Choosing a Second Agent
|The Gulf Islands, British Columbia|
I also signed with my second agent over the summer! It turned out that my short story "Princess" from Foreshadow: A Serial YA Anthology opened some doors for me, paving the way for new opportunities and catching my agent's eye to boot.
I was honored to receive multiple offers, and since this was my second time selecting an agent, I had a better handle on what I really wanted and needed from one. I did some things differently than last time, which I thought I would share here in case it's helpful for anyone. (Dahlia Adler also had a great post about how the process of selecting an agent had changed for her too, which I encourage you to check out.)
I really wanted an agent that I could connect with on a personal level. So how do you know?
Simply put, I wanted to see if we were able to talk, if I had the feeling I could be free and honest with them, if we connected on a gut level. If I felt like they understood how heartbreaking it was when my book with my first agent never found a publishing home, and if they could offer me the emotional support I craved. In essence, someone who was real but kind, decisive and knowledgeable, someone I felt confident could help guide me through this career.
To make sure we could easily carry on a conversation, I decided to forgo a scripted list of questions on my phone calls this time. (If you're nervous, having this list to fall back on is great. You should totally use the list!) But I'd done this once before, and I felt that it led to a stilted conversation. I also knew I'd end up asking for a second call to tie up loose ends with my top choice agent (and I did) so it didn't matter if I forgot something in the initial call. Sidenote: a lot of those internet lists of "Questions for the Call" are answered via the contract, so it might be best to hold off on those until you've had a chance to look through it.
|More Gulf Islands|
Last time, I skipped this step because I figured nobody was going to say anything bad about their agent, and I wasn't sure what the purpose was. But I'm really glad I decided to go for it this time! More information is always better. Janet Reid's blog post was super helpful for this because she clarified that you should not expect phone calls. So I reached out by email with 5 questions + a general spot for any other comments or tips.
Everyone I spoke to adored their agent, but a lot more comes through than just that. You can definitely get a better sense of the agent's style, and how the agent works in practice. How editorial are they? What strategies do they employ in guiding your career? How do they feel about working with small presses? What are their preferred methods of communication?
The best part of these references was both the connection and encouragement from experienced writers and the really fantastic tips that everyone offered. I learned a lot from them! When I asked if the clients had tips on building a good relationship with the agent, I received some really great advice (most of which would apply to any agent). Also, someone encouraged me to ask a lot of nitpicky questions about the contract, and pose different scenarios, e.g. "What would happen if X?" I ended up doing this, and was very glad I did. Thank you, lovelies who were so generous with your advice!
|Is there such thing as too many sunsets over the water?|
When you've been waiting so long to sign with an agent, it can feel like an offer can slip away at any moment. We're all terrified of taking too long to decide, or saying the wrong thing, and the offer being rescinded. Even if we know rationally that if an agent rescinds their offer arbitrarily, they're probably not that great of a human being.
The first time around, I allowed that pressure to push me into making a faster decision than I was ready for. But this time, I promised myself that it would be okay, that I could take my time. The agent I ended up signing with assured me that she'd still be there if I needed a few extra days. Even though I'd already decided this for myself, I was grateful to have her reassurance.
With all that said and done, I am very excited to share that I'm now represented by Penny Moore at Aevitas Creative Management!
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