Finding an Agent: The One-Two Punch
Blogger: Wendy Lawton
If I were to give you one piece of advice about your agent search, it would be this: Employ a two-part strategy.
Stand Out. The writing field is crowded. Your biggest challenge is to stand out. Think of it as if you were trying to make it in Hollywood. The odds are not so different. The trick is to be distinctive. To be memorable.
How does one do this when every agent and writing blog is giving you advice to craft the same kind of query, to follow to a T the very same guidelines—in other words to conform. How does a writer stand out?
You can become memorable in a number of ways:
- Becoming part of the agent’s blog community. We met many of our newer clients for the first time right in the comment section of this blog. As we interact together, we get to know each other.
- Having a friend refer you to his own agent. This is not something you can come right out and ask your friend, but you can hint. No one knows us like our clients. When one of my clients say, “I think you ought to take a look at so-and-so,” it goes to the top of the pile.
- Choosing an agent with whom you have a connection. Right now in my stack of possibilities, I have two writers I’ve known through my denomination and one who lives in a nearby town and connected with me when I spoke at her church. These stood out.
- Meet the agent at a writer’s conference. When we meet someone in person, it is much harder to say no than when we get a faceless query.
- Build a stunning social network. Many times we seek out someone who has built an important platform. We’ve found that writers who can command a vigorous online following translate to authors who amass a vigorous readership.
Deliver. Once you’ve caught our attention, you need to deliver. It does you no good to come to the attention of every agent and editor in the business and when they all start requesting your work, you send a ho-hum book. You’ve squandered that first punch.
Your book has to be spot-on market-wise and beautifully written. It’s not an easy task but it’s what’s required these days. The competition is daunting.
As you build toward a publishing career, be strategic. Build in tandem—your distinctiveness and your craft.
Trust me, if you stand and deliver, you will be successful.
What’s your strategy? Did I miss any punches? How have you been able to stand out? How about your craft? How do you know when your idea is unique but not too odd? How do you know if your writing is ready-for-prime-time?