Monday, January 03, 2011

Are You Ready for an Agent?

Hi all! How was your holiday? I had a great vacation, and I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. :)

Last month, I shared Michelle Bayuk’s extensive marketing experience. Today, I want to share what agents Jennifer Matteson and Edward Necarsulmer IV had to say about the signs you’re ready for an agent.

This wasn’t exactly a structured talk. It was more a Q&A, and both agents shared their experiences and knowledge. And they both shared some great nuggets, which I’ll list out below.

Edward Necarsulmer IV:
-Unless you’ve got several sales under your belt that are doing well, don’t pitch an idea or concept with sample chapters in a query. Agents and editors need to see the completed manuscript for fiction.

-In a query, agents don’t want to see the phrase ‘newly completed’ when referring to the novel. Manuscripts need to be revised and made the best they can be, and saying it’s newly completed implies it’s just a first draft. Agents want to see draft ten, not draft one. :)

-Many picture book and educational authors are not agented. Agents mostly work with trade books.

-Most importantly, agents and authors work together as a team. Trust in each other, ask questions, and know that you are not alone.

Jennifer Matteson’s Signs That You Are Ready For An Agent:
-You have written more than one novel. For picture books, have at least three books you feel are publishable.

-You can discuss the strengths and weakness of your work without getting defensive.

-You have a critique group, as well as a revision history of your novel.

-You can name at least three published titles that you think are helpful comparisons (this helps agents get a feel for what kind of story you’ve written).

She also shared some additional advice:
-Having a critique group helps you move beyond your emotions—emotions often cloud judgment and keep us from making our work the best it can be.

-If you happen to land a book contract without an agent, look for a re-negotiation clause in the contract. This will allow you to re-negotiate certain terms in your contract if the industry standard changes.

I don't know about you, but I found all of this very inspiring. :)


Laura Pauling said...

Thanks for sharing. It is encouraging to see some of the signs in my own life. I still know it comes down to the writing, the idea and a bit of luck!

Darby Karchut said...

Very helpful and timely post. I've just "discovered" your blog, but really enjoying it.

Stina said...

According to this I'm ready. Hopefully so is my novel after all the revisions and feedback. :)

Mysti said...

I'm not sure I'm ready for an agent, but this is great advice to keep me on the right track. Patience and persistence is the key. :)

Tabitha said...

Laura - you're so right that there are more factors to consider, but if some of these things are in your life then the other factors probably are, too. :)

Darby - welcome! Glad you're enjoying things so far. :)

Stina - most of writing is about revision, so it sounds like you're on the right track. :) Good luck!

Mysti - it sure is. Without it, you won't get anywhere in this industry. :)

Logan E. Turner said...

Great post! I hope to be ready to take advantage of this advice by early next year. :)

C.R. Evers said...

Wow! What a helpful post. thanks for posting this!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing. It's always great to get insights from agents.

Michelle Flick said...

I thought this was super helpful, especially the point of picking out the three titles to give the agent an idea of what your book is like! Thanks for sharing!

Tabitha said...

Logan - I'm sure you will be! Hope to see you in class at the end of the month. Cross your fingers for me!

Christy - so glad you found it helpful! It was great hearing them talk.

Kelly - it sure is. I love it when agents and editors take the time to help others unravel the mysteries of publishing. :)

Mflick1 - I loved that part, too. :) Glad you found it helpful!

Andrea Mack said...

Great post! This helps me feel more confident about my decision to start querying agents.

J.L. Campbell said...

Good tips!

Akoss said...

Great advice! I'm going to link to this so I could come back and read as often as needed. Thank you so much for sharing.