Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Strange Bedfellows

Sometimes we hop into bed with an agent before thinking things through. Passion kicks in and oops, we're in "bed" with a stranger.

Just because an agent is reputable and nice doesn't mean they'll be the right fit. If you don't ask the right questions you might jump in with someone who:

Hogs the covers.

Takes up all the room on the mattress.

Huddles on the edge of mattress and you can barely reach him.

Snores in the middle of pillowtalk.

Have you thought about what to ask an agent before accepting an offer of representation? What things are you willing to overlook and what qualities are important to you?

47 comments:

Jody Hedlund said...

Hi Jessica!

The great thing about the Internet these days is that we can get a "feel" for so many agents through their blogs. But even so, much of the time, we don't really know how we'll fit until we start working with them. Just because I jive with my agent or editor, doesn't mean they'll be a good fit for everyone! In today's tough agent market, however, writer's might not have the luxury of switching until they find the "right" match.

Jessica said...

That's a really good point, Jody. Sometimes, if the bad fit is just because of surface differences, then the writer might want to "suck it up" if they want to get pubbed.
Thanks for the comment! :-)

Terri Tiffany said...

Well, that is my biggest fear. I mentioned to some that the agent who had so many negative things to say the other day, asked me for a full but it would mean I had to submit it as a romance so it would be easier to sell. Not sure I want an agent who is not positive about much.

Jessica said...

Terri, that agent still asked you for a full? That's pretty cool.
:-)
That was alot of negative stuff and only you know whether you can like an agent with a viewpoint like that. Could be they'd come across as realistic to one person, pessimistic to another.
I hope you're at peace with whatever choice you make. :-)

Tamika: said...

Great post Jessica! I have followed a few agent for a while, even before I began blogging.

Of course genre aside, I get a feel for their personality from blogging. I look at the books they have contracted and that helps me.

My research will definitely need to be more thorough when the time comes.

Jessica said...

Tamika,
I like when agents blog too. There's one agent who I thought of subbing too, but after reading that agent's blog, I decided we wouldn't be a good fit. So it's definitely helpful. :-)

Eileen Astels Watson said...

I'm still trying to get the vision of being in bed with an agent out of my mind. Imagine stacks of slush piles shoving you out of your own bed. Ewwwww.


Seriously, I think it's more a feel, how we interact to one another, that I'd be most interested in before signing. I want to trust my agent for sound career advice, and be comfortable with asking him/her anything to do with my books and career. That would be the key for me.

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

I agree, it needs to be a good fit. Question asking is like the courting stage, eh? :D Great link.
~ Wendy

Jessica said...

Eileen, being comfortable asking your agent questions... I think that's SO important! Great point. And lol, sorry about the image. :-)

Hi Wendy, yep. Courting. I'm so glad I'm past all that in life. LOL Now to get past it in writing... Heehee

Janna Qualman said...

*raises brow* And just how many agents have you shared a bed with? Does your husband know? ;)

This is all so true. I shared some similar thoughts with Terri the other day. At some point, it's like we become the interviewer, they the interviewee. We hold a certain amount of control over the way things end up, and we have to be proactive. Great post, Jess!

Robyn Campbell said...

Hmmm, that agent has a strange resemblance to my hubby. :)

Isn't that why we research the agents before we query them? And then even after we get THE call, we pray, think, pray, and research some more. YIKES! Writing ain't easy! The writing is, but all the other stuff that goes with it isn't. When I first started this, I imagined a super agent(i.e. Nathan) on a fluffy, white horse knocking at my door and saying, "Please be my client. I looovvve your writing!" Then someone stuck a needle in my balloon and let all the air out. DANG IT! :)

Linda Kage said...

Oooh, very good questions. Thanks for the link. I never would've known WHAT to ask. Now, all I need is that call!!!

Natalie said...

Great questions! I was lucky enough to get two offers. I dug up all I could about both of them, I talked to them both on the phone, I emailed questions to both of them. I asked about everything from communication style to what happens if we want to break up. I really liked both of them but I went with Sara in the end mostly because she felt like the better choice not only for the book I subbed to her but also for the books I'll write in the future. The most important things to me were frequent communication, sales history (in Sara's case this was Kristin's sales history), and enthusiasm for my book (and my future as a writer).

Jessica said...

Janna,
You won't tell, will you? *wink*
I think proactive is such a perfect word! You're totally right.

LOL Robyn!!! Your comment made me chuckle. Yep, unfortunately agents are as human as our husbands, and that's why it's important to find a good fit. :-)

Jessica said...

Linda, I love that link. It's SO helpful. Here's hoping you'll get that call soon. :-)

Natalie, thanks so much for sharing how your journey went! I think communication style will be really important to me too. It sounds like you did a great job researching and checking out the agents. Congrats! :-)

Diane said...

Good thoughts. There has to be a no-touch list that can't be negotiated with. :O)

anita said...

Great post, Jessie! And snort on the examples. My personal fave?

"Huddles on the edge of mattress and you can barely reach him."

Well, I guess it's not exactly my fave, but it is the most relatable to me personally, as you well know. Blick.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Would I be rude for asking for a prenup before pulling back the covers? LOL

Erica Vetsch said...

Angie's comment made me laugh!

Great analogy, Jessica, and timely for me. :)

Julie Dao said...

This is such great advice, Jessica... I hope when the time comes for me to look for an agent, I'll find someone trustworthy! It is like marrying someone, isn't it? LOL It's a commitment on both sides and equally messy if one or the other cheats.

I've passed on an award to you at my blog! Eventually I'll get around to making you one too for being my first follower and blog friend. :)

Deb Shucka said...

What a great analogy. I want an agent who believes in me, but has the skill to help me polish my work, and who has the ability to sell my book to a publisher. I'll ask questions, but I've done a ton of homework with each query and trust that this partnership will happen as it's meant to.

Rita Gerlach said...

A very interesting analogy, Jessica. Oh, they can ignore you too. But on the other hand, they can keep you warm on those cold winter nights. Hold your hand when a storm arises. Chat when you need it most. But laying around in bed won't get that publishing contract. Both agent and writer need to get up, get some coffee, and get to work!

Jessica said...

Hahaaa! Rita, your comment is making me laugh. I think you need to do a guest post here. :-)

Deb, it's great that you did your homework. I didn't and that was a bad move. I agree, ability to help polish is definitely a nice side to having an agent.

Jessica said...

Julie, right on with the cheating bit. Heh.
Thank you for the award! :-)

Erica, I hope you get a great-fitting agent. :-)

LOL Angie!! A prenup sounds good to me. *snicker*

Jessica said...

Anita, I thought of you when I wrote that line. *pat on the back*

Jill Kemerer said...

It's really hard to know who will be a good fit. That's one nice thing about conferences; you can meet them in person. I find first impressions to help a lot.

ElanaJ said...

I have researched about everything there is to ask an agent. I had lists ready when the phone rang.

And you know what? They're people. And just like anyone, when you talk to them on the phone (or in person), you'll know who the right fit is. At least that's my opinion.

Stephanie said...

While I think it would be amazing to have an agent want to represent me and we clicked from the very beginning...what if only one agent is interested and you don't get that warm and fuzzy feeling? Do you pass on him or her and risk starting your career???

I was lucky enough to be offered a publishing contract by a publisher who accepts unagented submissions. Some aspects of the contract were not ideal and they were unwilling to budge.....but bottom line....it was either start my career or not. I chose to start my career and so far I've been extremely happy with my publisher and editor.

Genny said...

I think you point out something really important: that you should have questions in mind ahead of time. That's an important relationship and hopefully one that will be longstanding and successful. :)

Stephanie Faris said...

I wrote a blog about this yesterday although I'm not sure when I'll post it...although mine was posing the question, "Do other authors only query agents they really want to acquire? Or do they query everyone?" I won't go into drastic detail about this on my blog but I was inspired by going to an agent's website who was incredibly rude, stating there's too much bad fiction out there already and that's why they reject 99 percent of what comes into them. Everything was blunt, to the point, and almost defensive. I immediately thought, "I'm not sure this is an agent I'd want to work with." Anyone who takes such a negative attitude up front just seems like they'd be difficult to work with. I want someone in my corner.

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

I think respect is a big thing on both ends--mutual respect for each other in the working relationship!

Tabitha Bird said...

I never really thought about it. I guess I'd want to know that I could get in contact with them. I'd also want respect and some sort of like mindedness.

Great food for though Jess.

T. Anne said...

Oh my gosh you are so funny! I'm vying for a great agent. I was burned once and trust me it was all the lesson I needed.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

I'm reading a lot about agents on blogs. How they select clients and the way they work interests me. The whole process is a minefield.

A lot of prayer is going into this.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Jessie Oliveros said...

I am still gathering my agent list together. And even at this stage I've noticed that although an agent may be uber-successful, I'm not sure if our styles would jive.

Project Journal said...

Wow! That's a really great point : )
Hannah

Jessica said...

Hi Hannah, thanks for stopping by. :-)

Jessie, yeah, that's what I'm thinking. Sure, I'd like an agent who can sell stuff, but if possible, I'd also like an agent I'm comfortable talking to, etc.

LOL Susan, a minefield?:-) I guess you're right about that. Also, the whole process fascinates me too.

Jessica said...

T.Anne, that was a harsh lesson. sometimes, years later, we're thankful for those lessons. I hope you get a great one this time around. :-)

Tabitha, contact is a must. There are some agents who are MIA, I've heard. NOT good. :-(

Jessica said...

Kristen T, I totally agree.

Steph. F, I know exactly what you mean. The same thing happened to me.

Genny, I would love a long relationship with my agent. Debbie Macomber spoke at the conference and if I'm reading things right, she's been with her agent Wendy L her entire career. That's just amazing and inspiring to me.

Jessica said...

Hi Stephanie,
I see what you mean. I'd prefer an agent who's savvy and I click with, but if I just have to take someone who will sell my book, that's fine. Relationships can grow with mutual respect and even if we didn't click, that doesn't mean we could be professional and work together, right?
So I have my preference, but when it gets down to choosing, I might have to lose some idealism and replace it with practicality. :-) Great point!

Elana, are you sure they're people??? *grin* So you've talked to "them" on the phone,huh? LOL Thanks for chiming in. You're right, of course. It's the humanity thing that makes a good fit so important.

Jill, true. First impressions are important.

Jennifer Shirk said...

When I do eventually look for an agent, I want a true supporter. Someone who "gets" my writing and based on that can make suggestions to better my career.
You can get a good idea of what an agent likes to see in writing from blogs but unless you really talk to them, it's hard to get a feel for personality.

SPEAKING FROM THE CRIB said...

hmmm ... not to the agent stage yet

Jessica said...

Hi Jennifer, that's true, although some agents' personalities come through on their blogs, but I don't know if most do. A supporter...yep, I agree.

STTC,
Thanks for stopping by. The agent stage is fun, in a nailbiting kind of way. :-)

Yankee Girl said...

EXCELLENT BLOG!

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I'm so glad you did because now I have another awesome blog to follow. As a writer all of the tips are so handy!

Project Journal said...

It's not problem Jessica : )

Wow! The comments keep coming and they're so great, too!
Hannah

Nancy J. Parra said...

Seriously great post! Agent hunting can be like dating- lol. Cheers~

Victoria Dixon said...

Great questions, Jessica! I've got research out the wazzoo on various agents and so few responses. Sigh. Definately research your choices. You'll save yourself time, money and heartache. That said, you'll still lose plenty of the first two in exchange for more than you want of the third. ;D