Friday, December 18, 2009

Part 2: Author Rachel Hauck on the Agent/Author Relationship

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?

28 comments:

Katie Ganshert said...

The agent I have now was definitely my top pick. I think this is excellent, excellent advice!

Thanks Rachel and Jessica!

Tamika: said...

Keeping my ear to the heartbeat of Jesus is the best advice I could ask for.

The hardest would be to draw out of my shell and seek out the agents that I've been dreaming would represent me.

Thanks so much Rachel and Jessica for giving us the tools to reach out and touch our dreams!

Jody Hedlund said...

Awesome advice! I hope my agent is the one I'll always have because I love her. But I also appreciate knowing that agents may have varying skills that fit us at different points in our career.

Sarah Forgrave said...

For me, an agent with an online present is highly important. If we as authors are supposed to be marketing ourselves online, I want to know that my agent can brainstorm and support me in that endeavor.

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

I find this post to be invaluable. I am in the midst of prayer. I am hoping I'll know the "right" agent for me when the time comes to pitch.

I have a very teachable spirit and am willing to be humble. It's the discernment part that gets me sometimes.

~ Wendy

Jennifer Shirk said...

All those are great things to keep in mind! Which is why I didn't just jump on board with one.

An agent having an online presence helps with getting to know their personality but I really would need to speak to them in person and ask them questions. And pray about it!

Stephanie Faris said...

My agent is enthusiastic and very concise. She sent me a long list of revisions after first signing me and I did all of them and sent them back. Now we're working on book two. I sent it to her and she marked it up like crazy and I've now done all those revisions and am waiting for her word on it.

To be honest, the hardest thing about getting an agent is knowing what to do when you have an agent. You prepare for trying to land one...but no one really prepares you for what happens after you sign.

T. Anne said...

Great advice. I especially like praying for the Lord's guidance. I suspect now I'm waiting on his timing. Either that or it's a big fat NO. LOL. OK, I'm not giving up on the whole timing thing. ;)

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Thanks Rachel and Jessica! So much to study up on for this agent hunt. I don't know, it all seems difficult for me to wrap myself around right now.

destrella said...

Great advice! When the time comes, I feel like I have good info to think about. :O)

Linda Kage said...

Such wonderful advice. Thank you so much.

Karen Lange said...

Great advice! Thank you for sharing this, it'll come in handy. Blessings to you and your readers:)

Jessica said...

I think it's great advice too, everyone!
Thanks for commenting. I've had a busy morning but will be making the rounds later. :-)
Stephanie, I think the final part of Rachel's post deals somewhat with the after part, but I agree, there's not as much info on it.

Jill Kemerer said...

Great list! Thanks for sharing!

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

This is great advice! Thanks to both of you! Have a great weekend!

Rachel Hauck said...

Part three will address considerations after landing an agent. :)

Before landing an agent, it's so hard to be patient. If I could stress that fact, be patient.

It is worse to have a bad agent than NO agent.

And remember this: It's YOUR career. An agent will help in any way possible, give advice, sell your work to publishers, but at the end of the day, IT'S YOUR CAREER.

My first agent took me to Thomas Nelson in a designed play she came up with: she asked me to write something the editor was looking for.

That can happen. Agents are the ones in conversation with editors. They can tell you what editors are looking for in ms.

But never forget it's your career. If your agent or publisher doesn't want to represent or publish the work YOU want to write, consider moving on and finding a place where your work fits.

If you are wanting to write something that's not right for your voice, listen to what your agent and/or editor is saying.

Like, I think my editor would tell me: you don't have a "thriller" author voice. ;) So trying to write a thriller would probably frustrate everyone.

I stick with my voice strength.

But seriously, I cannot express the prayer and God angle enough. Really, really seek Him!

Rachel

Nancy said...

Good new advice I haven't seen before. I'm glad your first item is to go to God. He is the important one in any decision. For me, I think marketing would be the hardest. I have done some and it is difficult. Thanks for the infor. I'm keeping it for when I need it.

Debra E Marvin said...

Thanks, Jessica and Rachel!

Irritable Mother said...

Whether we're looking for an agent, or whatever else it may be, I think Rachel's first piece of advice is key.
Ask God for direction.
Yep.
In every step of every day, I need Him to lead me!

Jessica said...

I need Him to lead me too, and this post and all of your comments couldn't have come on a better day. Thanks!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Rachel & Jess -

The focus on prayer and waiting on the Lord is vital. The more I learn about the business side, the more I'm aware of how much I need His help.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Angie Muresan said...

Wonderful advice! Now if I can just get to writing, so I have something to show somebody.

Pen Pen said...

THANKS JESSICA!! I got my award and will post it soon!-I'll let u know when it's up!

I think I'd be good at asking about the marketing. The hardest would be being professional-I always want to talk to people like friends.

anita said...

Thank you Rachel and Jessica. Invaluable information and insights for authors about to plunge into the agenting ocean. :-)

Warren Baldwin said...

Great list, Jessica. I think #6 would be the most challenging and most helpful - accepting the hard words. I've been hit with hard words from editors, but determined to learn from those words and not be turned off from them. I followed the advice of one elder very closely to get the finished edition of "Roaring Lions." (BTW, how are you liking the book?)

WB

Deb Shucka said...

Thanks so much Jessica and Rachel for these great words of advice and experience. Very helpful, and inspiring.

Jessica said...

Hi Warren,
Hard words are definitely difficult to digest. I haven't started your book yet! It's on my pile. :-) I'm sure it will be great though!

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Jessica, this is a fabulous post. I had a friend who used to say, "I'll get an agent when God wants me to have an agent." Well, she was already published when an agent team hunted her down at a conference. Bought her coffee-told her they loved her work and asked her if they could be her agents. She tells me, how could you refuse? :)
Since I heard this story I say, "I'll get an agent when God wants me to have an agent." --but I also research and send out queries. LOL