Saturday, March 2, 2013

How Not to Get an Agent!!!

There's always plenty of advice on how to get an agent, but have you 
ever thought about how NOT to get one?

1) Don't follow the agent into the restroom with your "elevator pitch" flowing from your mouth
(You are both in there for another reason, not the time for him/her to hear about your book)

2) If you're at an agent table at a conference, let him/her have at lease one bit of food occasionally
(I'll never forget when I sat at my agent's table for the first time; each bit he took, someone ask a question, which is what agent's want, but I don't think the poor guy got one complete bite all meal

3) If you are turned down and the agent is kind enough to give a reason, don't spend the next two days
firing emails at him/her telling them why you did it that way; you aren't going to change his mind
(Instead, ask how you might improve that to make it ready for submission)

4) DON'T BURN BRIDGES! Do not write an agent OR editor back and tell them how stupid they are, don't know what they're doing, why they should find another job
(You never know when that person might cross your path again in a professional capacity and you want the door to be wide open, not closed)

5) Don't send a submission for erotica to an inspirational agent; same goes for sci-fi, romance, historic, etc. 
(Really? Did you even read the guidelines? Be sure that agent handles your type of novel)
Know what they handle BEFORE you submit

6) DON"T blanket the industry with your queries
( Send a couple, wait and see what type of response you get. The individual might have caught something with a suggestion that will help your next query)

7) Don't continue to resubmit to an agent unless you've done some serious rewrites 
(Then let her know you are resubmitting)

AND YES, ALL OF THESE HAPPEN ALL THE TIME, well, maybe not the first, though I have a friend who it happened to. Be considerate, be open to suggestions, make yourself unforgettable--known, 
BUT IN A GOOD WAY!!!
What have your experiences with agents been like? GOOD AND BAD???

11 comments:

  1. I remember my first, and only, RWA conference. Everyone kept talking about elevator pitches. I was alone in an elevator with a well-known editor and I just could not bring myself to pitch. I did not think the time was appropriate.

    I did have lunch with Terry Burns a few years ago, along with several other writers. I enjoyed his conversation. And I don't think any of us pitched to him at that time.

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  2. The elevator was perfect! Next time, go for it! I remember a lady telling me a couple years ago that she'd been practicing and "well, we're in an elevator, is it ok?" I was delighted!

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  3. Wow, Linda! These are also "How Not to Impress an Editor". Number 7 happens to us quite frequently. Authors: Know that we agents and editors do keep records, copies of submissions, etc. We can tell if a resub has actually been reworked. Submitting the same manuscript with only twelve words changed, won't convince us to take on a project we've rejected (unless we rejected it for those twelve words only).

    However, resubmit a beautifully reworked manuscript and you just might find yourself with a contract. We love it when that happens!

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  4. Nicola, you're so right and the embarrassing part about all of these suggestions, is that at some point, I probably did all of these. I'll pretend I didn't, but hey, that's how I got such a great list for folks to go by.

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  5. When I heard from a "targeted" agent with suggestions for improving a manuscript I had sent, I had to take a deep breath, step back, and refocus my perspective to see that she was absolutely right. It took a few days, but I reworked the story, applied her critique, and then asked her if she would accept a re-submission. She said yes, she'd add it to the pile. I could have been completely discouraged by the "pile" reference, but instead I put on my big-girl hat and sent in the ms. She loved it! And said so! And now she's my agent and I have learned so much.

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  6. Hmmmm, that has such a familiar ring to it.
    :):):)

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  7. Agents terrify me. I view them as gods because they have so much control of what happens in the industry.

    I have spoken briefly with Terry Burns at a writers' conference years ago, but I've had little contact with agents because I'm not at that stage yet in my writing career.

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  8. Loved your list, Linda! I gave up my spot right beside an editor (so someone else could have a chance to talk w/her) one time after learning my novel wasn't what she was looking for at the time. I could tell how much she liked my willingness to share. Simple manners do make an impression, and what does it hurt?

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  9. Carolyn, trust me, a real agent who cares about people and their futures, will NEVER make you feel that way, cuz it ain't so, Joe. They're just the same as you and me. No more, no less!
    And Caroline, what a wonderful thing to do. But you can always use your time to get to know an editor, learn more about the industry, etc. But what a lovely thing to do.

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  10. Also, don't forget to sell yourselves. I'm not saying go on and on about how wonderful you are, but sell your ability. If you were selling Mary Kay cos. you wouldn't spend your 15 mins talking about how wonderful Avon was, you'd explain why your product is new and fresh and will be wise for them to try! Now is not the time to be shy about who you are! (without being obnoxious, of course)

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