December 16th, 2006

A Pocket Full of Murder

What do I want from an agent?

Right now the full ms. of Knife is on its way to two agents, and while I'm waiting on their responses, I've been thinking about what specific qualities I'd like in an agent -- aside from the obvious ones like being reputable and qualified and knowing the ins and outs of the publishing business and having a good track record of sales, and generally being a decent sort of person.

jaylake's just written a helpful post on the writer-agent relationship, and I agree with a lot of what he says, though not all. As arcaedia points out in her response, not all agent-writer relationships begin the same way, and her personal experience as an agent is different from what jaylake suggests is the norm. jaylake also believes that agents ought to live in or around New York City, and although I used to worry that might be the case, I've read enough now to feel differently. Agents Erin Murphy and Kristin Nelson, for instance, have both remarked that most business between agents and editors is done over the phone, not at the mythical business lunches, and therefore there's no particular advantage to an agent being located in NYC as far as sales go. As long as they're willing to make occasional trips to New York in the line of duty, that usually covers things just fine.

So, I'm not going to worry too much about the fact that I've only met one of the two agents I've queried in person, nor that one of them is located thousands of miles away from NYC. I don't think either one of those things is going to make a big difference in the end.

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In other news, I have got my copy of First Draft in 30 Days and am eagerly perusing it. I have no idea whether the system will work for me, but I'm definitely interested in giving it a try when the New Year rolls around. Only with my schedule it's more likely to be First Draft in 60 to 90 Days, but the author of the book says that's just fine.

Also, in case there was any doubt that I am a masochist, I just sent my hook for Knife into Miss Snark's current Crapometer. I won't be showing up until #314, and she's only on about #50 at the moment, so it'll be a few days before I get her comments (and I think I can already anticipate half of them). But it's definitely worth skimming over the current Crapometer entries to see what makes a hook work and what doesn't.