Free Friday: What Agents Want

Writing song of the day: “Make Me Wanna Die” by The Pretty Reckless on the Kickass Soundtrack (listen to it on our playlist!)

Hey, aces! Welcome to our first Free Friday! This is where we will pull up random stuff and try to make it as helpful as possible. What we’ve picked out for today’s post should do just that. When I got my subscription to the Writer magazine, they gave me a free Guide to Getting Published to go along with it. I wanted to share an article with you that discusses what agents are looking for, what turns them off, and what you can do to get that agent ASAP! The articles was written by Brian Hill and Dee Power and they surveyed 60 un-named agents with questions that all of us writers are dying to know the answer to. What you waiting for, read and take notes!

  • What is the most critical mistake writers make when approaching literary agents for representation?
  • Poor writing or poorly prepared contact (query) letter- since there are books like Making the Perfect Pitch by agent Katherine Sands, literary agents don’t understand why writers still can’t write a good query letter.
  • Inappropriate subject or genre for that agent- do your research and see what that agent is looking for!
  • Author hype, ego, arrogance- agents think that creative people have big egos; don’t oversell.
  • Ignorance about the publishing process- be able to articulate the market for your book. Ask yourself who is going to buy my book and why? And be ready to give this information to the agent.
  • Where do agents find clients?
  • 39 % referral from one of their other clients
  • 33% direct contact by the writer
  • 9 % referral from editors or publishers
  • 8% referral from another author no their clients
  • 5% referrals from other agents
  • 3 % attendance at writers conferences
  • 3 % other
  • What is the most common reason you decline to represent a writer?
  • 60 % poor writing
  • 17 % book was outside agent’s genre
  • 10 % agent’s client base was full
  • 8 % writer’s work and agent don’t click
  • 5 % other

  • What do agents look for in a potential author? A few agents spill their guts in the Writer magazine:

What does this teach us? Not to be ego-centric or poor writers, we need get in good with current clients of the agent that we want, speak up when you’re at a conference (you can be part of that
3 % that gets an agent from a writer’s conference), and to make sure you write a good query letter for an agent that is looking for that material. Okay, are you ready? Go find that agent…or you may want to tune into our blog on Thursday’s to get some more tips on the road to publication. Either way, remember these words that came straight from some 60 agents’ mouths!


8 thoughts on “Free Friday: What Agents Want

  1. Interesting…and really?! Only 33% of clients are from direct contact? I really thought it was more than that. It's good to know that they are looking for writers that appear to be long term. It's funny that the main reason for rejecting a writer is due to poor writing…have you read some of the crap out there?! lol

  2. I wasn't aware of these statistics. The 60% poor writing makes sense, though. I know that I sent out projects in my early writing days when I really wasn't ready to. Thanks for sharing.

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