Friday, March 07, 2008

Agents: Can't Live Without 'Em...

Many of you who read this blog are preparing to attend the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, one of the best ones around. I've been to three conferences at MH, and I'm sorry to miss it this year. One of the things many of you will do at the conference is meet with an agent. The way the industry is shaping up, it's extremely difficult--sort of "camel through the eye of a needle" difficult--for a writer to get published without an agent. Not impossible, just tough.

When you meet with an agent (or editor), the first thing you'll have to do is get their attention. This "pitch" is the way you get your foot in the door. In my last post, I recommended that you sign up for author CJ Lyons' free newsletter, since one of the benefits is the ability to download her tips for making your pitch. I've seen the tips and I like them. They've certainly worked for her. You might want to get hold of a copy before you leave for the conference. Then you can practice your "elevator pitch" (30-45 seconds) on your seatmate on the flight.

Once you have an agent, is it automatic that you'll get published? Far from it. But agents do a lot to earn their 15%. My own agent tells me she's too busy (working for me and her other clients, obviously) to have a blog, but my friend, agent Rachelle Gardner, has one in which she shares lots of information about the industry. Check this post on how an agent earns his/her 15%. It will open your eyes.

Unfortunately, sometimes the author-agent relationship doesn't work out. Agents, like baseball managers and football coaches, do get fired. For an excellent post about the ethics, mechanics, and reasons for the process, check out this post from Bookends LLC Literary Agency.

Good luck with your writing and with finding an agent to represent it. But be warned. Even if you find the rainbow, sometimes the pot at the end of it isn't what you expect.

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