Thank you so much, Laurie Alice, for sharing your story. You can find her at her website or her blog, Seize the Chance.
Continued from Part One:
Then tragedy struck. My best friend found out she had four months to live. She told me to go back to writing, to pursue that dream and not let that lousy agent stop me. My friend believed in me. Several other life-changing events occurred, too, and I found myself with a renewed relationship with the Lord, glad my secular stuff had gone nowhere, joined ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), and, by a pure miracle of the Lord, got an agent who believed in me.
I had done my research on her. She was new, so no former clients, but also that meant she was hungry. No, she didn’t have great contacts in the industry, but she was outgoing and warm and had a desire to succeed. She was also a writer, so knew people in the business. She was also working with an experienced agent. Frankly, I felt that I had nothing to lose at this point.
Ten years after that first agent told me I couldn’t write and my idea was terrible, I sold that terrible idea to Avalon Books. Family Guardian won the National Readers’ Choice Award for Best Regency the year it came out. And since then, I have sold twelve more books. Why? Yes, I suppose I have some talent and ability, and I also have an agent who believes in me, encourages me, sticks with me, tells me when something won’t work, but also tells me when something does. And an agent who always submits what she says she will.
These are the minimal points you should expect from your agent. Not all will hold your hand. If you want that, then seek one who will. If you want one who just submits and doesn’t care if your dog died and your heart is broken, so long as you meet your deadline, then make sure you know that ahead of time, too. I tend to need some encouragement, someone to call me up and say, Hello, look at that award on your desk when you think you can’t write. Look at those books with your name on the spine. This isn’t for everyone and not every agent will do this for you either. I have a friend whose agent gets her good deals, then disappears. I would hate that. Well, I’d like the deals, but I don’t want my agent to disappear.
Your agent should be honest with you about your work, but should also encourage you. She (or he) should keep you up on the market and pay attention to whom she is selling. If she’s never sold to publishing house X, she may not have a connection there or like the stuff those editors do, so she’s not a good fit.
Whole books are written on this subject, so I’m just summarizing as best I can. Feel free to ask questions in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer them.