid) – the quick answer is NO. And here’s some info on whether you should give up on an agent if they’re being unresponsive here. For the most part, only if you’ve done everything possible to communicate how you’re feeling and given them time to respond. She makes the point that agents have tons of things to do for tons of clients and it can all take time. (Janet Reid again). There’s also a rather funny post on what to do when agents want to keep your book but are leaving the agency here. This seems a no-brainer. I wouldn’t carry on project managing a client if I left a business.

There’s an interesting post on rejection from agents and why not to take it personally from agent Susan Hawks at Bent on Books. Conclusion: it’s mostly about taste and the marketplace at that particular point in time. Don’t take it personally and move on.

And if you’re wondering about the view from the other side, about how your agent feels about you and how she wants you to behave, have a look at this. It’s quite funny (e.g. rule #2, don’t ever assume that the client the agent is dissing on twitter is you. It’s always another client!) and also a helpful reminder in professionalism, which can be easily forgotten when you just want to get your book out there (e.g. rule #7, don’t ever mistreat the support staff).


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