Sometimes the most mysterious, difficult part of writing a book is find representation for that wonderful book.
You have the pitch, a new suit, you are confident on how to present your book and yourself. But just who are these agents anyway? Can you really screw up in the cozy environment of an expensive conference or pitch session? Of course you can.
The bad news – and I share it with you right here – agents can make up their mind about you, and your book, in under 60 seconds. But they sit with you for the other five minutes just to be polite.
You have one minute.
What to do? Here are best – and worst practices for a successful agent date.
Best practices include activities like:
- Research, even as shallow as reading the conference brochure. Sign up to talk to an agent who is interested in your genre, topic or hobby.
- Talk to one of the authors the agent already represents. What does that author recommend?
- Sit at the agent’s table during a meal.
- While you chew, listen to them talk, what can you learn about the industry?
- Learn what they don’t want. I’ve talked with agents who really, really resent taking the time to list what they are looking for, to the point of having those books listed on the back of their business cards, which they generously distribute. And they STILL must listen to pitches for books not in their field.
Bad practices include activities like:
- Stalking. Resist the urge to follow an agent around during a three day conference, remember your high school crush? It looks like that.
- Pitching your book over lunch.
- Trapping them in the rest room
- Pushing your manuscript to them under the bathroom stall door (true story).
- Following them outside to share a smoke when you don’t smoke.
- If You Want to Play the Home Game
Start a conversation
If you are a fan of Twitter, do follow the agents you love! It’s cheaper than a conference and easier to start a relationship. When to follow? Now, even as you are creating your book. By setting up the relationship ahead of time, you’ll be poised to send off your book to the right agent, who, at the very least, will send you a more personal rejection.
Do your on-line research
From Agent Hunter: If you’ve written a thriller set in the Italian Alps, try searching on related keywords (Italy, thriller, mountaineering, mountains, Alps, etc) to see if you can locate a thriller addicted mountaineering agent.
Sending your precious book to the wrong agent can set you back weeks or even months. Don’t do it. Set yourself up for success!
On-line directories and sites are very, very helpful in honing in on the best agent to pitch to. Do include sites like Predators and Editors. Sites like Agent Hunter do help you keep track of what you’ve sent and to whom. For email pitches and queries, give it about six weeks before pinging the agent again.
The most frustrating part of finding an agent is how long it can take.
Overnight success is like that.
From the upcoming book – Don’t Write Like We Talk
What we learned after three years interviewing Authors, Agents and Publishers
Catharine Bramkamp & Damien Boath Producers of the Newbie Writers Podcast
Catharine Bramkamp is the author of Future Girls and Future Gold
Listen to the Newbie Writers Podcast, this is from Episode 9
For more information: www.YourBookStartsHere.com