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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

TOPIC: Going on an agent hunt...(part 2)

My first offer of representation came directly after the RWA Awards dinner. A few Aussies and New Zealanders were celebrating with me in the foyer of the Walt Disney World Swan Resort, when one friend introduced me to the agent. We talked briefly about my work, her agency and ended with her handing me her card asking to see my work. Over the next several weeks the other offers came from my email queries.

I requested phone calls and during them I asked a few questions and made more notes (I had a notebook beside me to jot things down). Elaine Spencer from The Knight Agency was the last agent I talked to.

This was my fourth query to TKA for the year (to a couple of different agents there - can you tell I was REALLY interested in them?).

I’d queried them after finding out I was a Golden Heart finalist, after winning a Golden Heart, and in person at a pitch session at the RWAmerica conference. After the RWA conference Elaine actually ended up with BLOODBORN on her desk but she was getting married that week and, while she wanted to read the work, the timing wasn’t right and she handed the work onto another agent who ended up passing on it.

The most recent, fourth query was directed at another TKA agent, but she was indisposed and away from the office. Elaine saw the query, remembered the work and my name from back in August, and emailed me to ask if she could read the full. She got back to me offering representation very quickly. The rest is history!

Now what made me decide to go with Elaine? Well, I had that personal criteria list in what I wanted in an agent. Communication was right on the top closely followed by "passionate about my work", hands-on rather than business orientated only, career as opposed to deal orientated, and that elusive-to-define "connection" element.

In our phone call I felt really, really, really connected with each other – she was friendly, professional, informative, upfront and open, easy to talk to about anything but most importantly passionate about my work (and this gelled with the interest she had in my work back in August around the time she was getting married and had to pass on the project).

I certainly had that "good" feeling about her after our phone conversation, but if there'd been another agent I felt the same way about I was ready with Plan B - examining their agency and the services they had to offer.

Yes, reputation goes a long way but I looked at how they could help me long term as I developed my career as an author. What I liked about TKA was the "family/teamwork" impression I received about the agents and the agency, and it's something that they extend to their clients. All this was excellent, but as I said, the clincher for me was the phone call with Elaine, the way she "just got my work" and the connection I felt with her.

There are a few of things I've learned from this whole process - don't settle for "just any agent". Even if one, or six offers representation doesn't mean they're right for you. The temptation to jump at and sign with the first agent who offers you representation is almost overwhelming.

Only accept their offer if they’re the one that meets your needs based on the research you’ve done. Don't compromise on what you want in your agent and you do need to connect with them - you need someone who's as passionate about your work as you are. Secondly, while this process was painful in some ways, incredibly fast in others, and definitely exhausting, I wouldn't swap it or change how it all unfolded.

I hope sharing my personal experiences with you has given you some insights and maybe some ideas on how you’re going to tackle you “agent hunt”. Good luck and get researching! ☺


  1. Kylie,

    Congrats, again, on your great agent story!

    Your advice is fabulous, and in my experience, spot on. When it came down to choosing my agent, it was very similar...I'd done all of my research before querying, so when offers came in, I didn't have an option that wouldn't have fit me very well.

    Then, it came down to who I thought was the most enthusiastic/passionate about my work, and who I "clicked" with, even if, on paper, another agent may have seemed more of a fit. I can't tell you how invaluable that has been (which is hard for me to say, being that I am a 98% head person when it comes to making decisions), and how grateful I am that I listened to that piece of advice.

    Thanks again, for sharing, and may you and Elaine have a long, prosperous partnership!

  2. Hi Heather, thanks for dropping in.

    One of the hardest choices any writer will face is accepting or declining an agent's offer of representation, especially if it's your first offer after the hard yards of sending out query after query. The temptation to accept it, whether the agent "fits" or not is huge.

    There's so much angst and pressure you put on yourself when put in this situation that doing what's right for you sometimes gets lost.

    Thanks for sharing your experience. It may just help someone who reads this and is faced with such a decision.

  3. Kylie,
    what a fantastic post - I agree, it would be so easy to dive head-first into the first agent who wishes to represent. I'd probably be guilty of that one myself LOL!!
    Good luck with your agent Kylie, sounds like it will be a great partnership! =)

  4. Fabulous post, Kylie. It's hard to imagine refusing an offer from an agent but you've made a great case for why we should sometimes do the unthinkable. Once again, congratulations on your sale.

  5. Hi Mel! Thanks for your good wishes, I'm thinking Elaine & I will have a great partnership.

    Janni, it IS terribly hard to refuse an offer made by an agent. One of the most important things to remember is if you sign that there's an agency agreement and it has some sort of "out clause" eg. "This Agreement may be terminated by either party giving thirty (30) days written notice to the other party." or something like that.

    So if you do sign with an agent and you discover later you just don't fit then you have the option to end the partnership.