1. Agents are like Atlantis; hard to find and somewhat mythical. Sure, most have one-paragraph bios and mini selfies under ‘our team’ on agency websites. Some write a blog. A few keep their name in the spotlight with big-figure deals and best-seller client lists. But be forewarned. The bio hasn’t been updated since 1964, the blog was tossed with the dishwater, and the agent in the spotlight isn’t accepting new clients. Agents are out there, somewhere, but it’s not easy to discover what they want to see in a manuscript today.
2. Agents come from the Matrix. Okay, so they didn’t pop the blue pill, but few are in-the-know within all circles. The literary game is all about connections, who you know, and agents tend to wine-and-dine a specific list of editors. An agent who has built a list of spiritual (religion) authors, for example, is less likely to have a close relationship with the acquisitions editor for Playboy. This becomes an issue when you’re totally stoked about your latest WIP, but it’s outside your agent’s scope.
3. Agents are, in fact, human. I know, this sounds obvious, but for me, it wasn’t. I’d spent many years writing and honing my craft and had considered the next step, signing with an agent, to be almost magical, like catching the attention of a living-breathing unicorn. It wasn’t like this. And they aren’t unicorns. They are people with jobs, like everyone else. They have flaws, interests, a to-do list an arm long, and kids at daycare.
4. I will need more than one. Chances are, I will likely have several agents over the course of my writing career. I had this vision of me and my agent working together for decades, slogging over each WIP, maybe riding into the sunset together. I didn’t know agents jump from agency to agency. I hadn’t realized how many actually find it difficult to survive in this ever-changing book biz. It never occurred to me an author’s path would be so closely linked to his / her agent’s path. I discovered, it seems, why there are so many agents out there: authors eventually spread the love.
5. There is hope. I know a few authors who adore their agent, even after years of working together. I’ve also read author acknowledgments that contain nothing but praise for their agent. So, there are good ones out there. Great ones even. Keep searching. My next manuscript will be in the same slush pile, praying for a unicorn from the lost city of Atlantis.
Author of A Keeper’s Truth and GOT (Gift of Travel)
© 2017, Dee Willson. All rights reserved.