When I first started to query agents with that (horrible) first edition of Devil’s Blood, I threw my (equally horrible) query letter at any agent that represented fantasy and some that simply didn’t say that they didn’t want fantasy.
In my mind, finding an agent = getting a huge publishing deal = fans, fortune, and a bathtub of gold coins.
Anyone want to point out my mistakes? Don’t worry, you don’t have to. We’d be here all day.
This past weekend, while sending out a handful of query letters for my new fantasy series, I realized just how much I’d grown as a writer and as a professional since that first Devil’s Blood… let’s call it a “snafu.”
First, I found myself connecting with some agents more than others. I read bios, I read the “about me” pages. I looked at recent sales, favorite books, favorite movies – anything they had. I wanted to know about these agents, because they aren’t a one-way road into fame and fortune – they are business partners. Friends. I am asking them to aid me in my pursuit of business – their time and money for me. I want to know that I’m asking that of someone I think I’d get along with and who would share the same passion for my writing as me.
I found myself drawn to agencies that boasted about their bestselling past sales, and I got this giddy feeling when I found agencies who boasted about books that I had read and enjoyed. When I saw the cover of Queen of Shadows, I got that giddy-weightless tingle in my stomach. Some call that feeling “the good willies.”
Second, I found myself pushing away from certain agencies. Some had really bad covers on their past sales, others lacked any sort of agent information, others had terrible websites. One agency had a list of books that looked like a self-published author’s “please buy me” list. Some just oozed “unprofessional.” Others buzzed with snobbishness and high-nose arrogance. Some agents came across as rude, as if they didn’t want to be queried at all.
One agent had on her site that she didn’t count self-published titles as publications. (She didn’t say it as nicely as that. I think her words were more along the lines of “I don’t care about your self-published books.”)
I didn’t sent her a query.
I’ve become more selective in my agent searching, as all authors should be. I want someone who will care for and nurture and guide my career – not seek only to suck the gold from my pockets. Sure, agents are in it for the money. That’s how they pay their rent and buy their light bulbs.
I want an agent who genuinely loves my projects, who will want to see my career flourish and grow and grin big with pride when I list their name in my acknowledgements.
Which is why finding an agent is so hard. They’re looking for the same thing.
Someone, either an agent or an author, once compared finding an agent to finding a spouse. Given my love life, I’ll be self-publishing for the rest of my life. (Jokes!)