Tag s | Agents

Why Isn’t My Agent Working for Me at Conferences?

Often I’m asked by writers to pitch a book at a conference I’m attending. Sometimes I’m asked to find out the status of a submission. Because of my writing background, I totally understand these impulses. When I was writing novels, I asked these questions of my agent. So believe me, I’ve experienced the frustration of being at home, wondering why my agent isn’t asking about and pitching my work at conference.

And as an agent, I can tell you why I rarely, if ever, ask for a status or pitch a book at conference.

I don’t ask for a status of a manuscript because the editor won’t have her logbook or spreadsheet with her – or at least, not convenient at the time. She’ll be seeing lots of other agents and authors. No one can expect any editor to answer status questions from memory. But as your agent, I can contact editors any time, when they ARE near their records, and receive an accurate answer.

Of course, if an editor volunteers information about a pending submission, I’m happy to listen, learn, and share any information with the author.

But no editor needs a spreadsheet to hear a pitch, right? Well, no. But pitching manuscripts is not the purpose of most editor and agent meetings at conferences. Rather, we are strengthening relationships. We talk business, but will listen to editors rather than throw them pitches, no matter how excited we are or how much we love the author.

Might we mention a manuscript or author? Yes, but to pique interest. Then we can follow up with a dynamite proposal. This proposal will be expected by the editor and will contain all the information the editor needs, not just the highlights we might cram in at a conference. Or we might not mention you or your manuscript, but make a note to present that particular editor with your fabulous proposal that will speak directly to the publishing needs and wants of that editor. This allows you to look your best at all times.

So while you’re at home, wondering why your agent isn’t working hard for you at a conference, relax and take this time to write or chill, or both. Your agent is working hard for you. Maybe just not the way you think.


Your turn:

What do you think agents should accomplish at a conference?

What is your favorite part of a conference?

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The Best Time to Submit to an Agent

Thanks to Katie Powner for her question on my May 25, 2016 blog, which sparked this blog. There have been many changes in publishing over the last few years. In fact, it seems we just get used to some element of publishing, and wham! It’s turned on its head. But …

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Why I Don’t Critique Your Work

A fantastic blog post from Ramona Richards reminded me why I, as a literary agent, don’t offer critiques on rejected proposals. Believe me, as someone who used to write books, I understand the disappointment of the unhelpful rejection letter. So much that I blogged about it (click to read it). …

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I Hate Rejecting Great Books!

If you, as an author, feel beaten down by several rejections, perhaps you have this image of an agent reading your submission: (Agent sits down at computer, armed with a steaming cup of Uber Expensive Coffee.) “It is now time to go through my submissions!” (Agent rolls up sleeves and …

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Sending Your Submission to an Agent

Submitting your work to an agent can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. A few simple steps will help you gain confidence, regardless of your method. Unsolicited submission This is when you are querying several agents and you have no connection other than seeing them on a list. …

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Tell Us All the Gossip!

Sometimes writers hear wild, wild gossip about the industry. Sometimes that gossip is true. Sometimes it is not. Sometimes it is halfway true. As your agent, I want to hear it! You might say, “Wait a minute! Aren’t you a Christian agent? Doesn’t the Bible say not to gossip?” Yes. …

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Asking for a Reference – or Not

Throughout my career I have occasionally heard that writers looking for an agent should ask an agent’s clients for references. My advice? Reconsider that advice. Why Not I don’t say this because I’m afraid of what my current clients will say to a potential client. I’m far from perfect, but I do …

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How Do You Know What Will (or Will Not) Sell?

There is a mysterious magic embedded in the mythos of the publishing industry…the ability to pick successful books. I was recently asked “You say ‘no’ so often, how do you know when to say ‘yes?’” I wish I could claim that every agent and publisher have a secret formula that we consult …

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