Dear Future Agent

So sorry I missed my weekly post last Monday. I’ve had a lot going on, and last week was peak Mardi Gras season here in New Orleans! Not that I actually went to any parades at all, but my brother was in from college and I was trying to spend as much time with him as I could.

I decided that this week, I would do a piece about my future agent. Not exactly addressed TO her (despite the title), but a sort of list of the characteristics I would ideally love to have in an agent. Of course, she may not have all of them. It may be someone I never expected, and that’s okay too! Whoever she is (yes, she. I think I would work better with a female agent), I know she will be the right agent for my work.

Okay, here we go!

My Future Agent Will…

  • Have good personal and phone skills. I’m sure this goes without saying, but I see the agent/author relationship as a partnership, two sides to a coin. I’m very introverted, so I’m kind of terrible on the phone. Passable, but not very good. My ideal agent is very enthusiastic and outgoing, and would explain things I maybe forgot to ask about in my excitement/nerves/neurosis! I want to look forward to our calls, instead of letting my nerves skyrocket.
  • Has an excellent sales track record/good rapport with publishing houses. Another one that probably goes without saying. If I can see via a simple Google search (or even better, the agency’s website) that the agent has great sales, then I’m more likely to want to work with her. Of course, this whole category is kind of silly, since this is the kind of thing I look at before I even query an agent, but it’s still a valid point. A good track record, especially with larger publishing houses, is always a plus!
  • Must at least be strongly interested in SFF – preferably her focus. This is a big intangible for me. Because I write fantasy, sometimes sci-fi, of course I want an agent who is interested in those categories, and more than just in an academic “I’d like to acquire some more of those genres.” Ideally, I would love an agent who loves SFF as much as I do, and who has sold some amazing books in those categories (yes, of course I have an agent in mind when I type this, so what? ;D). If you’re a romance writer, you want an agent who is passionate about the genre and will love and hug your manuscript until it finds a home, wouldn’t you? That’s what I want for Soulreader.
  • Hands-on: involves me in all stages possible. This is a big one too. I know I already said I’m terrible on the phone, but I would love an agent who keeps me in the loop. Nothing crazy, just a phone call every other week to check in. Even email is fine, I just want a strong working relationship. Availability to call or email with questions would be wonderful! I want to be on top of everything that’s going on (well, at least as much as possible) and be an active partner in my writing career.
  • Offers detailed editorial feedback. This goes hand-in hand with the one above. I know there’s all different kinds of agents: some offer editing suggestions and work with their authors through rounds of edits before the book goes out on submission, and those who don’t. I definitely want an agent who offers editing suggestions, and works with me to make my book even better before we go out on submission! Sometimes a writer can only look at their manuscript so much before they pronounce it done, as good as it can be, even when it really isn’t. I have critique partners, amazing ones, but sometimes not even they can catch everything. And with an agent willing to spend time working on revisions with me, I know my book would become the best it could be, and I know she really, really cares about it.

I’m not going to lie. I wrote up all of those criteria with a specific agent in mind. I know, I know: you’re never supposed to have a dream agent. I didn’t mean to! But she really is wonderful (she has my partial manuscript right now, in fact, and I’m sitting on pins and needles, along with a decorative throne made of the remnants of my fingernails). Being represented by her would be the pinnacle of my LIFE, but I also know that’s a big dream. Odds are, she won’t be my agent. And that’s okay. I’m doing what I’m supposed to do: researching agents, shining my query letter, sending queries, entering manuscript contests… I know my agent is out there, SOMEWHERE.

I just need to send her a query!

–Jenna

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About Jenna

I am 24 years old, with a bachelor's degree in English. I am currently querying a YA fantasy about assassins and magical powers, and I'm revising another YA fantasy based on Mayan civilization!
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