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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Overcoming the Fear Factor: Finding the Right Agent by DiAnn Mills

By DiAnn Mills

Overcoming the Fear Factor: Finding the Right Agent

Your story is in final form. In your opinion, it’s the best you’ve ever written, and you’re filled with confidence. The suggestions, edits, and marketing plan are in place. Your proposal reads like an NYT writer.

But you don’t have an agent.

An agent? Can't be that scary.
My agent, Janet K. Grant of Books and Such Literary Agency, says this about an agent. “Writers write books. Publishers publish them. But publishers have a big sea of writers to draw from, and someone needs to serve as your swim instructor, telling you who are the sharks and who are the dolphins, and helping you to determine which you want to swim with. That someone is your agent.” I don’t know about you, but swimming with sharks is not my idea of a career builder.

Sometimes agents terrify us. We think they are the one factor that will get us published, when the truth is a quality manuscript is your best advocate. 

 So what does an agent do for a writer?
Stand up! Sit down! Write! Write! Write!

1. Submit your writing project to the proper editor.
2. Follow-up with editors.
3. Negotiate a contract. This is where your agent is worth his/her weight in gold. We writers are creative and usually not comfortable in talking contract terms.
4. Update you with industry trends and changes.
5. Interpret and communicate royalty statements.
6. Be your best cheerleader for the life of your partnership.

7. Advise you in every facet of your writing career.

Your job is to submit a polished manuscript, properly edited, and in the requested format of the agent. Even if you’ve met the agent, make sure you have the correct spelling and address of the person.

And if you’re rejected, consider it redirection. Do your best to find out why the agent declined representation and make changes before submitting again.

Keep perfecting your craft.

Never stop learning.

Never give up on yourself.

Where do you find an agent? Listings are in The Writer’s Market Guide or The Christian Writer’s Market Guide. There you find their submission guidelines and what they are looking for. Stick to them. Sometimes a recommendation from another writer is helpful. But the best way to meet a potential agent is face-to-face. Attending conferences and workshops where agents are present puts you in the spotlight. Polish your pitch, practice, and present it to a perspective agent. It doesn’t end with a single meeting.

Where do I sign up for the T-shirt?
Tips for Finding the Right Agent
1.The right agent is highly recommended by writers and publishers.
2. The right agent is well respected in the industry.
3. The right agent represents your genre.
4. The right agent conducts career counseling and makes recommendations, sometimes tough ones.
5. The right agent reads every word of your manuscript.
6. The right agent is an amazing editor.
7. The right agent must love, not like, your manuscript.
8. The right agent attends major writing conferences and often leads workshops.

9. The right agent submits timely reports on the status of your manuscripts.
10. The right agent is a partner in your writing career, a prayer warrior,  an asset to your life.

Now what’s stopping you? 

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She currently has more than sixty books published. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. 
DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; the 2014 president of the Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope, & Love chapter; and a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and International Thriller Writers.  She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also a craftsman mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins
Christian Writers Guild. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. Visit her website at
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  1. Finding the right agent is so important! I've had 3. One went into ministry, one went into publishing, so when it came time for the 3rd, I really prayed about it. I mean I pulled a Gideon and threw out a fleece, but the Lord knew I was serious. And He showed up. Big time! My agent is fantastic! And she meets and excels at all 10 of your criteria. :)

    1. What a wonderful find when your agent exceeds yours expectations.

  2. My two oldest daughters have written 3 books together and have published them on Amazon Kindle, but they want to get them in book form. They are 16 and 14; how would they get an agent?

    1. My suggestion is to purchase a recent Writers Guide and go through the process of looking to see what agents represent and submitting. The best way is to attend a conference where a preferred agent is taking appointments. It's a process for worth it in the end.

  3. I have found it harder to find an agent than to get published. I have my first book coming out in November, but I'm still without an agent. Hopefully, when the book sells well, that will change.

  4. Thank you, DiAnn, for sharing this helpful and encouraging post on finding the best agent for us.

    #7 of the tips for finding the right agent is the one that jumped out at me. If an agents LOVES a manuscript then it's more likely it will be a long term partnership--like won't cut it for either side. I'll remember this when I start the query process and accept a no as a good thing.

    Blessings ~ Wendy ❀


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