Getting an agent to represent you saves you tremendous time and while they do take a percentage, hiring a specialist means you’re probably going to make more on your book than you would if you represented yourself. However, in order to find a top-notch agent there are a few things you want to know:
Agents are busy professionals. They don’t want to be emailed repeatedly, called repeatedly or stalked. You wouldn’t either, would you? Always, find out their preferred method of contact, usually snail mail or email, and query them based on their submission guidelines. You can find their guidelines on their agency website or in the latest edition of Writer’s Market.
Be patient. Imagine if you received thousand of letters each week. It’d take you some time to go through each letter, read the query, synopsis and first 50 pages, right? Give agents time to get to your submission. Most agents will tell you how long it takes them to get to submissions. If they say it takes them three months, contact them only after that three month deadline has passed and be polite and professional.
Know what they represent. I imagine there’s nothing more frustrating than devoting time to read a letter or submission and finding out it isn’t what you represent. You’re wasting their time and your money. You can find what types of books agents are looking for on their website – it’s important to check this before you submit because agencies change agents and they change what genre they’re representing.
Put your best foot forward. Spend time on your cover letter and synopsis. These are your very first impressions and they can make or break your chances for representation. If you don’t know how to write a query letter or synopsis, learn!
Be ready and willing to listen to feedback. Some agents are interested in representing if you make a few changes. This is part of the back and forth that sometimes occurs. If you respect the agency and their reputation in the industry then it’s important to listen to their request. However, there is a saying in the industry that says, “You don’t make changes for agents, you make them for editors.” So while an agent’s opinion may be valid, if you honestly don’t think the requested changes are prudent, then don’t change them. It’s possible they’re not the right agent for you.
Networking can be the key to a perfect agent. Make friends in the industry. Published friends can be great referrals to agents and don’t be afraid to approach them at workshops and conferences. That’s one of the real benefits of joining a writer’s organization like RWA; you can attend workshops and seminars and meet agents who may be interested in your work. It’s always easier to get your foot in the door if you’ve met before and left a favorable impression.
Getting a good agent isn’t a must but it sure makes your job easier! Knowing what agents want and how to find the right one takes you one step closer to achieving your romance writing dreams.