Literary Agents: someone who represents writers and their works to publishing houses….and film agents/producers, and audiobook companies, and foreign rights publishers, and often edit, and and and
If you’re debating the need for an agent I suggest Rory Gilmore-ing the crap out of it. Pro Con list time! That’s what I did, no surprise, and I landed firmly on traditional publishing which meant: I needed an agent.
But, how do you select which agents you’d want to work with? How do you know if the ones you pick would be a benefit to your career?
Truth: You Don’t.
Situations arise that alter plans. You, nor your agent, can control the opinions of publishers. You, nor your agent, can control the market. There are so many variables that shift around you, choosing a book agent is really a leap of faith—but don’t despair! There’re also some grounded aspects at your fingertips.
Some agent aspects that shouldn’t change with the winds of publishing are: what genres they represent, what have they sold recently, what do some of their current authors think of working with said agent, what’s their reputation—if you can gather that. It’s leg work that absolutely should be done before you pursue them. But, being prepared for the call is also a huge part.
The call is basically you interviewing the agent. So, that means you’d better be prepared with a list of questions for them. And yes, there’s plenty of lists of Questions to ask an Agent before Signing out there, but I believe you should also be asking yourself questions alongside them…and be open with your agent about your thoughts.
Questions for the agent in Red.
Questions for yourself in Blue.
What did you like about my book?
What do I like about my book?
What work do you see that needs to be done before going out on submission?
Are you an editorial agent?
Do I want to work with an agent on editing my book?
Do you sign authors for one book, or for their career?
Does your agency use a contract?
Are there others at your agency that I would be working with?
What does your submission process look like?
What happens if this book doesn’t sell?
What would I want to do with this book if it doesn’t sell?
What project do I really want to work on next?
Would you support me writing in a different genre?
How many authors do you represent and what genres do they write?
How do you usually communicate with your authors?
Do I want to brainstorm with an agent, or would I prefer to come to them with ready-formed ideas?
As always, there’s no wrong answers to these. But they’re important to ask and think about because once you’re in an agent-author relationship, and working with an agent is a business relationship, you’ll come across all of these situations and more.
I’ve been through this process and would love to answer questions if you have any! Drop them here, or you can find me on Insta and ask there! Otherwise, may the words be with you!