An agent’s job is part project manager, part contracts consultant, part therapist, part editor, and always full-time advocate. We try to be so many things for our writers and all agents have particular strengths in one part of that equation.
However, what we all have in common is treating our writers’ careers like a business.
When we sign up new authors this is what we ask ourselves:
“How can we help you make a living from your writing?”
Not only do we have to fall in love with a manuscript, connect with the author personally, sell ourselves to the writer as their champion, and know how to sell their book–we have to have a strong vision for their career and know that we are the best agent to help them secure that future.
That’s why you hear agents saying “it wasn’t for me,” or “I liked it but I didn’t love it.”
We have to be looking two books, three books, or a series ahead. It isn’t just what’s on the page today, but if we think they can grow into an author we can help for years to come.
HOW CAN YOU SHOW AN AGENT YOU’RE A CAREER AUTHOR?
- In the author bio paragraph of your query letter tell us you are working on your next book.
- Have a short synopsis of your next book prepared if an agent asks.
- Know where you see yourself in 5-10 years as a writer. Writing the same genre? Switching gears? Still writing?
- Network with other writers and show a public commitment to your own success.
- Make sure your social media bios include the word writer and your posts link to writing or creative topics from time to time.
- You don’t have to have an MFA, but attending writing workshops or joining organizations is helpful. There are so many: SCBWI for children’s books, WFWA for women’s fiction etc.
- Knowledge about how the industry works. This is my top book on the business: INSIDE BOOK PUBLISHING. This will provide you with more than you need to know.
- Know what you want from an agent (other than the basics): publicity division, film/tv specialists etc.