Wednesday, May 28, 2008

How to stay on your agent's radar

O.K. I'm putting this one out the night before, but I had some time and figured this was as good a time as any to type.

Whether you are working for a large agency or a small agency, you want to make sure you are getting the best attention from your agent. I hear a lot of people tell me that "they never hear from their agent." Now, before you start defending the writer here (and before I start saying anything about the agents) you need to remember that there are two sides to this discussion. We have to see it from both angles.

Let's begin with the writer. Whenever I hear that comment, I often ask myself (but never ask them personally) "So what have you done about it?" I honestly believe that many of these writers sent in their manuscript and as the agent sends things out, they do nothing. They don't work on new projects, they don't discuss issues with their agent. They just wait.

On the agent side, we see this as a personal decision the writer has taken. We have sent out manuscripts for consideration, but until we hear from someone, then guess what, we aren't going to be picking up the phone and call "just to check in."

Now, I will say that there are some agents that just don't check in with their clients until something happens. Sometimes it is only through quarterly reports. In this case, the writer should have know that before they even started looking at that agent.

O.K. So with all of this said, what do you do to stay on the radar of the agent.

Keep writing and keep new projects coming their way. If we have a lot of projects to send out for you, then we will likely be talking more. This is also a great way to insure that your projects are more in line with what the editors are looking for. Even if you are a person that writes one story a year, the more contact you can have with the agent, the better the chance they can assist you in tailoring that story to the right target audience.

If you are an established writer, keep sending the agent the reviews you get. If you are doing a book signing, send them the information. Keep them on your mailing list. The more we stay in touch, the more we know what you are doing.

Don't harrass though. Remember that the agent is a busy person. This means that calling just because you are struggling with the hair color of a character is far from necessary. Contact them with concerns but don't be a pest.

The end result of staying on the radar will not only be better working relations with the agent, but also the chance that when unique projects come up, we will think of you first. I should stress this is even more important for those larger houses.


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