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