Vision: A Resource for Writers
Hunting Your Agent
I am a writer but at conferences I moonlight as a huntress - my prey is an agent.
Very carefully, though I make it seem spur of the moment, I approach my unsuspecting victim. The agent does not know it but I have done my research. I know what is represented by her agency and that we would be a good fit. I know who her clients are and that this is an agent I would love to have represent me. Ideally this agent is a member of AAR and charges no fees, though, some that do are reputable.
After doing my preliminary research, I gird myself with the weapons of a writer - words and knowledge. I have prepared a "log-line" to describe the essential plot of my book in 25 words or less. For my book "Inheritor" I wrote, "The story of an idealistic young man who seizes power and destroys his people's lives to ensure their survival during a 75-year arctic winter." I am prepared to answer any in-depth questions about my book and have five marketing ideas I can discuss. I also know who my competitors are in the bookstores: Herbert - Dune, Martins - Song of Ice and Fire, Rawn - Dragon Prince.
Donning my armour - good business casual - I am prepared to pursue my agent. I do this gently. They are people. They tire very quickly of being accosted in the hallways at conferences, by those just like me.
Find a discussion opener. Did you admire her presentation? Do you have a question about it? Then shift the topic and ask if she might have thirty seconds to spare for your log line. Most will say "yes" as they are always on the lookout for the next best-seller and since you have not made them feel hunted, they do not realize that they are well and truly caught. If she seems interested, offer to take her for a quick coffee (or cocktail) in the hotel bar to discuss your work further. If you get lucky she will say "yes." If not, you may still get a card and an invitation to submit ahead of the queue, which is an advantage the regular query approach rarely gets.
Good places to begin your research for the right agent are the current Writer's Market, online (literary agents) and by word of mouth with fellow writers. Check out:
- Association of Author's Representatives
- Writer's Market Online
Keep in mind that most reputable agents do not advertise in magazines or newspapers.