Dealing With Agents

August 31st, 2004 · 5 Comments
by Booksquare

It is said that to get published, you must have an agent. And to get an agent, you must be published. We’ve taken classes where instructors have implied that the only path to publication is through an agent — yet this always seems to be news to the editors we encounter. Yes, like everything else in this business, the rules are completely made up by people who take their individual situations and extrapolate them to the entire universe.

And, yes, we do it all the time. That’s merely because we’re always right — it’s only appropriate that we share our wisdom. But we’ve been, once again, summoned to pay tribute to the meeting gods (apparently our offerings from last week weren’t enough), and we have a guest blogger who is more than qualified to speak on the topic. How fortunate is that?

We noted a question or two about agents on other threads, but what the heck…here’s what we want to know (after the stock signing, of course):

We know you love your agent (oh, yes we do), but describe your working relationship with her. Does she do a lot of editing or is she more hands-off? Why did you choose a smaller agency (in terms of staff, not sales)? What surprised you about working with an agent — did you have expectations that were unrealistic? Did you discover she does things you never anticipated?
We have heard through the grapevine (i.e., directly from your agent) that she helps her authors develop a career plan. What does that mean, how is it done, and did you discover anything about your goals that surprised you? Where do you and your agent see your career in five years?

File Under: Wrapped Up In Books

5 responses so far ↓

  • Gena Showalter // Aug 31, 2004 at 8:32 am

    Too. . . many. . . questions. . . can’t. . . breathe. . . Just teasing. Ah, my agent. For those of you who don’t know, I’m with Deidre Knight of the Knight Agency. And yes, I adore the woman and the agency! When I began my agent hunt three years ago, I knew I wanted this woman to represent me. I wasn’t thinking of small vs. large agency (I’ll talk more about that in a moment.) She was (and is) Karen Marie Moning’s agent and I loved what was happening with Karen’s career — and I wanted in on that action. I know Karen’s fabulous writing is what ultimately sold her books, but an agent plays a big part in that — getting the book in front of the right editor at the right time. Thankfully, Deidre connected with my work and signed me. She does offer editorial feedback, and I have to tell you the woman has never been wrong in my case. Every suggestion she’s ever given me (I’d give you an example, but that would give away key scenes in The Stone Prince) has made my books stronger and better. (The Stone Prince is not the book she signed me on, by the way. That book wasn’t even percolating in my mind at the time. She actually signed me on my second HQN (coming out Feb. 2005) The Pleasure Slave.) Anyway, I love and need feedback, so this is how it worked for The Stone Prince: I sent her an idea, and it was pretty vague: an alien man is turned to a statue, what do you think? Deidre and I then brainstormed together. She helped me plot the book. Same thing with Mia Snow, Alien Huntress. Hey Deidre, what do you think of a woman who stalks and kills aliens?)

    As for small vs. large agency, I can only speak for small. I email Deidre a lot — mainly because I’m an email addict and prefer that type of communication. She always gets back to me quickly, most times even within minutes/hours. I can call her and talk directly with her. She takes the time to plot with me, come up with titles, or anything I need. I love that.

    Career planning. . . When Deidre first signed me, we sat down and talked about where I wanted my career to go, and what I’d have to do to get what I wanted. Unfortunately, I have a habit of veering off track. Example: “Deidre, I think I should write a guide to understanding the phone book.” She helps get me back on track by reminding me of my goals and the things I still need to do to make them a reality. Another facet of that is that she’s able to tell me when it’s a good time to focus on writing a novella, where I should place promotional ads, what type of promo I need to do, that sort of thing. This type of information is invaluable for a new writer who knows nothing.

  • Kevin // Aug 31, 2004 at 12:36 pm

    Do you see yourself sticking with your agent for a long time, or is this one of those things where you sort of look ahead at other agents? I’ve heard of people moving “up” as their careers grow. What do you think of this?

  • Sasha // Aug 31, 2004 at 2:25 pm

    She sounds awesome! and has just moved to the top of my list! LOL I think that an agent with a plan is the best!

    I have a question though. Not about agents ,, but about writing. When a story is in the brainstorming phase…do you bother with character workups and such…or just concentrate on the story and let the characters come to you?

  • Gena Showalter // Aug 31, 2004 at 5:57 pm

    I plan to be with Deidre forever LOL. For me, there’s been no looking for anyone else because she’s so perfect for my needs. And let’s face it. I’m a total neurotic and not many people would know how to deal with me. Deidre’s husband is a writer, so she knows and understands our mindsets. That’s priceless!

  • Gena Showalter // Aug 31, 2004 at 6:10 pm

    Working up character sketches. . . please refer to all posts concerning laziness . I tried it once, but it just didn’t work for me. Afterward, I found myself writing an info dump at the beginning of the book, wanting the reader to know every fabulous detail I’d just made up for the characters. So no sketches for me. Once I have an idea for a story, I work best by just sitting down and writing. Oddly enough, everything falls into place then.