Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday Fricassee

Writing a Friday Fricassee during Secret Agent contests feels...superfluous.

Still, much of the critting has already occurred, so I suppose a few of you may actually read this. So here goes.

Let's talk about your DREAM AGENT.

I know, I know. Some of you haven't begun to query yet. And some of you are agented. But let's talk about this without using actual agent names. It's never too early to think ahead, and it's never too late to be thankful for what you may already have.

In short: What is important to you?
  • Having an editorial agent? Or a non-editorial agent?
  • Having an agent the same sex? Or doesn't matter?
  • Having a sparkly-new agent? Or a crusty old established one? (or not-so-crusty...)
  • Having a lot in common personally so you "click?" Or doesn't matter?
  • Having a huge sales record? Or is the editorial/relational just as important (or moreso)?
  • Boutique? Or monolith? (Think: Writers House)
  • Computer-heavy? Or phone-and-paper?
Regardless of where you are in your personal journey, share your thoughts! And if you haven't formulated those thoughts yet, perhaps now's the time.

As always, I look forward to reading your comments!


  1. I'd like an agent I click with, probably from a boutique. A little editorial-ness would also be good, but not a ton.

  2. Listed in order of importance to me.

    1) They must love my work. Not just like it a little or think maybe they can sell it, but they must be genuinely excited about my writing (and not just this book, I'm in it for the long haul and I want them to be, too).

    2) I'd prefer someone with at least a bit of an experience crust. I'd like to see some books sold that I myself would read (and thus in my target genre). They don't need bestseller-studded walls, but I want to know they're a professional.

    3) I'd be thrilled to find an agent who had at least some measure of editorial bent. Someone who I could sit down for coffee with (even across Skype) and we can say "Okay, now what?" and brainstorm out some ideas. I'd like someone I click with at least on that level, who could reject/encourage/suggest next projects based on sales pitches and synopsis. Someone completely hands-off "Get back in your hole and write me another book and I'll tell you THEN whether I want to try to sell it" is not what I'm after, though they don't have to be my BFF or hold my hand, either.

    Beyond that, I have no current preferences. Male, female, email, snail mail, young, old - doesn't matter to me.

  3. My dream agent would be someone who gets me, loves what I do, and knows how to sell my work. Everything else is details. Although a good sense of humor would be a bonus.

  4. I'd like an agent who likes me, she said in a sad little voice.

    In a slightly stronger voice, she continued, I'd love an editorial agent with a good track-record who, like me, is in this not for the book but for the long haul. If we like the same books and can become friends and giggle over cocktails sometimes, so much the better. But I'm not greedy. Not much anyway.

  5. I have a friend who loves my writing. When she became an agent, she requested I submit to her. I did. She rejected that story. And what I wanted in an agent gelled.

    I want an agent who is madly passionate about what I've written. Everything else is a minor detail.

    If my agent is not passionate about my manuscript, then how much energy and effort will go into the selling of same? Getting an agent is just one (significant) step
    on the path to success as a writer. But it certainly is not a guarantee of getting published.

    If I need editing, I have my critique group and I have friends who do that for a living. I'd love an agent who also did that - someone to work with one on one to improve the manuscript and make it more marketable. But it's not essential.

    Of course, having a reputable agent or a new one working out of a reputable agency is not a minor detail.

    So - reputable and passionate about my manuscript. That is not just my dream agent, I won't settle for less.

  6. First, I just want to thank-you publicly for the contest. I have submitted chapters of a previous book to a dozen traditional contests. At least 20 people have read the book I submitted for this contest, including several writers who gave me specific feedback. But I have to say that seeing a range of comments by different people on the first 250 words of it
    has been as valuable as any feedback I've received about my writing. Some really liked it and some didn't like it much, but taking all the different comments together has allowed me to zero in on several things. So thanks!

    Regarding a dream agent, that's a tough question. I suspect if I had an agent, I'd have a better handle on it. Right now, it's simple - if I want to be published by a major publisher, my choices are basically to self-publish and sell tens of thousands of copies (not likely) to attract their attention, or to have an agent.

    Please note that I am NOT suggesting that this is the only purpose of having an agent. Not at all. But I can't really answer most of those questions. I can say I don't think I care about the agent's gender or experience or the size of the agency, but possibly I would find that I'm wrong. My gut tells me that aside from the actual ability to sell my book, the best agent for me needs to be able/willing to give me advice about all things relating to my writing business. That includes editorial and other types of advice. That's the biggest value an agent offers - he/she is a professional in the business of publishing and I am not.

  7. I know lots of people have ponderific insights and copious lists for qualities of their dream agents. But I'd have to say that I think some of us are deluding ourselves.

    Personally, and for most others, I think there is only one criteria: Breathing :)

  8. I'm not particular, at least as far as I understand things now. I've been querying agents both female and male, from large agencies and small, editorial and non. I'm just hoping to find that one who has the passion for my story.

    Although, if I did have to pick one qualification from your list, I'd prefer one who does a lot via email. I'm never very comfortable talking on the phone.

  9. I definitely would prefer an agent I click with, whether female or male, editorial or non-editorial, boutique or monolith. Experience is always a plus, especially within the genre I'm writing. It's good to know your agent will have the right connections for your kind of book. The sales record of said agent doesn't have to be huge, and I'm not opposed to new agents within a well established agency. And I definitely prefer computer savvy agents over the alternative.

    Great post!

  10. What do you mean we can't name names?????

    Like most people, I want an agent who loves my work and who gets me (and who doesn't mind my wackadoodle sense of humour...or my love of melted cheese products).

    I don't think location, agency type, sales record etc... matters if you can find someone you really click with, but I would have a hard time working with someone who wasn't computer-savvy.

  11. I had to re-read your question because I thought you asked if it was important to me if the agent was having sex. Uh, well, not really. :)

    I used to have a dream agent in mind name wise. Now it's got to be someone who loves and gets my story and who clicks with me. An editorial agent would be nice. The rest isn't important to me, except I would only query a new agent with an established agency.

    Since my kids have an annoying habit of asking me questions ONLY when I'm on the phone, I'd prefer a e-mail loving agent.

  12. I'd like an boutique type agent with loads of contacts in my book's genre. She would need an awesome sense of humor and we would def have to click. She could be editorial. The only thing she has to have is the confidence she can sell me book!!

  13. Love my manuscript, and I'll love THAT agent.

    Seriously, it's hard to answer because it's all theoretical. Right now, I look at the agent's list before submitting to see if the people they represent write books in my genre. If I meet a nice one at a conference or like the agent's blog, that agent seems perfect for me. I don't think I'll know until I get an offer or start working with one.

  14. My biggest criteria, as mentioned by pretty much everyone before me here in the comments, is an agent who *gets* my writing, and is willing to support my whole career, not just one book. I think I would like an editing agent, but who knows. I hope that I don't get overly excited and grab the first agent who winks at me!

  15. Well...let's see.

    I don't really care if it's an agent from a large agency or a small one. I do want to see that they've either sold to the big six recently, or (if they're new and starting up) that they have recent experience working with those who have.

    I would like an agent who also edits...not because I want or expect them to edit for me, but because it would be nice to know the talent was there, should I need a little boost on a future book.

    I would prefer a female agent, because I'd love to someday meet in person at conferences, etc., and I'd feel a lot more comfortable doing that with another woman.

    Yes, they need to be computer-savvy. I know old-time agents can still probably do will with pens and papers, but that would just drive me nuts! And waste a lot of my time, since I can type waaaaayyyy faster (and more neatly) than I can hand-write. Please don't ask me to any more by hand than is absolutely necessary!

    Finally...if an agent and I don't have a lot in common and she still loves my writing, then I'm fine with that. Yet so much of who I really am comes through my writing, that I honestly can't imagine "clicking" with an agent who didn't share at least something with me. I mean...a lot of whether you like someone's writing or not has to do with their worldview. My writing reflects mine, and I'm really not sure that someone whose worldview was drastically different would ever really be satisfied with what I write. After all, there's a lot of authors that I'll never like, just because their writing reflects a worldview that doesn't sit well with me. It's a personal-thing.

  16. Like pretty much everyone else I want an agent who 'gets' me and my writing. Someone editorial would be nice and I'd probably be more comfortable in a smaller boutique type setting. But most important is that we 'get' each other. :)

  17. First off- like most of the folks here- they need to love my work :).

    As for the rest, I do think having a compatable personality is essential. If someone loves my work, but we can't really stand each other- neither of us will do well. At the same time, we don't have to be buddy buddy-it IS a business and I know that. Gender, age, experience all don't matter as long as its the right person for me and my work- not just this mss- but many many more :)

  18. I'd like an agent who is well respected in the publishing world, and who can sell just about anything. I write in a lot of different genres, and I'd want her to be able to sell everything I write.

    I'd want a woman because it's easier to relate. I'd like a small agency because it's more likely you'll get personal attention. I'd like someone with a track record, and someone who wants to be my partner - not my mother, best friend, or boss.

    And since we're dreaming, I'd want her to be reading Authoress' blog this very moment and thinking - Wow! I'd really like to be her agent. I think I'll E-mail her!

  19. I'd want an agent with a personality that works with mine, and who is passionate about my work. By the way, the Slushbusters nominated you for a Sunshine Award. We love your blog!

  20. A perfect agent would be some of all the questions you asked rolled into one...

    Is that out there? Give them my name please.

  21. I just want someone who loves my story and believes they can sell it...
    ...and I sure wouldn't reject any editorial support.

  22. In line with the rest of us grateful souls, thank you for this forum to vent/critique/cry and smile. And sometimes in the same posting.

    My Dream Agent would live and breathe my MS with the same passion I have, without the been-there, done-that attitude. We would share the same thrill to see it in print.

    In short, my DA would believe in me and my book.

    Sparkly vs Crusty? Editorial or Non-? Sex?(yes, please)
    *shrug* Nothing else matters.

  23. I don't think gender would matter much in the long run, though the majority of romance agents are female.
    I would prefer my agent to have at least a few sales under her belt and I would like her to be editorial-minded. I would have to "click" with my agent because I can't imagine having such an important relationship with someone who dislikes me or vice-versa. A cat person would be a bonus =)
    Boutique or big house...hmmm I think either would work as long as the agent loves my book and is excited to help me with my career.

  24. In my mind, I have a lot of little qualities I THINK my dream agent will have, but the one I'm not willing to settle on, the one that has to be there, is that down-in-the-intestinal-region (hmm, I'm pretty sure I just used that phrase in another blog comment somewhere...) feeling that she/he is THE ONE. That I can stick with him/her over the long haul. That she/he is completely awesome, and thinks I'm completely awesome, so, together, we can be awesomeness squared:)

    Because AN agent is not nearly so great as THE agent.

  25. The most important quality I'm looking for is an agent who believes in my story and my ability to get that across. In a perfect world, I would love one who gives a ton of editorial feedback, but I've already spent thousands on independent editors, so what's a few more hundred here or there. Seriously, though, if an agent isn't in love with my story, it won't sell. I don't care if it's a boutique agency or a larger one. This is more difficult than dating ever was!

  26. Am I the only one who feels like we're playing Barbie's Dream Date?

    Here's my wish list -
    1) Obviously, needs to first love my work.
    2) Editorial leanings would be good.
    3) "Clicking" is quite important, but not a total deal breaker if it's not there. Their job is not to be my friend, it's to be a great agent.
    4) Experience and a good sales record are things to look at, but if a new agent was someone I believed in, I could go with that.
    5) Computer savvy is preferable.
    6) If they were a west coaster that would be icing on the cake.
    7) The gender of the agent and the size of the agency matter not a whit to me.

    Okay, Universe, I've put it out there now. Feel free to attract them to me. ;)

    Thanks for the fun question, Authoress.

  27. Like most people, I want the agent to love and believe in my manuscript. Oh and not be a scam artist. Everything else is optional. But seeing as we're talking dream agent...

    I'm not too worried about editorial vs non-editorial. As long as they can sell the book then I'll be working with an editor anyway.

    The gender of the agent doesn't matter to me. I usually picture myself with a female agent because most agents are female, but I'd be happy with a male agent.

    I'd prefer a bit of experience, but as a new author I feel it's a bit hypocritical not to want a new agent :-) If I did get a new agent I'd want them at an established house though, so they would have someone to call on if they needed to. There is definitely advantages to new agents. Other than that case I wouldn't care about the size of the agency.

    I would like to click with my agent on some level. We don't have to be BFFs, and in fact it would be better if we weren't, but I would like to enjoy sitting down at a conference for a drink with them.

    A good sales record would be nice, but more important is their belief in their ability to sell my book.

    I'd really want a computer-literate agent. It's the 21st century after all. I'll send my initial query by paper (to agents in my country at least) but once I'm signed I'd want day-to-day correspondence to be over the internet, though I understand phone would be good some of the time.

  28. Pull up a chair for my cautionary tale. Learn from my mistake.

    In 2007 I signed with a grass-green noob agent who had enthusiasm and little else. I was cautioned by the amazing Victoria Strauss to wait a year to see if this agent had the chops, but starry-eyes, I signed anyway. A year later this agent closed her doors, leaving 29 clients in the lurch.

    After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I atarted querying again. THIS TIME, my criterium was simple: documented sales in my genre on PM. Big agency, small agency, male, female--side issues.

    I haunted the Bewares and Background Checks board on Absolute Write. I sent out queries in small batches. I got requests for partials and fulls, and also got many rejections. Then I queried an agent as a "Why not?" That was on a Thursday. On Friday he called (!) to ask for the full. On Monday he called to discuss the book and my attitude toward revisions (among other things), and to say he loved the book. On Wednesday he called and offered--and sold himself to me rather than the other way around. He listed his contacts, his history, and why he was the best agent for my book.

    We went on sub in June of 2009. Six months later, he called to tell me I had a three-book deal. (pause to dance on the ceiling, again)

    Thus, my once-burned, made too many mistakes to count, hard-nosed advice is: Query agents with sales in your genre. Don't be a noob agent's guinea pig. Whatever size agency you like, whether you prefer male or female agents, make sure they have SALES.

    I wone the Nov. 2008 SA contest, BTw. The gracious Colleen Lindsay passed on that book, but spent half an hour on the phone with me giving me suggestions and conpliments. I learned a lot from her, and I bow to Authoress' tireless hard work for these contests.

    May we all share shelf space in a B&N one day.

  29. You've brought up some good points to ponder.

    But then, you always do.

  30. 1) Editorial agent? Or non-editorial?
    Never gave it a thought, but my brilliant agent makes excellent global comments, which I love. Some of my friends have agents with strong ideas on story line that perhaps aren't the best, so I'm glad we're on the same wavelength.

    2) same sex? Or doesn't matter?
    Again, never occurred to me. I considered both. Mine is male.

    3) sparkly new agent? Or established?
    I went with established, because I'm starting my fiction career late, and wanted to start strong.

    4) a lot in common personally so you "click?"
    Clicking was ESSENTIAL. Perhaps above all else. I didn't sign before meeting in person.

    5)huge sales record? Or editorial/relational just as important?
    Hey, go for both. See answer to #3.

    6) Boutique? Or monolith?
    I went with a one-agent agency, which suited my personality and needs.

    7) Computer-heavy? Or phone-and-paper?
    Doesn't matter.

  31. Tami covered it so well for me; I agree 100% with what she said.

  32. Someone who loves my work and can sell it, of course. But also, it would be a huge bonus if she or he were someone I felt comfortable talking to. I'd love it if they were on twitter and blogs so I could get a feel for them and what they were working on, etc. It's not imperative, but if we're talking dream, social media is big for me. :)

  33. What is important to me?
    1. editorial agent--my polished might need more polishing...
    2. sex--doesn't matter--just need to make an emotional connection...
    3. agent experiences--just want one who believes in me and connects with me and vise versa...
    4. Don't have to have a lot in common, just have to feel confident in the relationship...
    5. sales record...(again) has to believe in me and my writing
    6. size of agency--again, just has to believe in me...
    7. I'd like to meet in person to get a good read, but I'm an email person, not phone person.
    8. The most important component...wants to work with me for the long haul, not for a project. :)

    I may be hoping for too much, but I hope to find an agent I like and one that likes me back. :)

    Thanks for bringing up the subject. It was nice to talk about what I wanted.