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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Oh, what do you see in the sea my friend?

Still Fishing for an Agent?

Kitty Griffin & Natalie Lakosil

When I write to her I call her, Dear Agent, and really there is something nice about having someone on your side.

Writing is a solitary, sometimes lonely ab-session (I say ab-session, not obsession because for me, and for many of my writer friends, stories are something that need to be drained out of us. We become infected with characters and their predicaments and what can a writer do but write, or drain out the story?)

I really wasn't looking for an agent when I found Natalie. I'd successfully negotiated a deal for a book and felt fairly comfortable with life.

But a friend and I decided to go to the New Jersey SCBWI HUGE BIG GIANT conference in Princeton and


What a conference!
Seriously, there were dozens and dozens of agents and editors 


we were all trapped in a hotel together! They couldn't run from us.

But I'd submitted a story that drained serious blood from me. A project years in the making and I knew (I know) it's dark, it's odd, but I submitted my pages and was paired up with this lovely young woman.

And she really liked my writing.

She wasn't just patting me on the head and saying, "There, there, crazy writer." No. We talked. We clicked.

I gave her a copy of my latest book. I followed up with a thank you card. 
And when she made an offer to represent---

I took it (although, being the very cautious person I've become, I had Attorney Mary Flower look things over. If you ever need someone who knows kids books and contracts, she's very good and she's in NYC)

So we signed. And now that it's summer and Route 19 writers are off and about the world, one to Ireland, one to Italy...Natalie agreed to do a post about getting an agent.

(See, isn't she lovely?)


Starting your agent hunt? 

This is the post for you!

There are a lot of ways to find and connect with the perfect agent. And by perfect agent, I don't just mean agent-at-the-biggest-agency-who-will-make-you-an-instant-bestseller-perfect agent.

If that's what you're aiming for, throw it out the window now, please.

The perfect agent for you is one that will serve your career best. That means that the perfect agent fits your ideal communication style, has the contacts and experience (has negotiated contracts or the agency has negotiated contracts) in and for the genre you write (both directly, and indirectly for subsidiary rights), understands what to do with and help guide and direct your vision (are you hybrid? You better pick an agent who knows what that means, and understands digital and self-publishing!), has the time to dedicate to you both editorially and for career development (ok, and yes, for some hand-holding), and will fight for you. Oh, and loves your work. I guess that's important too (kidding - it is).

So how do you find this Perfect Agent?

Start with a list. Check out these websites to begin pulling in names to submit to:


You can also take a look at the acknowledgements page of similar books to yours - authors will often mention their agent - or pick up a copy of JEFF HERMAN'S GUIDE TO PUBLISHERS, EDITORS AND LITERARY AGENTS, or SCBWI's THE BOOK (if you're a member - and if you're writing for children, you should be a member!)

After you have your list, RESEARCH.

Cyber-stalk them on Twitter. On blogs. On their agency websites. Read interviews about them. Google their name and see if any conference bios pop up - anything that will help you figure out current tastes...and if they meet YOUR criteria (see above). Don't just rely on the sites above to tell you what they're looking for - tastes change, and "historical fiction" may really mean "only post-1850's historical fiction." 

After you research, NETWORK.

Start following the agent on Twitter. On Pinterest. On Google+. Comment on blog posts. Say hello at a conference. I guarantee this is important - because if I get a query from someone who just says "I follow your blog" vs. "I follow you on Twitter, and you know me as @clevertwittername, and we talked about cats who wear hats" I pay a LOT more attention to @clevertwittername. Even the "I follow your blog" submission gets more attention than no mention of why I was chosen to submit to at all!

Finally: submit! As comprehensive as any website or book tries to be, they're always a little outdated. Make sure to verify current submission guidelines for each person on your list before you submit.

It'll help to have The Perfect Book to send this Perfect Agent. But hey, that's for a different post!

Bio: Natalie Lakosil is an agent with the Bradford Literary Agency. 
Follow her on Twitter @Natalie_Lakosil
 or read more about her on her blog www.adventuresinagentland.com.

Natalie M. LakosilBradford Literary Agency
5694 Mission Center Rd. #347
San Diego, CA 92108

1 comment:

  1. Natalie's the best! I remember being astounded when I stopped writing for a few years, then came back to it. There was no such thing as social media when I'd been writing before, although some agents and editors had websites. I remember having to send off for agents' and editors' submission guidelines with an SASE! Writers have all the information they need at their fingertips. Imagine the 70s and 80s, when writers had to look up the publisher's address on the inside of a book and blindly send a query, hoping it made its way to the right person!