Thursday, September 5, 2013

Finding the Right Agent, It's All About The Passion

My daughter's trainer for her horse riding made a fantastic comment on her Facebook site a couple of days ago that I wanted to share with the authors out there looking for an agent.

As much as we love to advertise how well everyone consistently does at competitions of all kinds, that is never what you should go off for choosing a trainer. 

Choose the trainer who has happy horses. The ones that love going to work and have no tack fitting problems. The ones that have proper bit knowledge and can teach you how to find the job your horse would do best in.

That's the real way to win. 

This really got me thinking as I looked at the pile of new submissions in my email at the present moment, and the copy of A GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS sitting on my desk.

When it comes to finding an agent you want to work with, it is not a matter of how much money that agent has made in their latest deal, or the flash and glitz of their website, or the wittiness of their Tweets. You have to find someone that is a true match to you and your writing needs. This is a marriage of the creative side of the business [you] and the business side [the agent]. There are no exceptions to this.

I do believe it is easy to get swayed by those statistics. I know I frequently get  frustrated when I hear agents constantly reminding authors of the 6 figure deals they just made, or the way that Author X has a book that is being picked up by some movie company. Now don't get me wrong. I love to hear success stories for authors. I want authors to land those 6 figure deals or those movie contracts. Still, for many new authors out there, they hear those figures and stats, the belief is created that an author will only be successful with agents who land those 6-figure deals. This is a myth.

I am sure many of you get tired of me reminding you of doing your research before you submit, but this is, once again, one of those times when it is truly necessary. There are a lot of great agents out there that will do great for you and your writing. Why? Because they have the passion for your writing. Just like Celeste's comment on horses, the way to win is finding that right match and not always the one who brags about all of the competition wins.

Just recently, I made an offer to an author to represent her work. I loved the story and there was a lot of potential for this project. In the end, she had another agent who wanted to represent the author so she passed on my author. Yes, there was a brief moment of disappointment on my part, but, the more I thought about it, this was a good thing. As the author put it in the email to me, she noted that the project seemed to fit better with the other agent and her needs as a writer. That is a good thing and that author will be successful!

Soon after I opened the agency and had made some great early sales, I had a gentleman contact me who kept a website up that posted deals of books, very much like Publisher's Marketplace. He was frustrated with me, and eventually angry with me that I wasn't sending him my updates on the sales. "Don't you know," he told me, "that writers will only come to you if they see you are selling a lot of books and making a lot of money?" Well, it is now 10 years later and I have to say the agency is doing really well. Somehow those authors out there found me despite my lack of desire to "brag" about my successes. Somehow, I have been invited to conferences without proclaiming all of those 6-figure deals.

Look there will always be those people out there that believe it is only about the money. I also know there are those out there who believe that those "unknown" agents or those "smaller" agencies, or those agents without big sales will never get an author to the top. I get it and I know this message will fall on deaf ears. But I do believe Celeste was very correct in her approach to horse training and take it to heart

Find that perfect match. You will win!

By the way, just as a side note, her success stories are huge including: National Grad Champion Western Pleasure Horse, Champion Baroque Western Horse, National Grand Champion Best Movement Stallion, National Reserve Champion Dressage, and 8 National Top 5 titles in other classes at the recent Canadian National Champion Andalusian Show.

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