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 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.


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!


L.J. Sellers said...

For a more positive view of agents, check out Alex Sokoloff's blog:

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Thanks for linking, LJ - that's the WHY of it, from my point of view.

Here's another post I did on HOW to get an agent, with links to some of the best resources I've found so far.

Always happy to answer any specific questions you have, Emma.

Gayle Carline said...

I got my first contract without representation. Could an agent have gotten me a better deal, with a bigger house? Possibly. But my gut told me that this was where I needed to be. Will I always be without an agent? "Never say never," my grandmother used to say.

Helen Ginger said...

Great post Emma. Except I just spent close to an hour following your links, which led me to more links....


Mike Cane said...

>>>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?"

Oh puleeze. That's like telling people who now write for the biggest websites that they should have been considering dying print! (And book publishing *wishes* their books had the readership of some sites!)

My position will not change.

Morgan Mandel said...

If I meet an agent and like that person, I'll send a manuscript, otherwise I usually send to publishing houses.

I've heard the wrong agent is worse than none at all.

Morgan Mandel

Maryann Miller said...

Nice post, Emma. Like Helen, I went from link to link and almost forgot where I started. :-)

One of the neat things about these blogs is the fact that we can go from site to site and pick up more good info.

Anonymous said...

Emma, this is a really good post, full of links (as Helen noticed an hour later - lol) and packed with info. I have the permalink stored, will explore the links later, but wow - thanks for putting all this together!

Emma Larkins said...

Wow! I'm glad everyone liked the post. I can't claim all the credit, most of that goes to the authors of the posts I linked to :) (sorry Maryann and Helen!) This was an issue that I've heard some pretty strong opinions on, so I wanted to gather as much info as I could and try to balance it all. I guess I really won't know the nitty gritty until I submit myself!

Charlotte Phillips, Co-Author of The Eva Baum Detective Series said...

Great job Emma - thanks for all the research! I have stored all the permalinks in my anal spreadsheet under the Agent tab.

I think agents are people, and like all people, some are very good at what they do, some are not, and some are just scam artists. Those writers who find (or luck into) a good agent, who excels in their genre, and has the right contacts at the right time, love agents. The best ones don't just have contacts - the have contract savvy and negotiating skills.

My few experiences have not been stellar, but I've met some people dedicated to their craft who helped me identify and avoid the scams. For that, I thank them.