Monday, February 17, 2014

SCWC: What to Expect from Your Agent—And What She Expects from You!

My notes from the Southern California Writers' Conference.

• Main thing—look for authenticity (on the part of both author and agent)

• Passion—important for agent to be passionate about your work. Crucial for their pitching.

• Honesty in author/agent relationship. Editorial feedback, valuable critiques

• Ethics—agent should be following AAR guidelines. How do they earn their profits? You shouldn’t have to pay to get your work evaluated! Follow your instinct, avoid red flags.

• Communication—sometimes writers are afraid to ask questions about their work. Ask your agents questions, you have a right to know! Follow-up with agent and make sure they follow-up with you.

• Agent should have a plan (proposal package), should know editors/people that would be interested in your work.

• Agents can secure advance for you, negotiate contracts, review royalties, make sure publisher sticks to their deadlines. Handles foreign rights. Works as a middle man to resolve issues between writer/publisher

• Agent should be open-minded, creative, and flexible. Be open to new possibilities/change and grow with the times since the publishing industry is always changing.

• Is agent committed to your work? How persistent and dedicated are they? Do they know when to cut their losses and move to Plan B?

• Make query letter short/brief. Give an idea of command of language.

• What is author’s plan? Do you want to have a career? Do book tours?

• Contract red flag—excessive bias/favor towards publisher, publisher tries to take all the rights

• Ask agent for references, check to see who they have published, what books they represent

• 10%-15% commission for agents

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