by Addy Farmerwww.benjaminscott.net and @Benjamin_Scott
Having just signed with my agent, Gillie Russell at Aitken Alexander, I’m delighted to share with you 10 tips to help you with your agent search. I can’t promise to make it faster, but there are several things you can do to make it easier to find that agent willing to champion you and your work. My own achievement on taking my writing journey that bit further is still sinking in, but it’s a delight to know that I’m now sharing the next stage with my agent.
2). Get involved. It’s not just a matter of joining and hoping good things will come to you. I say this as someone who lives over two hours from London and gets back after midnight from any evening event in the capital. Grab as many chances as you can to meet people and participate as much as possible.
It’s true, the more you put in, the more you get out.
3). Welcome friends who will encourage you to push your work further. I’ve been blessed to find some great critique partners. If you’re really lucky, they’ll hold off telling you to send it out until they genuinely believe your work is ready and then give you a massive shove to send it out. I’m a huge rewriter and it helped to have someone say it’s time I sent it out and stopped avoiding the submissions process.
4). Live in the moment. Celebrate all concrete achievements. Don’t worry about things you have yet to achieve or problems that don’t exist. Creative people can be easily distracted by the shiny baubles of the future, but grasp onto the future too tightly and those glass baubles can break and hurt. A question I try to live by is “What if this is it?” What if today, this hour, this minute is it? Am I going to appreciate and love this moment? Am I going to be grateful for my achievements however modest or am I going to feel bad because I haven’t won a Carnegie yet? What a thrill to have at least tried and got this far. I have no guarantee that I’ll get any further in publishing than this (although I plan and hope to do more - much more) but if this is it for me then I want to go to sleep with a smile on my face and have sweet dreams. I want to write without worrying about the future.
|More friends on a journey|
Even if your book is a perfect bestseller-in-the-making just as it is, the more people you offer it to, the higher the chances someone will say yes.6). Write more than one book (but not in the same series). I’ve stolen this advice from Sara O’Connor who told a SCBWI Masterclass that the only way to double your chances of selling work to an agent or editor is to write another book – on a different topic. I was pitching a 7+ series called Eureka Evans: A Disaster Waiting to Be Discovered, but I had a YA fantasy up my sleeve called The Summoning of Freiya Rolandson. My query letter only mentioned Freiya in passing, but my agent was keen to look at both projects. Two different books make two different opportunities – you double your chances.
7). Delete the R-Word from your vocabulary. I’m serious. Promise never to use the word Rejection again. You’d think as people who take care with words we’d find a better way to describe the phenomenon of an agent/editor deciding not to devote their time, energy and emotions/money to the book we sent them. The R-Word comes with too many connotations. As much as I can see the analogy between publishing and dating, rejection is not an easy word to feel neutral about, let alone positive. It’s also too personal. A pass from a gatekeeper is about the text and them, not about us as writers/people and them. Instead, I offer you the more neutral suggestion of a project simply being ‘passed on’ – that’s all it is. It simply wasn’t a fit this time around.
|sometimes the fault lies with the stars|