author, author life, fiction, finding an agent, how to find an agent, literary agents, novel, publishing, query letters, researching agents, screenwriting, show business, TV writing, writers life
Cheers to all the writers & storytellers who are here today!
I want to talk to you about finding an agent because this is something I am asked about all the time.
“How do you find an agent?”
“I have no idea how to find an agent.”
“Where does one find an agent?”
“I heard that I need an agent but have no idea how to find one.”
“Do I need an agent?”
Let me start with the last one and work my way back up.
The answer is both YES and NO. It really depends on what YOUR specific goals are for your books.
If you want to be traditionally published by one of the big publishing houses in New York–then having an agent is definitely the way to go. Of course, like anything, there are always exceptions to this that will prove me and anyone else who recommends you get an agent wrong. Those exceptions might be when a writer meets an editor at a conference, or when a writer wins a contest, or something similar. Some publishing houses allow non-agented submissions too–that’s a horse of another color and I will do a whole blog post about that at some point.
The thing is, IN MY HUMBLE OPINION, the reasons to have an agent far outweigh the reasons not to have one.
Here is one example of a situation where having an agent is a good thing.
If you get an offer from a big publishing house–let’s say that you get really lucky and this happens–without an agent, you really are on your own to negotiate. I don’t recommend this for many reasons. Agents do these deals for a living. They know better than we do what is a good and what is a bad contract. They know the industry and they know what editors will be the best for you and your book.
***I have to stop and say–yes there are bad agents out there-but for the most part they are great to have on your side.
For the film and television writers out there-YES, YOU NEED AN AGENT. For all the same reasons that novelists do and more. The entertainment industry is so crazy competitive AND deals in Hollywood go south all the time. Your agent is the one who will have your back. Not only do they get your script in front of the right directors, producers, studio execs, they will also fight for you when you need it.
It’s the same as novels in that you could get lucky but it’s just not worth it in my opinion. I have worked in the film and television industry for more than 20 years and I have seen so many things go wrong that I would never go at it without an agent.
Yes, agents can make bad decisions too–they are humans, just like us but for the most part, they really are the best career partner you can have.
“But aren’t all agents just there to make money?”
Even if this was true and it’s not always true–that’s a good thing. This is SHOW BUSINESS. It’s a BUSINESS. Publishing is a business. The entertainment industry is a business. You want to make money.
***If you really don’t care or want money–you may be okay without and agent.
OKAY—now that we have decided that YOU NEED and WANT an agent.
HOW DO YOU FIND ONE?
There are many ways to get an agent.
Tomorrow my YouTube video on finding an agent comes out so please watch as a complement to this blog today!
Also on YouTube, I have a video all about why agents are rejecting your query letter and you can find that here.
Here are some of the ways that I have found to be effective for myself and others.
Join organizations for what you are writing. There you will meet other writers and most likely meet agents at conferences and events that are held within that organization. Also, most of these websites will have a resource page that has agents listed.
*See resources at the end of this blog
Here is a video on attending conferences.
Writing conferences are great for meeting and making connections.
When you go to writing conferences there are often workshops or pitching events where you get to meet agents one on one. This is a great way to make a connection. Keeping in mind that this isn’t the place to pitch to agents in the bathroom, hallway, in a workshop–unless they ask you.
Social Media is another great way to find and research your agent. Following them is perfect to find out what they like, want, who they already rep and if they are open to submissions. Don’t stalk them, but following them is really good. Many agents also participate in things like Pitch Wars on Twitter and use hashtags when they are looking for something specific-Manuscript Wishlist #MSWL. Then you go to their agency website, get the submission guidelines and submit.
Twitter and Instagram are both exploding right now (summer 2019) but Facebook is still a great way to make and create connections through groups and just being FB friends.
Social media is NOT a place to pitch unless asked to or as part of a pitching event.
Trade books like Writers’ Digest Marketplace books—although with the recent bankruptcy, I’m not sure what will happen with those in the coming years.
Query Shark, Query Tacker, Publishers’ Marketplace are all great too.
Asking fellow authors and or writers who their agents are and getting recommendations to submit.
The most important thing to do is your research and take your time.
Don’t send out hundreds of query letters. Would you do that when finding a spouse or significant other? Or if you were hiring someone to join your business? No, you wouldn’t. Your agent is like a business partner, so you don’t want to rush it.
Be selective. When you meet agents at conferences, it’s a great idea to come home and Google them. Find their blogs, social media, and anything else you can about them. You may find that they aren’t a great fit even if you loved their workshop.
I will say that the biggest mistake I see writers making is being too broad and just submitting to anyone who will and or is accepting queries. Don’t be that writer.
This is an important step in your career. Whether this is your first or fourth agent, the process is the same.
I hope that this is helpful for you. Below are links to some great resources for your agent search.
If you have other resources that you would like to share, please do in the comments!
For Children’s Book Writers
For novelists (any genre)
For screen and TV writers
Resources from Judanie Bean
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