Did you make it to the first Missouri SCBWI Agent’s Day this weekend? If not, you missed quite an event. Agents Stephen Fraser, Kelly Sonnack and Ammi-Joan Paquette told the crowd what an agent does, what an agent expects and just how an agent and author work together.
Although all three agents do the same things for their authors, you came away with a firm understanding on just how different the three are in terms of what they want and their individual personalities.
Between each session, one writer friend and I would discuss our current ranking — which agent we would most want to work with. Not surprisingly, it changed after each session. Getting to hear the agents speak and, if possible meet them, can really help you decide who would be the best fit for you and your range of work.
Here are just a few of the things I learned.
- Can usually tell on page 1 if she will be drawn in by an author’s unique phrasing.
- Looks for work with an enduring feel, that offers lasting value.
- More than anything, a piece has to excite her; then she worries about whether it is unique to the market in general and her list in particular.
- Takes an active editorial role.
- If he sees promise in a work that is not yet perfect, he will work with you to get it ready to submit.
- Likes clients who do a variety of work because he likes to work on a variety of things.
- Does not want to see alphabet or counting books.
- Likes both the business end of things (contracts, etc) but also the literature.
- If you are going to send her a picture book, short is good (1000 words or less) but even shorter (less than 700 words) is better.
With rights available in 400 different areas on each work you sell, an agent can be key in managing your career. Find out as much as you can about the agents you are interested in. If that means traveling to hear them speak, it is probably worth your while. After all, it may be the only way you can get your work through the door of a closed house.
Doesn’t that make it worth your while to attend and event like this?