Selecting a literary agent: enjoying the power for the first and last time.

I don’t mind a good giggle. If I get a belly laugh, I consider it a great day. Explaining how agents and publishers work to my Dad gave me a good giggle. Not a belly laugh, though; I’m not that disrespectful to the industry. So, it was a good day, not a great one.

Although I’ve been having a hard time summarising for my blurb, I think I did okay at summarising the submission process within the literary industry. I guess I didn’t need a snappy first sentence to be judged on, he allowed me more than 20 words before his attention was lost and he decided to speak to me even though I haven’t been writing since my brain could form creative ideas. That’s a good quality in a Dad. He also used to pick me up late at night from the city when taxi’s wouldn’t. Another great quality in a Dad. Now if I could only get him to become a literary agent, build up a network of contacts and get a handle on the publishing industry, I would have the best agent ever: one that would drive me home after events and make sure I’m tucked up safe in bed. I think they exist.

So back to the good giggle. When he paraphrased back the writer, agent, publisher relationship, I was not only proud of his listening skills, I was excited that it sounded as crazy out loud as it did in my head. Just like my MS. But that’s okay because I’m aiming for crazy.

Be that as it may, crazy or cockameme, this is how it works and I will respect that. I respect loads of people that I giggle at, and with, and it’s okay as long as they know it and I can handle them giggling at my expense. I’m sure loads of people will be giggling at my attempts at submitting my work, but then again, I hear these people are too tired to laugh – or maybe that’s why they laugh: they are so overworked they’ve gone loopy. That’s the agent I want. Hardworking, loopy and can drive me around. I’m narrowing this down…

I’m at the part of my post-submission process where it’s time to select an agent. This is pretty exciting; it will be the first and last time I’ll be on this side of the selection process. After I send these off, the power will be lost forever. So I need to enjoy it. But how do I select an agent that’s right for me? What would ensure they are on my top ten list?

When sending queries, your opening line should mention why you chose them specifically and that you have done your research. It would be nice if you could just mention that they accept your genre, but you need to go beyond this, I believe. But stalking author acknowledgements for the agent they thank… Is that the best way to select them? Do they want another similar author on their books where they will need to pitch you both against each other in a particular market?

Publishers may only have one opening for a book of a certain genre. So if that agent has two of me on their books, wouldn’t me and my other me be fighting for that spot? So based on that, is my excel spreadsheet full of agents of my favourite authors only good for polishing up on my basic excel skills?

I have the books and websites where I can research agents, the questions you would ask if they want to represent you. But other than saying: you fit the brief because you are an agent with a license to…well no license actually. How do you set them apart? Who will be my taxi-driving, great-listening, loopy hard worker?




7 thoughts on “Selecting a literary agent: enjoying the power for the first and last time.

  1. Stalk them on twitter (or other social media they are on) so you see what they are like as a person, and check out what their clients say about how they are treated by their agent.

    • I have been pretty bad with twitter lately – a little disillusioned. But I will set up a list with notifcations, just for agents, and see what I can find. It might help to spend these 6 weeks of holidays coming up on research – since I’ll find it hard to much else 🙂

      • That sounds like a great idea, and twitter is so great for finding out what agents want NOW because it changes all the time and the agents I follow at least have been very sharing and open about what they are looking for.

  2. Ah yes! If only your father could represent you…

    Rochelle – That’s a good idea about using Twitter to see what the agents are like as people.

    • And after all those lovely mentions of him on this post, he thought I was saying that he didn’t listen lol. Not a good sign for my blurb then… Yep, I’m going to set up a list and keep an eye on them. Now to just get going on who to put on that list….. Thanks for stopping by, Your Shiftiness 🙂 ( I can say this in public, right? )

    • I’m on it 🙂 You’ve also reminded me that I have to decide on whether further afield means UK or US…I guess I just have to identify the agency, the agent that would represent my work and set up a list from there, starting from biggest to smallest. I don’t know why I’m so hell bent on starting with biggest ones. I’m sure it’s another lesson I’ll learn…

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