This is part 5 of my series on the process of revising, signing with an agent, and submitting.
- Before The Call
- The Call (including what questions I asked)
- After The Call: Client References
I was fortunate enough to receive offers from a handful of agents. It’s a bit overwhelming going from desperately wanting an agent to getting more than one offer to making this huge decision for your career in a limited amount of time based on an hour-long phone call. For those of you in this wonderful and difficult position, these are the things I considered when making my decision:
The agent’s vision for the book.
This was the most important factor for me. I wanted the agent whose vision I connected with the most, and whose strengths balanced out my weaknesses. I wanted someone who would make my book stronger, who could get it to a place I couldn’t on my own.
All of the agents had great advice and I agreed with 99% of the concerns they brought up, but Kathleen was the one who immediately picked out my biggest concern (without me saying so) and gave me a solution (which I hadn’t been able to come up with on my own).
One of my biggest weaknesses is knowing the market, and Kathleen stood out to me because all of her suggestions for my book would make it more marketable. She also had suggestions that would up the stakes and make my book stand out more.
She also recognized the limiting factor of my book: the college setting. She explained it perfectly: a college setting in YA was the exception, not the rule. We talked about this in-depth, and we came to an agreement together that the setting was very important to the book and we owed it to ourselves and the book to give it a shot. And this segues into the next item on my list…
I wanted an agent who was open to a dialogue on revisions and being open to brainstorming the best possible solution to a problem. I wanted an agent who would find it as important as I did to get my #ownstory right.
I was lucky in that all the agents I spoke to were open to discussing revisions and supported the authenticity of my story, but I wanted to put this here since it’s 1) unfortunately not a guarantee and 2) it’s an important factor to consider.
I have friends who have left previous agents because it was a My-Way-Or-Back-To-The-Query-Trenches kind of relationship, and it’s important to figure out what works best for you. Perhaps this is the kind of direction you want: an agent you trust a hundred percent and you want to just follow their advice. But I knew that I had strong opinions on certain parts of my story and that I needed a two-way dialogue.
How well I communicated with the agent leading up to and during the phone call.
If you feel like it’s taking you a lot of extra effort to communicate your thoughts correctly and vice versa, it’s definitely something to be aware of for your relationship moving forward. Miscommunications are common, and finding an agent where these will be minimized is best.
A lesser aspect of this: some agents feel more like friends, some are purely professional, and some are a mix of both. Figure out which you prefer.
Sales record, including what genres they represent the most of, which ones they excel at selling, and what they’re most passionate about.
This isn’t black and white where you should only sign with an agent who sells a lot of your genre (since there are cons to that as well—you don’t want to be lost on their list or compete with their other authors) but at least be aware of their track record with your genre.
If you are an author who writes in multiple categories and/or genres, you want to make sure to sign with an agent who will support your future books too.
The agent’s enthusiasm for my book and writing.
This is more important if you are considering agents who don’t normally rep your genre or who specialize in categories/genres you aren’t interested in. It’s about finding the one who’s the best fit for your whole career and this book. I wanted an agent who liked my writing because I hoped it would make a better fit for a long term career.
The agency (owning their own vs being a part of a larger one).
There are pros and cons to both, so it’s important to figure out what works best for you and then factor this in.
Client references (see previous post)
Overall: my gut. I kept coming back to the same agent and even though it was hard and there were other agents I loved, Kathleen was always the frontrunner.
Some other things to consider:
- Recency bias is a real thing.
- Whoever I last talked to, I REALLY liked. Because they were all lovely people who were great at their jobs and passionate about my book…how could I not like them all? I tried to take a step back and let it all sink in, but it wasn’t easy, especially since two of my offers came the day of my deadline and one the night before. But time is needed to let everything sink in and to see everything clearly.
- Get help from others.
- As I said before in my The Call post, I wrote out transcripts of each phone call. I went over these ad nauseum with my husband, and we discussed everything. It helped to get another opinion from someone I trusted who also knew my book, my career goals, and my personality. During the two weeks after the first offer, it’s a whirlwind of emotions and having others who you can talk to helps keep you more grounded, at least in my experience.
Responding to everyone:
I was very fortunate because each agent was very gracious when I told them of my decision. I was honest and wrote personalized emails explaining exactly why I chose the agent I did. It was gutwrenching and I was sweating like crazy hitting send on each email, but in my experience they were so understanding (which in some ways made it harder, but in a good way).
- Lydia Sharp’s posts on The Daily Dahlia, part I and II
- MarcyKate Connolly’s guest post on Chasing the Crazies
Next week: Submission Demystified
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