Wednesday, October 15, 2008

All About Agents

In honor of my very first agent interview on Community Fridays this week, today I'm going to dig a little into the mysterious world of agents.

I haven't yet had the pleasure (or pain, as some people see it) to submit my work to agents. I hope that gathering information this early in the game will help me to make the right decisions when I start looking for an agent, if I decide to go that route.

Jean Henry Mead is a published author of seven nonfiction books and three mystery novels. Her article on why agents turn writers down answers several difficult questions about the process authors go through to get an agent, such as: Should writers discuss marketing in their query letter? Where is the best place to meet an agent? How much should a writer know about their target market before contacting an agent?

If you read L.J. Seller's blog Write First, Clean Later, you'll com across some great agent information. In one article, she lists the pros and cons of finding a literary agent. For example, an agent can help you negotiate a better contract, but he or she might also quit the agency and leave you in the lurch.

Within her article, L.J. mentions another great agent article, What's the point of literary agents? by Mark Liam Piggott of guardian.co.uk. Mark has had both good and bad experiences with agents. Don't forget to read the comments for more great insight.

Tess Gerritsen over at Murderati is actually a happily agented author, more than satisfied working with her third agent. However, she knows other authors whose relationships aren't quite as rosy, and so she offers advice on whether or not to fire an agent based on certain criteria.

As one last point, I'd like to offer a tidbit from Rob, who I met at a recent literary event. Rob asked me if I'd started submitting to agents yet. I replied no, and that I'd heard mixed opinions on whether an agent was the right way to go. Rob then asked me whether all of the most successful authors had agents.

"I imagine so," I said.

"Then, if you want to be successful, shouldn't you have an agent?"

I'd love to hear your thoughts on agents. And don't forget, agent Andy Ross will be here on Friday to offer some great inside information from the industry.

Update!

Great comments from L.J. and Alexandra Sokoloff with links to more articles on Alexandra's site. She gives wonderful advice for getting a literary agent, and then lets you know why you want an agent in the first place! Thank you Alexandra for the excellent, to-the-poing advice!
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