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CynV
06-22-2010, 08:48 PM
I didn't see a thread on this so I wanted to post the question.

Do any of you AWers have an agent? If so how did you go about getting and keeping their attention?

I've been writing for a little over a decade now and though I've started to make some headway I'm really trying hard to get to that next level.

My latest novel is a very commercial genre piece that has returned feedback from agents saying it is strong but inevitably I get the old "it's not for us" or "I just didn't love it."

What do agents want? Or is that the universal question?

For the first time in my career I'm starting to get discouraged so I was just looking for some fresh perspective.

Thanks in advance.

CAWriter
06-22-2010, 09:04 PM
I met my current agent at a conference. I sat with him at dinner and as we chatted he asked to talk with me further. When I asked him what made him want to keep talking, he said he knows I can write as I was previously published, and that he could tell I "have it." "It" being the drive, understanding of the business, adaptability and such that he wants to see in a client.

I keep his attention by staying in touch; asking appropriate questions, emailing information related to projects we're working on, etc. And while some might disagree with me, I've gotten to know him as a person and not just my salesman. Our conversations aren't always personal, but many of them contain personal elements about families, interests, etc.

In genuinely believe that personal contact with them can make a difference. If they like you as a person, as someone they want to interact with and advocate for, if your ideas and writing have merit too, they're going to be interested in working with you over the writer they've only seen on paper.

Not everyone can attend a good conference, and certainly not all agents do attend or are very accessible once there, but the opportunity for personal contact will get you further, faster than generally anonymous submissions. (By the way, if you look at it as an investment in your career, the money spent by attending a conference that gives you access to editors and agents can be some of the best money you'll spend. And if you can get involved in the organizations that plan the conferences you get more access and probably pay less money.)

My .02.

Calla Lily
06-22-2010, 09:36 PM
My experience:

I got my agent through a regular slush query, after I'd checked him out in the BR&BC forum.

Agents want something that grabs them and says "You MUST read me NOW". (My agent called within 24 hours to ask for the full. That is, however, unusual.) That translates into something that they know has commercial appeal and that they feel excited about. Both those factors will be apparent when they sub to editors.

When I got The Call, we talked about other books of mine, his experience and vision for my career, and my experience in marketing--which showed him I knew this is a business, not me sending my precious baby out into the scary world.

I attended one large conference several years ago and gained a lot of experience from it. If you can afford it, I'd suggest hitting one that's focused on your genre, if you can (Bouchercon, RWA, etc.).

Good luck!

suki
06-22-2010, 11:27 PM
I signed with my agent in October 2009, and he is currently shopping my first novel, so my answers are from that perspective.


I didn't see a thread on this so I wanted to post the question.

Do any of you AWers have an agent? If so how did you go about getting and keeping their attention?

I sent him a query with the requested pages attached. He asked for the full. Read it. Offered representation. So, it was all on strength of the manuscript, really. I mean, I'm sure it helped that when we talked I was a relatively normal, rational human being. But really, getting and keeping his attention was all about the book. ETA: And as a client, I don't feel like I have to do anything to *keep* his attention.



I've been writing for a little over a decade now and though I've started to make some headway I'm really trying hard to get to that next level.

My latest novel is a very commercial genre piece that has returned feedback from agents saying it is strong but inevitably I get the old "it's not for us" or "I just didn't love it."

What do agents want? Or is that the universal question?

They want what they want - a story they connect with and think they can sell well. So, if you're only getting "not for us" rejections, you're either really close or really far away. And by that I mean that if they are all form rejections, it's hard to tell whether it was just a matter of subjective taste or whether there were issues of mechanics, story, plotting, voice, marketability, etc. BUT, until you get feedback of a specific area of issue, there's really nothing you can do but keep querying.



For the first time in my career I'm starting to get discouraged so I was just looking for some fresh perspective.

Thanks in advance.

Getting discouraged is hard. And there are many, many success stories of writers writing and querying for years before finding an agent who connects with one of their books.

Keep plugging away until you have concrete evidence that maybe some area of your writing/story could be made more effective or marketable.

But the hard truth is that when you are close - ie, the mechanics, plotting, story, characters, voice, etc. are all good - it's just a matter of getting the attention of the right agent with the right manuscript at the right time. And that is a combination of perseverance, research and luck.

good luck.

~suki

Jamesaritchie
06-22-2010, 11:54 PM
I signed with my agent in October 2010,

~suki

Are you sure about the date you signed?

suki
06-23-2010, 12:38 AM
Are you sure about the date you signed?

LOL - thank you for catching that - October 2009. I'll head up and edit now. :ROFL:

That's my 3rd funny typo today. Maybe I shouldn't be playing.

~suki

Amarie
06-23-2010, 12:58 AM
There are many people with agents on AW. Check out the Goals and Accomplishments thread to see some of the more recent signings.




But the hard truth is that when you are close - ie, the mechanics, plotting, story, characters, voice, etc. are all good - it's just a matter of getting the attention of the right agent with the right manuscript at the right time. And that is a combination of perseverance, research and luck.


~suki

So many things have to come together that you want to make sure you are getting the right people to give you feedback before you query. If you are getting personalized rejections, you at least know you are on the right track. Sometimes it's hard to tell between a personalized one and a form though.

Jamesaritchie
06-23-2010, 01:14 AM
LOL - thank you for catching that - October 2009. I'll head up and edit now. :ROFL:

That's my 3rd funny typo today. Maybe I shouldn't be playing.

~suki

I was hoping that was the correct date. It sure would be nice to be able to get a few things done before the date you do them actually arrives. I'd never worry about deadlines again.

Jamesaritchie
06-23-2010, 01:19 AM
The short answer is that agents want books that publishers will buy, so it's generally easier and faster to figure out what publishers want. Learn this, and you know exactly what agents want.

The best way to learn what publishers want, and how they want it, is to read their guidelines, and read the books they publish. In particular, read the bestselling books in your genre.

I will say that high concept is often easier to sell than low concept, but this still means you look at what turns the best profit for publishers, add you own unique talent and insight to the mix, and write the book accordingly.

ChaosTitan
06-23-2010, 06:41 AM
Do any of you AWers have an agent? If so how did you go about getting and keeping their attention?

I signed with my agent in May 2008 via the slush pile+referral. That is, another agent requested my full from a query, said no, but then asked if she could give it to a colleague who might be interested. I said yes, she could. He offered four days later.

The best way I know to get an agent's attention is to write a good, eye-catching query letter. In order to keep their attention, you then have to give them a book that is interesting, well written, and is marketable. Agents sign authors they can sell.

And persevere through rejection. The agent you decide to not query night be the one who would have signed you.



My latest novel is a very commercial genre piece that has returned feedback from agents saying it is strong but inevitably I get the old "it's not for us" or "I just didn't love it."

What do agents want? Or is that the universal question?

Definitely the question of the ages, but it does boil down to agents want books they can sell, and authors they can work with long-term. Hearing "it's not for us" can be frustrating, because it's basically a form rejection.

Feedback telling you it's strong is great! It probably just means you haven't gotten it into the right hands yet. But even strong books aren't always salable books.

All you can do is keep trying.

CynV
06-23-2010, 08:57 PM
Thanks guys, alot of food for thought there. I guess alot of it has to do with timing as well.
I'm just in a funk. Appreciate the advice.

kaitiepaige17
06-23-2010, 09:02 PM
Nope, not yet. Still on the search.

Nya RAyne
06-23-2010, 09:28 PM
Thanks guys, alot of food for thought there. I guess alot of it has to do with timing as well.
I'm just in a funk. Appreciate the advice.


I don't have an agent, but it's only a matter of time. Don't give up I'm sure it's only a matter of time before you hit pay-dirt!!!

Shady Lane
06-26-2010, 07:40 AM
I signed with my first agent in February 2008 through slush and referral. She sold my first book in July 2008. Split with her in May 2009, found my second agent from the slush in July 2009, he sold my second two books in August 2009. He left to be an editor in January 2010, I was passed to someone else at the agency, and she sold my third and fourth books earlier this week.

Many agents for me.

Kathleen42
06-26-2010, 07:53 AM
I signed with my first agent in February 2008 through slush and referral. She sold my first book in July 2008. Split with her in May 2009, found my second agent from the slush in July 2009, he sold my second two books in August 2009. He left to be an editor in January 2010, I was passed to someone else at the agency, and she sold my third and fourth books earlier this week.

Many agents for me.

I didn't realize that your first agent sold Break. I always assumed it was the second.

Stacia Kane
06-26-2010, 08:18 AM
I signed with my agent in March 2008; I queried him on a Monday and signed with him on the Wednesday. I got his attention by writing the best query letter and book that I possibly could, really, and I don't really worry about keeping his attention; I'm his client, and he's my agent, and we've got a very friendly relationship and talk about things besides just work.


What agents want really is the universal question, and honestly it's best not to worry about it. Just write the best book you can, and start querying it, and query widely. You never know who's going to love it. :)

Cyia
06-26-2010, 08:27 AM
I have no agent yet, but my new MS is close to being finished (fingers crossed for July!) and based the last MS I sent out, which didn't land me an agent but they enjoyed(don't ask me how that one works), I have 3 agents who want to read part of the upcoming one, another requested a read based on my blog and another from other blog postings.

Put yourself out there. Someone will notice. Read agent and writer blogs, too. I've gotten 2 partial reads from contest winnings that way. Getting a guaranteed read from an agent with guaranteed feedback on what does and doesn't work is worth the half hour or so a day you invest reading blogs to find the opportunities. Reading also gives you a chance to get a feel for certain agents' personalities. There are some I read for information but probably couldn't work with - our personalities would clash. Others have risen higher on my query list.

jjdebenedictis
06-26-2010, 10:00 AM
I had an agent. We parted amicably just recently and so I'm back to querying again. Joy, joy, joy.

One thing I'll point out is when you're feeling frustrated, it's often because you're on the edge of a breakthrough, and things are going to start falling into place very soon. When you're miles from your goal, you often don't feel frustrated at all because you can tell you aren't close yet.

Or, to put it more briefly: Don't give up; it's gonna happen!

Christine N.
06-27-2010, 12:44 AM
Here's my history:

I started writing in Sept. 2001

First book (queried late 2004/early 2005) - no from all agents. Rewrote query with help of AW, sent to small publishers. Requests to read from small publishers w/new query. Pubbed by one late 2005; sequel pubbed 2007

Second book (queried 2007) - requests for partials from agents, but ultimately rejects all around (which meant I had learned to write a better query!), though I did get some nice personal feedback. Slightly larger small press accepted, which also published second book in series. Third book went to a different small publisher because first publisher dropped series.

Latest book - nine years after I started writing, mind you. Finished it a few months ago, workshopped it to editors through local SCBWI. Went to NJSCBWI conference, talked with editors at NY houses, have permssion to send (and have sent to one). Queried one agent with it, but I knew she would be interested in this type of book.

She's requested the full. The first full ms request I've ever had from an agent, and it took me nine years. She may still reject, but I think I'm on the right track.

It's taken me nine years. Nearly a decade to get ONE agent to look at a full manuscript. I'm just repeating it so you see that it's not nearly as bad as it seems. :)

And now I'm back to writing the next-to-last book in my series while I wait to hear from the publisher and agent and try not to vomit.

Ryan_Sullivan
06-27-2010, 12:01 PM
I signed about a month ago. Just got my list of editors we're submitting to yesterday.

I went through the slushpile too. I had got tons of rejections (all based on query, or query +5/10) before I got the courage (or recklessness) to just query him. (He had been my dream agent, so thinking I'd never get him/if he said no I should just quit, hadn't queried until the end.) He requested a full, and called me. Basically, he liked my writing and voice, but thought my premise was "familiar." So I wrote a completely new book (which he read halfway through, and gave comments, at the end, giving revisions, and then after revised) and I signed.

Every agent wants something different. He's big on voice/character, and mine struck a chord with him. Some agents like plots, some mood, and some other things. Make sure their interests fit your strengths. Agents are readers too, and they have to love your book. It's not always a matter of not being good enough--you just have to find the right fit. And that can take lots of time, effort and good old fashioned querying.

seun
06-27-2010, 03:09 PM
An agent?

Fat.

Chance.