There comes a point in every author’s career that he or she decides it is time to retain the services of an agent. This is a much more involved process than one may realize. To be successful it is vital that you do your research. More importantly, you need to know yourself and your own style intimately before you every attempt to look in any of the many databases. This is always the first step in retaining any professional, especially one that you will work so closely with for so long.
The first step to finding the perfect agent is trying to figure out exactly what you want to get out of the relationship. You need to know what you want before you can be the most successful. Take a few minutes and write down you ultimate goal, then write down the smaller goals that you need to meet to achieve your dreams. This may sound a ridiculous but it will actually allow you to achieve your goals quicker than you ever thought possible.
Once you have decided what you want out of your career, it is time to consult one of the professional databases available. The two best are The Writer’s Market and the Literary Market, both of these databases prescreen every professional that is on their list. This reduces the risk of finding a disreputable organization. Choose several agencies then do extra research on each one of the agents individually. While you are doing this research, consider the source that you are using and the motive behind their opinion. This way you will have a better understanding of the information that you find. Never wait to do this step until you receive an offer, not having all you information before you send out you query shows an agent that you are lazy and unprofessional.
When submitting your proposal packet to agents, be sure to read the submission guidelines carefully. Some agencies will not give an author a second chance if they do not provide the information that they request. A few will give you a second chance, but you will still not be viewed in a good light. You want to show an agent that you are the best choice out of their stack of submissions; not doing your research does not help you reach that goal.
Research is not the only thing that will make you the most attractive submission. Agents look at more than your talent when they consider contracting an author. They also look at the person behind the pen. You have to show that you are willing to work as hard as your agent does to achieve mutual success. If you come across as having a bad attitude or that you are high maintenance the agent will politely reject your submission.
If you want to reach the highest markets in the literary industry, it is mandatory to have an agent. The key to finding that perfect agent is doing your homework and knowing exactly where you want to go. This along with allowing a willingness to work as a team and following directions will make you look like the idea author. If you show an agent that you are the author they have been dreaming about they will snatch you up as quickly as they can, so you won’t slip through their hands.
Jennifer Etherton Literary Services