To read part one, go here.
And now Rachel:
Here’s my advice on finding or working with an agent.
1. Ask God to direct you to the right agent. After talking with other writers, and watching the publishing world, it’s possible that some agents are wonderful for launching your career, but another agent will take you the rest of the way. I’m not sure how to recognize this with any particular agent, but go into your agent relationship with full confidence and faith that you’ll be together forever while keeping your ear to the heartbeat of Jesus. He will let you know if change is required. Pray for your relationship with your agent.
2. Be professional. Do your homework. Follow agent sites like Gardner’s and MacGregor’s. Thomas Nelson CEO, Michael Hyatt gives advice on how to find an agent. Meet with agents at conferences. Talk to other authors about agents or agencies. Look at agent or agency web sites.
3. Who does your potential agent represent? Look at their client list. Is this a good “field” for you? That’s not to say you don’t take a chance with a new agent. I did. But there was an organization around her. Nicolas Sparks was his agent's first client. Seems that worked out well. But do your research. Does he or she know the industry? Have connections? Publishing or editorial experience?
4. Pray. Be humble. Be teachable. Write a great proposal. Study the craft of fiction. Make sure when you query and/or submit to an agent, you’re just this side of ready-to-be published.
5. Attend conferences where you can meet agents. For me, being able to have some kind of rapport beyond business was important. I wanted an agent I felt like I could talk to honestly, sharing the successes as well as disappointments and tears without feeling like I was losing professional credibility. There are those HARD days and an agent can balance your perspective. Yet, it’s important to keep professional boundaries. Your agent is not your best friend. And it’s not bad to only have a business relationship with your agent, only communicating when a contract or other business is involved. But know you feel comfortable with this person. Your heart’s desire will be in their hands.
6. Don’t be afraid of hard words, of being told to go back and rework your proposal. Listen to the agent’s advice — if they are offering. Don’t fire back that they don’t know what they are talking about. Be polite and thank them for their time. If they invite you to resubmit. Do it! But first, revamp that proposal!
7. Ask any potential agent their philosophy on marketing and branding. Authors are required to do more and more social networking to boost sales, I think this behooves agents to be more marketing and promotions savvy.
Which of these tips do you think will be easy for you? Which ones seem more challenging? Do you have a list of Top Picks? What draws you to those particular agents?