By Jennifer S. Wilkov, host of the “Your Book Is Your Hook!” Show on WomensRadio
The Literary Agent Matchmaker™
As authors and writers, we’re always learning about resources and industry tools that we can use to improve our book project performance and the enjoyment of our writing and marketing experiences. Today let’s talk about why getting an agent is the same as hiring a business partner.
For many writers, there is a mad rush to approach agents with their projects and pitch them to take them on as a client. For some, it is a sign of validation that their work is “good enough.” For others, it is a choice and path to larger publishing houses. And for still others, it is a business and career decision.
Like other businesses, a successful writer’s career is the product of the work, strengths and resources of many. While the writer may be at the center of the writing work, it takes a lot of people to take that writing from the draft manuscript to a published book.
Some writers feel that they don’t need an agent. Others look to hire them and add them to their growing team of career supporters so they can simply focus on their craft and strength which is writing.
For these writers, hiring an agent is a business decision. Funny enough, for agents – taking on the writer is too.
Business partnerships in the writing world include the author-agent relationship. Just like in other business alliances, the relationship can last a very long time when the foundation for it is based on research, information and a good match of strengths and perspectives.
As a writer, it is your responsibility to prepare for the relationship with an agent. Do your homework, Learn about the agents you want to submit to before you send in your work and writing career for consideration. Look at their websites. Read their blogs. Follow them on Twitter. Listen to them speak at conference events. Get to know who they are and what interests they have so you can determine who resonates with your project’s genre, style and audience – and with you.
As agents and agencies, each one has a particular personality and specific genres they prefer to work with. If you are looking for them, they are easy to locate and learn more about.
Just like partners in a business, agents bring skill sets a writer may not have experience with and can take these tasks on while the writer focuses on producing the writing’s end product – a great book. Agents can contact the editors at the appropriate publishing houses, pitch the project and any follow-on projects associated with it, negotiate a deal, pursue foreign rights for it and much more. They are also a good voice of reason for determining projects to work on, suggesting new projects based on publisher mandates, deciding whether to work with the same publisher or to pursue a different one for each project, and other activities to cultivate your growing career.
When people with complimentary skill sets and strengths form a professional relationship that is respectful and supportive, inevitably both individuals and their business endeavors will grow as a result.
These are the ones that last and that stand the test of time.
As a writer, approach the agent process professionally – right from the start. Prepare for it. Align your efforts and energy accordingly. This is not an adversarial relationship you are about to engage in; it is one designed to support you with what you said you wanted: to get your book published and expand your writing career.
When you don’t approach the process of finding an agent professionally, agents most likely won’t want to work with you. For them, this is a business – one they love. They, like any smart business owner, want to invest their time and energy in supporting those who love writing and enjoy the craft AND who want to engage in a relationship that will serve both parties well.
Before you consider whether you want to work with an agent or not, decide whether you want to build a team of professionals around you to support you with your writing career – or if you plan to steward this on your own. Determine what you have to offer and then seek out the individuals who can jump on the bandwagon of your book and champion it to the industry with you.
When you do, you just may find that your book is your hook to finding an agent and so much more.
Jennifer’s show can be heard every week on Tuesday mornings at 9am when it is broadcast on WomensRadio.com and syndicated on Google News and Live365.com. Each show is archived for replay listeners in different time zones and countries.
For more information on this Education Corner topic and others, please refer to www.YourBookIsYourHook.com/blog for more articles and resources to help you with your books.