Monday, August 20, 2012

CHOOSING AN AGENT

When soliciting the services of a literary agent, authors are urged to write an exquisitely-wrought query letter that follows strict guidelines and also includes a taste of our writing style, including an irresistibly intriguing sentence that will “hook” agents and make them instantly yearn to read our book.

In other words, it’s our job to interest the agent in 300 words or fewer. This is an understandable request and an enjoyable challenge but I’d like to respectfully suggest that agents do the same for us. Pique our interest in a similar way. I too would like a taste of the agenting style and personality of the person who’s going to represent me in the publishing world. A well-crafted sentence, preferably written by you the agent, that will hook me, show me what kind of person I’d be working with and make me want to write many books for you to represent. Example: “I’m a soft-hearted hand-holder and will nurse you and your book along. I like kittens and ice cream.” Or “I’m a hands-off agent but a ferocious contract negotiator. My hobbies are target shooting, fencing and chess.”

There’s precious little personal information on most agent’s websites. Words like: “Handles, seeks, represents” are what usually follow an agent’s CV and list of
represented authors. Not much to go on when making a choice. You may have a fabulous reputation but how are we to know about it? Occasionally an online interview gives some insight but it’s a rare agent who’s generous enough to write about what they’re like and what they like. I’m so grateful when I come across these agents and always so sorry when they don't represent my type of fiction.

Agents need writers as much as writers need them in this age of self-publication and e-books. Without us, you’d have nothing to represent, nothing to get a percentage of. Without you, who’d know about our scintillating work, let alone publish it? It also seems you have so many queries you don't have time to respond unless you're interested; providing more information on what you're looking for would cut down on misdirected queries. So, agents, please give us something more than a photo and a CV to base our choice on. After all we give you a whole book to judge us by. The least you could do is give us a well-crafted paragraph.    
                                           :-)

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