You’ve seen those wedding dress shows, right? A bride-to-be goes on a chiffon frenzied quest for the perfect gown while a group of her BFFs sit semi-circled in the salon, waiting to boo-hoo or just boo over her selection. Once in a while, though, the hunter is simply a bride-wanna-be who is willing to throw gobs of moola at a dress, despite her groomlessness. To me, that seems sad, desperate, and at the very least, poorly timed.
When it comes to writers in search of an agent, sometimes it’s really not that different. There’s a time to focus solely on craft, to learning about the industry, reading and networking. But, if this has not yet resulted in a solid, polished product to sell, why would you spend time looking for an agent to represent you?
Let’s say, however, maybe you’re like me, and you’ve been polishing, learning and preparing for quite a spell and you’re wondering if seeking an agent would be a wise next step.Take this quiz to help you decide if you’re agent-ready:
True or False?
____I have at least two thoroughly polished, market-ready manuscripts and more in progress.
____I am an active member of a professional organization for writers, such as SCBWI, and follow industry-related blogs, tweets and newsletters to stay current.
____I have a good understanding of the inner-workings of the children’s publishing industry (e.g., the role of publishers, editors, agents, reviewers and authors, the editorial and submission process, how a manuscript becomes a published book, etc.).
____I have sold articles or stories to respected children’s magazines, such as Highlights for Children, and/or perhaps even come close to selling a book to a traditional publisher on my own.
____I am actively building a platform via my own web site or blog, as well as social media.
____I am a member of a critique group and/or have a critique partner and/or have received professional critiques from agents or editors.
____I have gone from receiving unsigned form rejection letters to more of the “champagne” variety (personalized notes or letters offering a specific explanation as to why the editor chose to pass on my submission or perhaps offering constructive feedback or an invitation to submit more in the future).
____I understand the role and benefits of an agent, as well as my role as a client.
____I have compiled a list of the qualities and qualifications I am seeking in an agent.
____I have done marketing research to determine where my book fits in the current market and what makes it stand out from similar works. I can explain this in my “elevator pitch” (and I know what an elevator pitch is!)
____I am prepared and enthusiastic to shift from solo writer mode into the role of a professional with a business partner (an agent) so that I can pursue all aspects of a writing career.
____I understand agents, while amazing, do not possess supernatural powers and cannot be expected to read minds, make me stinking rich or fulfill every literary success fantasy I can conjure.
How’d you do?
If you answered with 10 or more “True” responses, consider seeking a literary agent to represent you.
If you answered with 6 to 9 “True” responses, you’re getting closer!
If you answered with 5 or fewer “True” responses, that’s okay. Keep writing, seeking feedback, and using this list as a guide to help prepare yourself to become agent material.
All things are ready, if our mind be so. ~ William Shakespeare, Henry V
I always enjoy reading your blog posts, Vicky. I passed your “Agent Ready” test, too. The most important advice I ever received from an editor is to “be persistent”. Many talented writers who lack the ability to focus on the end goal, or who give up after a few rejection letters, may never get published. Best of luck in fulfilling your dreams.
I’m so excited for you–and your future agent. What a lucky person they’ll be. Stay hopeful. Ever forward, Peggy!
Having just successfully completed an agent search (yay!) I want to suggest another thought for your list, Vicky. It’s about subjectivity and connection. In so many ways, we need to be ready for representation (and your list helps put this readiness in our control) but the real magic happens when a connection is made between our writing and an agent’s interests. We can’t control or influence their interests obviously but we can research and learn about them as people. Knowing who they are and what they enjoy helps align our work with the right PERSON, not just the right agent. I don’t know how you frame that as part of your checklist or if you even want to ha but I do know it is the final piece of the readiness puzzle.
You’ve made a really important observation, Carrie. Thank you for sharing. AND congratulations on finding an agent match! Lucky agent. Happy first day of summer to you. Warm wishes for a beautiful and productive summer, Carrie!
Reblogged this on Welcome to Frog on a Dime and commented:
Maybe it’s time to take stock. Are you ready?
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Really great perspective, Vicky. Thanks! I’ve been thinking I might be ready for an agent, but realize I’m not quite there yet (scored an 8.5 on your quiz!). Damn that social media platform!!!
While I think having a platform (or at least the scaffolding!) has become kind of a basic necessity for authors, I wouldn’t let lack of one stop you from looking for an agent, if you are ready in every other respect. Letting an agent know you’re interested or open to creating a web site, interacting on social media or assisting in other ways with book marketing and promotion will help too. Best wishes to you on your search!
Good points, Patti! Thank you for sharing. Such a smart lady!
Love it Vicky! And I love Carrie’s suggested addition. I think it’s also important to be ready to take constructive, albeit painful edit/revision requests from an agent because you realize the agent is suggesting them in your best interest and wants only to make your manuscript stronger. If a person is not ready for that level of input and the need to be that flexible, it can make for a difficult relationship! This is a great resource Vicky!
Excellent quiz, Vicky! I might add another question to your effective list: “I understand that while I may be represented by an agent, I will still need to practice patience because that is a continuing aspect of the industry at all levels.”. Okay maybe one other addition 🙂 Most agents I’ve talked to or read about look for more than one ready manuscript. More like 2-4. Gulp.
Hi Carrie, I think I’ll amend the test based on your recommendation. Sounds sensible (scary, but sensible!) Also, good point about the importance of perennial patience! Thanks for stopping by!
I always enjoy a test I can pass.