Saturday, November 21, 2009

How I Know I'm With The Right Agent

This post may be longer than most ... and maybe a little rambling, but I wanted to talk about the difference between having an agent and having the right agent for you.

there is a difference.

When I decided to query agents, I had a few friends say you've got to query agent x - he runs such a cool blog! or why don't you query agent z, she's a friend of a friend.

Instinctively, I knew it would be better to proceed a little more objectively.

I have had three different writing friends who have decided to part ways with their agents due to various reasons, but the heart of the problem was always related to the fact that the agent really didn't get the writer's style/voice/work as much as was required.

I wanted to avoid that situation if possible. So, I researched agents based on their client list and how their current work/style fit with my work/style. I then googled their names, read every word on their websites, read past interviews, read their clients blogs and even read some of their client's novels.

When I had a list of agents I thought would be a good fit, I began the query process.

In the end, Steven Chudney extended an offer of representation and I was thrilled to accept.

But recently, I had an experience that let me know how perfect he really is for me

what was that experience? I'll tell you...

My novel With A Name Like Love is under submission. It is a long process, but I am being patient and writing away at my next novel in the interim. I got to the point where I decided to let Steven know what I was working on.

I wrote him an e mail and told him it was a Middle Grade novel that involved this and that and stuff but promised lots of action and adventure.

Truthfully, I was hoping to be able to write a more plot driven novel this time. I have a tendency to write character driven pieces. So, I thought I would try to deliver a plot driven novel but I was inwardly worrying about actually delivering one.

Could I do it? Would it work? Or, would it be a horrible flop?

Steven's response?

Something along the lines of .... 'this and that sounds interesting, but just make sure the gist of the story is about the characters and the family.'

Perfect.

I can do that.

Questions: What do you think about this experience? Would you accept representation from any agent that offered (if you are seeking same)? What is your querying plan of action? If you are agented, how did you know the fit was right for you?
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27 comments:

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

I'd have to know the agent loved my story. I have a whole list of question to ask if and when I ever get offered rep, but it all boils down to if I feel like they are a right fit. I'm glad you found yours.

Paul Greci said...

Those are great questions.

My first YA novel is on submission now, too, as of last week. How did I know that my agent was the right agent for me? I did the same kind of research that you did, and when we spoke for the first time, she talked like a writer. It was all about the writing, the story, the voice. I felt it. At the same time I knew she had a great reputation from what I had read and from what other writers and agents had told me. I feel very fortunate to have found someone that I feel so good about working with!

I'm glad you feel the same way about your agent.

PJ Hoover said...

I felt like my agent got my writing and voice and had the same vision as me. It seemed like the total right match.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I like the way you approached it, Tess. It seems like an important relationship that needs a meeting of minds in order to flourish.

Angie said...

Sounds like a good approach. I think it's time to come up with a plan of my own.

L.T. Elliot said...

I want an agent that's a close fit for me. The relationship is more important than just HAVING an agent. I'm working my tail off on this and putting my soul into it. I want someone who sees that soul and knows what's best for it--because they understand it too. That's what I want and I won't settle.

Sarah said...

I think you handled it perfectly, Tess. I hope, when the time comes, to do the same. I've heard enough stories recently about what happens when an author didn't really get to know the agent before accepting their representation.

So good to have another post, by the way!

Amy De Trempe said...

Congrats on finding an agent who sounds perfect for you. I had an agent once. Did not work well at all.

B.J. Anderson said...

Wow, great post! And I think it's sooo important to do serious research on an agent before submitting. I'm definitely linking to your post today. ;D

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I want my agent to absolutely love my story. My dream agent would be Emily van Beek over at Pippin Properties.

You gotta have a goal, right? ;-)

www.shannonkodonnell.blogspot.com

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

i'm glad you have confirmation about your decision to go with him! that's always reassuring. :)

jeannie
Win a copy of Erica Vetsch's debut novel, The Bartered Bride at Where Romance Meets Therapy

Patti said...

Great advice, especially since I'm about to enter the search.

Amy Allgeyer Cook said...

It is so important to have your agent get your work. All your work. There are wonderful agents out there, who are wonderful people, but if they don't believe in your work, you'll start not believing in it too. And that's a heartbreaking place to be.

Kathryn Magendie said...

You were smart in how you handled it!

And, I just LOVE it that your agent told you that - I write character-driven novels/stories, and often wish I could write from "plots" but, you have to be who are you and write who you are... *smiling*

good luck with your books!

Jennifer Shirk said...

It's so nice to hear about a good agent author relationship. :)
I'm not shopping for one at the moment, but I do tend to make a mental list of agents whose books they represented I loved. I think it's a good way to know taste and if they like quirky or not. (which is ME) LOL

Jill Kemerer said...

Sounds like a perfect fit!

I'm interested in an agent who is uniquely qualified to sell the type of book I write. Someone agressive, but not off-putting, and someone who is extremely knowledgable. I've got a short list of eligible candidates!

Davin Malasarn said...

Thanks for sharing this, Tess. I feel like my mind isn't made up these days. I started querying a few months ago, but then I sort of lost interest in it. Right now, I want to make sure I want an agent at all, or if I'd rather self-publish and not worry so much about the business aspects of writing. There's so much information on the internet right now, and I feel overwhelmed. I want to make sure my writing stays in the realm of being fun for me, and part of me thinks that the best thing to do is to unplug from the system. I'm stilling thinking about it though!

Jackee said...

I can imagine that's so reassuring to see he's got your back (or maybe your same brain?) and looks at a story the same way you do. I love Nicholas Spark's story about finding an agent (http://www.nicholassparks.com/ForWriters.asp?PageID=3) because I think it illustrates some of what you are saying.

Thanks for visiting my blog, too. You made my day and helped me come out of my shell. Now I'll have to comment more and quit lurking on YOUR blog! LOL.

Crystal said...

Hi Tess!

Just LOVE this post today! My plan for acquiring an agent is similar to yours. You are so right; you can't just have any old agent, you need the RIGHT agent. I think an agent MUST have both a PASSION and a PLAN for your story in order to represent it well to publishers. That's why researching agents is SO important. And, I'll tell you, when I'm not working on my MG novel, I'm researching agents. I'm either doing one or the other. Like Karen above said, I've got a whole list of questions to ask . . . the right fit is just so important. :)

Tabitha Bird said...

i have heard a lot of stories about people with the wrong agents who later really regretted not doing some more research. I will be researching. I want someone who gets my voice and my goals. I want someone who responds like your agent did.

Tess said...

I am so thankful for your comments and this discussion - thanks for coming over and taking the time!

It is important that we remember we are an important part of the agent/writer relationship and we have the right to be picky, research and find that perfect fit. I say this, but it is clear that you all knew it already :)

Robyn Campbell said...

Thanks for filling me in on this. Tess, I am now looking for an agent. It has been a long time gettin' to this point. But I am doing it the way I want to. That way, I'll know the agent is right for me. I don't want to make any wrong decisions after getting this far.

Thanks Tess. And it won't be long for you, my friend. :)

Susan Fields said...

I'm so glad you found such a great fit, Tess! I hope I can find my great fit someday, and you're a wonderful example to follow.

Tamika: said...

This is exactly the example that we need to hear about. I want an Agent that values me and my work.

Sounds like you've found it Tess! Praise Jesus!

Sharon Mayhew said...

Ooops...I lost my comment. I'm glad you have a great fit with your agent. I hope to find one that really gets me and my quirkly sense of humor.

dellgirl said...

Congratulations on finding an agent. Sounds like this is going to be good for you. I like how you approached it also.

Are you ready for Thanksgiving? It's almost here and, I can hardly wait. I hope you have a spectacular Thanksgiving!

Kristin said...

Just to have someone who BELIEVES in me and my writing. That is a gift. That is what I want. It sounds like you got that in an agent. ;)