“Do you have an agent?”
This is one of those writing questions I dread in addition to “Do you think one day you’ll be ready to write for adults?” and “Why don’t you write an Oprah book?”
There is no doubt about it. Having an agent can help your career, but not all writers are at the point that they need an agent. If you want to find an agent for one of these 4 reasons, think again.
1. I just finished my first manuscript and it is ready to go!
An agent wants to shape a career, not make only a single sale. When you have written several manuscripts, that is the time to start looking. Not only will you have a body of work from which the agent can choose Project #1, but you will also have developed your writing skills more than you had with Manuscript #1.
2. Half the publishing houses are closed.
To put it simply — big whoop. Mathematically speaking, this means half of them are open. But sheer numbers mean nothing. Where are the editors who are a good match for you and your work? If they’re in open houses, it doesn’t really matter what the other houses are doing, does it?
3. The editor I want to work with is at a closed house.
You can still get to this person without an agent. Enter contests they’re judging. Go to conferences at which they are speaking or offering paid critiques. Many editors take manuscripts for a limited time following a conference but you have to have attended the conference.
4. I hate studying the markets.
Even with an agent, you need to have some idea what is selling and what isn’t, because it can help you choose one project over another. You need to know what is going on in the publishing world.
Tomorrow we’ll discuss when you might want to look for an agent.