Last week I highlighted some things that tend to annoy a literary agent. Let’s flip that around and reflect on a few things that get our attention.
Another drum roll please:
1. Follow the guidelines on an agency’s website. (Those are there for a reason. It helps sift, at one level, those who are wanting to be professionals and those who aren’t. Note they are “guidelines,” not “rules.” Every agency has them, and they are not always the same.)
2. Respect an agent’s time and the process. (Imagine fifty people lined up outside your door, each week, wanting your opinion on their work. Then, if you can’t get to them, fifty more get in line. After a few weeks, there are hundreds, all clamoring for attention.)
3. Do your best work. (We recognize good writing immediately. We can also see potential if what we have isn’t quite there yet. But slap-dash material is apparent even faster.)
4. Do your best to understand the industry and its nuances. (This can be done by reading various blogs, going to conferences, and broadening your understanding of the industry. Telling us that your book should be published by Zondervan because many titles in your personal library are from Zondervan isn’t a good idea.)
5. Understand what platform is and is not. Show us and a potential publisher that you want others to find and buy your ideas.
6. Remind me if we’ve met. It is always nice to have some connection, even if fleeting. You might be surprised by what we remember, even years later. (Yes, I still remember you, Xochitl, when you sat at the wrong table at the conference.)
7. Keep me reading. I may like the idea, but it is your writing that must keep me reading. It is what keeps an agent looking for the next one.
8. Be prepared with questions if we contact you. We don’t mind if you ask newbie questions. It shows interest, not ignorance.
There could be many more items, but I think you get the gist of the list. (See what I did there?)