A Year To Publication: Finding An Agent. Why I Have an Agent by Jennifer Snow
Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Jennifer Snow as she shares with us “A Year To Publication: Finding An Agent. Why I Have an Agent.” Enjoy!
In today’s publishing market, deciding whether or not you need or want an agent can be a challenging decision to make. With self-publishing keeping all of the control in the author’s hands and smaller digital-only presses accepting submissions directly from the author, it can sometimes seem like an unnecessary step. Depending on your career goals, it may be. However, if you choose to follow the traditional publishing route, a good agent can be your biggest ally.
I have an agent and for me, it was the right decision, so today’s post is about how I found my agent and how our working relationship stays strong.
When I started publishing, I started with novellas through a smaller digital press, but I learned very quickly that contracts may as well be written in a foreign language for me for how much I understood them and at the time I was so excited to be offered a contract that I would have signed anything. Then I got my covers and was disappointed, but again, I had no idea that I was allowed to ask for changes.
Therefore, after my first experience with publishers, I decided maybe it was time to focus on writing and let someone else who understands the industry better take care of the rest.
There are many places to find an agent-online sites such as Query Tracker, the latest print copy of the Writer’s Market, face to face at conferences or even referrals from author friends. I decided to go into the romance section in the book store, find authors with careers that I aspired to have someday and see who represented them.
I then queried my agent with three different submissions before she offered me representation, but I was determined to work with someone I knew I would trust handing me career over to, and she was it.
Like editors, agents are very busy. They get hundreds of submissions a week, so how does a new author get noticed? By researching them and their agency and following the submission guidelines.
First, it is important to make sure that the agent you are querying represents your genre fiction or non-fiction project. And by looking at the titles they’ve represented, it makes it easier to identify if they seem to prefer a certain sub-genre within your category. An agent might represent Romance, but they may prefer contemporary to historical or paranormal to sports romances.
It is also important to make sure that they are open to queries at that time, as some agents only accept new queries certain months of the year.
Second, it is important to follow their guidelines. Send only what they ask for. If they want a query letter only, send that. If they want 50 pages, send that.
Third, allow them time to respond before following up. Most agents and agencies have a standard ‘your query has been received’ autoresponder. But then it could take up to 12-18 weeks for a personal reply. Wait that length of time before doing a follow up unless their website or auto-response email says otherwise.
-Google the agents you are querying. Often, they have given interviews or written blog posts or articles about agenting and you can learn a lot. For example, I learned that my agent didn’t like queries that started with a ‘What if’ scenario. Ex. What if you woke one morning and didn’t know who you were? Therefore, knowing this, I avoided this kind of intro to my query lolJ
They will also give their wish lists and what they see too much of. They also indicate how long of a wait time they have.
-When you get a reply-good or bad-be courteous! Say Thank you for your time! Then move on with your querying. Stay professional and polite no matter what their response is (some agents can be blunt or even rude) but do not respond in kind. Agents talk and you do not want to blacklist yourself. Be someone they would be happy to work with.
-When you do get offered representation-make sure it is the right fit. You and the agent should be on the same page regarding your career goals. Finding someone you trust and who communicates well is key.
Good luck Agent Hunting!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jennifer Snow lives in Edmonton, Alberta with her husband and four year old son. She is a member of the Writers Guild of Alberta, the Romance Writers of America, the Canadian Author Association, and SheWrites.org. She is also a regular blogger on the Heartwarming Authors site and is a contributing author to Mslexia Magazine, WestWord Magazine and RWR. She has also taught RWA Chapters courses online. Her 2013 Holiday Romance, The Trouble With Mistletoe, was a finalist in the 2014 Golden Quill Contest and the Heart of Denver Aspen Gold Contest.
Her publishing credits include two holiday novellas, previously published by The Wild Rose Press, now re-released or being re-released as self-published editions through Amazon. The Mistletoe Fever was an Amazon bestseller for two weeks in the category of Kindle Short Reads. Her six book small town, Brookhollow series is published through Harlequin Heartwarming, and she has a new MMA sports romance series releasing through Berkley/NAL Intermix in 2015. RT Reviews has given each of her Brookhollow series books 4 stars.
She also hosts an annual SnowGlobe Award contest in recognition of holiday themed romance stories, with over forty entries each year, with participants ranging from new authors to NYT Bestselling authors, such as Brenda Novak and Sarah Morgan. More information about the contest can be found at www.snowglobeawardcontest.vpweb.ca.
She is active on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and various blog sites and has a monthly author newsletter.
More information can be found at www.jennifersnowauthor.com.