You’ve revised your manuscript, sent it out to beta readers, revised again, and now it’s cards on the table time. You’re bringing your book to that fancy conference that’s coming up and shelling out the cash for a session with an agent. But how do you make the most of your 15 minutes of professional attention? How do you even choose which agent to meet with?
There’s no magic password or handshake that will guarantee you a successful meeting — if there was, I promise I’d be sharing it here. The good news is, if you’ve persevered to this stage, you already have the skills to maximize your chances. Hard work and preparation may not sound flashy, but they’ll take you far. Ready? Here are a few strategies I’ve found helpful:
- First, draw up a list of attributes your dream agent would have. I’m not talking about a hotline to the heads of publishing houses or connections to Steven Spielberg — you’re dreaming, yes, but keep it realistic. For example, are you the kind of person who needs the reassurance of a big, experienced agency in your corner? Or do you want an upstart agent who is setting up her own shop and is hungry for business? Is having an agent with a solid social media presence important to you? Or will you chew your nails and glug antacid every time your agent tweets about the manuscript she’s currently reading? Do you expect lots of hand-holding, or are you more comfortable with a strictly professional relationship?
- Next, make a for-your-eyes only list of attributes that are important to you and keep it handy. Use it as a guide to help you narrow down your choices as you do your research. You make up half of the agent/author relationship, and you want to find someone you are comfortable working with, not just leap at the first agent who shows interest. At the same time, try and stay somewhat flexible, and remember that agents are people too — they grow and change with time, just like everyone else.
[pullquote]Remember that agents are people too — they grow and change with time, just like everyone else.[/pullquote]