Saturday, September 20, 2008

Quick and Relatively Painless

The truth is...I actually got an agent fairly quickly. The only problem was that my first agent and I didn't really mesh, and I unfortunately had to move on within a year of signing with her. Authors of children's lit don't typically go the agent route the first time around. Children's book publishers, unlike their adult counterparts, are more open to direct contact by writers and are willing to look at newbies. This was a great starting point for me. Once I had my book placed with a publisher, getting an agent was relatively easy. I originally submitted to five agents and three responded favorably. After careful consideration I picked the one I thought would be the best and signed with her. At the beginning she was great. She was attentive and prompt in all of our conversations and seemed fantastic, but over time she got harder to contact and wouldn't respond to my inquiries. It would take her many, many months to read new works. She just seemed to lack the polish that I was looking for. The hardest thing for me in deciding to drop her as an agent, was that I liked her, but in the end it came down to my career and where I wanted it to go and I was simply not satisfied.

After I notified her of my decision (she took it quite well,) I decided to look a little closer to home for my next agent. Though I loved the idea of having a New York agent (which my first agent was,) I decided that it might be better to get a Canadian agent that knows where I'm coming from and knows what I'm talking about when I mention things like "touque" and "a double double." So I contacted a very reputable agency and immediately got signed with the wonderful and very patient Lise Henderson. She is a great agent and does her best to meet the needs of all her writers. Aside from the business end of things, she is just plain nice...and that never hurts! So if you are looking for an agent here are few of my own personal tips in getting the right one.

1. Make sure you submit to the agent that is representing you kind of writing.

2. Do not send out blanket submissions. Personalize your cover letter and introduction and know something about the agency you are sending to.

3. When you make contact with an agent, tell them EXACTLY what you are looking for as a writer. Do you like them to keep their distance and only contact you when you contact them? Do you need to be prodded along? Do you need them to set deadlines for you? Let them know what you are looking for...afterall they are working for you.

4. DO NOT agree to pay for READING FEES. No reputable agency will ever charge you to read your manuscript.

5. If things don't work out with your agent don't feel obligated to stay. It's important that you find someone you are comfortable with and someone you can trust. Do though, make sure and read the fine print on your contract to find out what steps you need to go through before you can break the contract.

6. Look at the agent's client list and recent sales. Though you wouldn't think it, it can actually tell you a lot about them.

7. Remember that an agent with many, many clients will not always be able to give you the personal attention you would like. If you want someone who is going to know that your cat's name if Fluffy, then consider going with an agent with a short list of clients.


Tracy Madison said...

Wonderful story and great tips for searching for an agent! :)

Lesley Livingston said...

So glad it worked out for you, Carolyn! - and good on ya' for having the guts to break with the first agent when you realized it wasn't working.

Jillian Cantor said...

I like your tips!

I wish I knew what a "touque" and "a double double" are!!

Carolyn McTighe said...

Thanks girls. Okay, so a touque is a knit hat you wear in the winter and a double double is a popular way to order Canada's most famous coffee from our beloved Tim Hortons. Take care.