By Guest Blogger Jessica Faust
Literary Agent & Owner of BookEnds Literary Agency
1. Not following an agent’s rules exactly will get you rejected.
Not true. Agents have a list of guidelines they’d like writers to follow when querying because it makes our lives easier and while we prefer you call us by the correct name, include the title of your book, or include your phone number, forgetting any of that will not result in an instant rejection. What will get you rejected is not exciting the agent enough about your work.
2. Agents never take risks.
Not true. Each and every submission we send out, each and every offer of representation we make is a risk. Agents take risks all the time, but educated and calculated risks. I can’t offer representation on a book I don’t understand well enough to sell, but there have been plenty of times I’ve offered on something I loved, but didn’t necessarily feel 100% confident I’d find a market for.
3. Agents blacklist authors and spread the news to other agents far and wide.
Not true. Frankly, if we’re talking or complaining about anyone it’s editors [wink]. Rarely, if ever, do we sit around together and share query horror stories.
4. Getting an agent is the hard part.
Wrong. Getting an agent is the easy part. The real hard part isn’t even finding a publisher. The hard part? Finding readers and keeping them.
5. Agents have all the power.
Really, really not true. You might think we do because when querying we frequently say no, but the truth is that you have all the power. Authors provide us with our product and without you we would have nothing. If you think we have all the power you should sit on our side of the desk when a call of representation is offered and the author is talking with other agents. Now who has the power?
6. If you get your own deal, you don’t need an agent.
I think this depends on you. A lot of people talk these days about how authors can negotiate their own contracts and certainly they can and I do believe that authors should spend more time learning about contracts, but, the question is, how comfortable are you doing that? My job is to negotiate and I’m pretty good at it. When it comes to your own career are you willing to push and fight as hard as you need to or is there a possibility the fear of angering editors might make you back off?
7. “Top Tier” Agents are always better.
This one confuses me because I never understand who this top tier is. The best agent is the one who is smart, tough, respected on all sides, honest, and works for you in a way that works for you. An agent’s “tier” doesn’t matter if the two of you can’t see eye to eye on most things.
8. With e-selfpublishing, agents will soon be extinct.
Maybe, but I doubt it. The publishing landscape is changing in new and exciting ways and rather than look at it as a time when everything is being torn down, I like to look at it as a time of new opportunity for everyone.
9. Agents won’t consider you unless you’ve been published.
Not true. In the past 9 months I’ve taken on three new authors, none are previously published.
10. An agent’s job is to do whatever the author says.
Not true. An agent’s job is to partner with the author to build a successful career and this sometimes means telling the author “no.”