by Tamela Hancock Murray
Even in the tightest market, new opportunities develop. Not only can authors keep up with these opportunities by being well-connected themselves, but this is just one part of your career where partnering with a great agent is key.
Why? Because editors don’t always put out a call to every writers’ loop when they need proposals. Most don’t have time to become inundated with lots of proposals that won’t work. Instead, editors go to their friends, the agents. An experienced agent with a healthy list of talented authors will send editors appropriate proposals.
A well-connected agent with a stellar agency is likely to learn:
When there is hole in an editor’s schedule. Writers miss deadlines for many reasons. That’s when your agent can help you fill that hole. This can be the start, or continuation of, a fabulous relationship between you and a grateful editor.
About a new line. Agents are often the first outside of a publishing house to learn about a new line. This can help you be among the first authors to submit a proposal.
About unexpected needs. Editors will often let agents know they are expecting to need certain categories of books in the near future. This knowledge also gives you a chance to be an early contender.
That a house is changing direction. Publishers’ web sites and Amazon listings are informative but even the most up to date only reveal what has just happened. You want to look to the future because your book will be published in the future. That’s why, based on a web site, it may seem like a great idea to submit, say, a chick lit book to a house. But if that house has decided to move in the direction of WWII novels, your agent is more likely than any of your other business partners to know this. Your agent can keep you from submitting a fantastic proposal — fantastic for last year.
A key person is leaving. Just one key person’s departure may not only affect individual authors, but might even impact the future direction of a publishing house. Knowing personnel changes sooner rather than later will help you stay ahead in the game.
This doesn’t mean agents, even extraordinary ones, are the first to learn every bit of important news — but we are privy to quite a bit. And this does not mean that just because an author is among the first to submit work, that her work will be accepted over proposals arriving later. But being in the know early is still just one of many good reasons to partner with a great agent.
What are some other reasons you think it’s a good idea to partner with a wonderful agent?
Have you ever been able to submit a work early based on your agent’s inside knowledge?
Or do you disagree? Do you think authors are just as effective as agents in learning news early?