Last week, my blog subject was The Idea Editor (hereinafter to be referred to as the IE). Admittedly, it was only my opinion, but I believe in the importance of a good, professionally trained, experienced, NYC publishing house, acquisitions editor. Now, because a couple of people have asked, “What makes the Idea Agent?” I’ll turn my thoughts that way. And hey, it’s the Holiday Season and Santa is stuffing his bag, so why not ask for what we really want?
Like the IE, the Ideal Agent (hereinafter to be referred to as the IA) has a lot more going for him than just talent. A *LOT*! I’ve had two, and I have friends who have been through several. Not one is perfect. But they are all involved in the process of writing a book from start to finish. (As usual, I am using the universal he.)
- Most NYC agents either live in New York, or travel there very often.
- My IA has at least 2 years working under a senior agent in a mid-sized literary agency.
a. I’d prefer the senior agent himself, because when he calls an editor (yes, he will call them by name and send them Christmas gifts and birthday cards) they pick up immediately. When he says, “this writer is multitalented and marketable,” the editors listen and may well put aside works by lesser agents to take a look.
b. That said, if I have a younger, junior agent, he may be more hungry, more intense about selling my book, because he has a name to make. There are things to be said for both experienced-senior and younger-hungrier.
- He is well read in my genre. He knows *everything* that has happened in the genre for the last 5 years or more, and he can site author and book when talking about trends.
- If he is a former acquisitions editor, so much the better. It means he knows what to look for in good, quality writing and will know the IE for me.
- Like the IE, the IA has studied his particular genre back and forth and can quote sales numbers, new promo methods, and give me the latest NYC gossip because he is plugged into the scene.
- He knows agents and editors in his genre and in others. They like him enough to buy him drinks at cons, and to steer clients his way when they discover a gem-of-an-author who is not right for their house. (Yeah, this one is stolen verbatim from last week’s blog. So sue me…)
- His knows the buyers for my genre at B&N, BAM, and Borders.
- He returns my emails within 24 hours (except weekends and when he is out of town.)
- He returns my phone calls within 24 hours (except weekends and when he is out of town.)
- He has no fear when it comes to fighting for my work. And he doesn’t give up easily.
- He likes me. Yeah, he has to like me, because I can’t develop a relationship with him if he doesn’t. IEs come and go. The truly IA may be with me a lifetime.
- He likes my work. Again, this should be number one. An agent who likes my work is a gift from heaven. If he likes my work and me then he will talk about me at cons and increase my name recognition. Then when I need to change houses, he can up the IE and say, “Faith is ready to switch houses and she has a killer manuscript. She is contractually free and you two would be perfect for each other.”
- Perfection is impossible, and every writer will have some desired agent qualities not listed here. So feel free to toss in your own requests
A good agent is worth his weight in gold. Like the Ideal Editor, the Ideal Agent makes writers better writers.