Monday, January 31, 2011

The Case of the Perfect Literary Agent - Part 2

So lovely to join The Writers Alley again this week. And such fun to be had.

This is Rosemary S. Allspice reporting on Finding the Perfect Agent, part 2. To read part one, follow this link
I must say it’s been an exciting past two weeks, as I traveled about the United States in search of quality information regarding Literary Agents. You cannot imagine the gaiety involved.

I’ve brewed up another spot of tea, this time Irish blend, in celebration of author Jamie Carie’s work-in-progress. Here’s a hint: It’s about a Duke, and Irishwoman, and 1818.

Jamie was nice enough to allow me to stop in at her home in Indianapolis and winkle agent information out of her in between her Irish research. Here’s what she had to say:

“My experience was that I didn’t have any luck finding one until after I had a deal on the table. Then I queried several and, after emailing back and forth and getting to know each other, ended up with Wes Yoder of Ambassador Literary Agency. He’s been a great fit for me and that’s really the best advice I have. Find a good fit.”

Tis a recurring theme, don’t you think. “Find a good fit”. But, as my research has uncovered, a good fit may not happen the very first time around. Knowing what one wants and learning more about the particular agents in whom one is interested, is the first way to uncover a good fit.

Calm and kind Siri Mitchell took the time to answer my questions, even though she was celebrating the release of her newest novel, A Heart Most Worthy. Ever the lady, she offered me a spot of Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate, which I couldn’t deny. It was heavenly.

Here are her nuggets of wisdom about literary agents:
I feel like agenting is about building and maintaining relationships. Therefore, you need to sign with an agent who already sells to the house you want to work with. To do this, you really need to do your homework.

Look at an agent's client list to not only see if they have clients whose work is similar to yours but also to which houses they frequently sell. It pays to ask around about an agent's reputation (yes, even in the CBA!). I've asked my editors who they feel are good agents in terms of forwarding proposals that fit their interests and in advocating on their clients' behalf.

You should also find an agent who is willing to talk about and actively participate in career development. Don't waste those one-on-one conference appointments with agents and editors! Even if they're not interested in your manuscript, ask them who they consider to be the best agents in the business

Does anyone else catch the faintest hint of a theme in these comments? ‘relationships’ ‘conferences’, ‘fit’.

I traveled to Kansas to interview the delightful author, Deb Raney. With the warmth of a mum, she welcomed me into conversation and immediately put me at ease. Here is the cover for her June release, Forever After. Her advice continues with the same advice as before.

Her words of wisdom?

1. Keep in mind that a good agent for your best writer buddy may not be the best one for you. Personalities come into play, and different writers want different things from an agent.

2. Decide what you need from an agent and choose accordingly. Some agents excel at career planning, some are great first readers/editors, others are ace encouragers and hand-holders, still others are best at organizational skills or negotiating. Decide where your strengths and weaknesses are and find an agent who fills in where you are lacking.

3. Don't rush into the first offer that comes along. Once you have an offer for representation, talk to some of that agent's clients to learn about their style of agenting.

Oh dear, I’m prattling on again – especially when there is so much work to be done. Let me end with author, Patti Lacy, who is thrilled with the release of her newest novel, Rhythm of Secrets. Her advice is succinct and thoughtful, from her wealth of experience.

1. One who loves your writing.

2. One whom YOU love.

3. One who can get phone calls returned pronto. In other words, A Presence.

Well ducks, I’m quite finished for now. Perhaps, the lovely Alley Cats will invite me back again when I have some more juicy tidbits of information to share. Should you all be curious about another topic, feel free pass the question along.

For now, sit back, read the wisdom from some lovely authors, and enjoy the tea and Victorian Sponge Cake.



Julia M. Reffner said...

Thank you Miss Allspice for the much needed Monday morning caffeine and sharing the tidbits you've uncovered in your travels.

It seems my job for now is research, research, research and attempt to build relationships. Great advice from some wonderful authors.

Sarah Forgrave said...

Another sage post, Miss Allspice. I especially love Ms. Raney's advice in #2 about finding someone who counterbalances your strengths and weaknesses. Never thought about that before.


Casey said...

Very helpful Miss Allspice. I found the information intruiging and inspiring as I am tentatively "glancing about" at the agent community. :)

BTW, LOVE the cover of Deb's new book, can't wait to read it. ;)

Lovely tea, dear.

Mary Vee Writer said...

I feel like I need more directions...a direction of dummies booklet. Our friends above instructed us to research the agents "client list", and other such info...where do I look for this info?

Casey said...

Mary, you can find it on their websites. Always pretty interesting, imo. :)

Pepper said...

Julia luv,

Research is the hallmark of any good author, from what I've learned. But all the more when you are entering into a professional partnership. As dastardly as the word 'research' may appear to some, it is required nonetheless. so we all must heave a collective sigh in resignation, I suppose.

Pepper said...

Oh Sarah,
Wasn't Ms. Raney simply delightful. And, let me tell you, she is lovely to meet in person. Kind, gentle, with a smile for everyone.
Wisdom to glean, my dear Sarah.

Pepper said...

Sending out educated 'glances' is a brilliant way to start the hunt, my dear. As authors we are to be observant, with ears and eyes wide open. Innately curious ;-)
It is quite pleasant to know the options are available for the perusing.

Pepper said...

Mary darling,
My first post gave a remarkable link to a quite comprehensive agent list. It took a bit of investigating but the information was superb. Here is the address, luv.
Perhaps, it will provide more clarity.

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Another week of great advice! When I first started agent hunting, I never really thought about who would be the best fit for me--I didn't even know exactly what I wanted or what would work best. Now I realize how important that is and I'm glad new writers can read posts like this and get such good information. Thanks!

apple blossom said...

Wonderful information in this post. thanks

Keli Gwyn said...

Great job, Miss Allspice. Your efforts yielded helpful information. I agree that fit is a prime consideration. Having an agent who gets you and one you can trust is important.

Angie Dicken said...

Brilliant work, Miss Allspice! I am in the midst of reading The Duchess and The Dragon by Jamie Carie, and absolutely love it!
It's so true for most things in life-- that we must find a good fit, meshing personalities, and a "presence" this advice, and hope I will someday have the chance to apply it! ;)
Thanks for your post!