Why You Should Have An Agent And How To Get One

If you’ve been following my blog for the last few weeks, you’ll know I attended the KidLitVic writers conference.

There, I gleaned many a tip on the publishing industry, including the following about snagging an agent.

Alex Adsett from Alex Adsett Publishing Services and Jacinta Di Mase from Jacinta Di Mase Management provided their expertize for this panel and let all the agent-less writers know exactly what an agent does and how to get one.

Why You Should Have An Agent

If you can get an agent (and realistically that’s a big IF), they will provide writers with the following benefits:

  • A chance to frog-leap the slush pile.
  • Deliver to publishers a book they know has been vetted (which works in your favor).
  • Provide another set of eyes to ensure your MS has what it needs to be a structurally sound and polished.
  • Expert advice about who is the right publisher for you and your MS.
  • They’ll get you the best deal possible.
  • Will talk you down off any impostor-syndrome induced ledges.
  • Will take care of business so your only worry is about the writing.
  • Will look after your overall career (and they’re willing to be in it for the long haul).

Like a publisher, an agent needs to have a personal connection with the MS. They could be repping a book for years before finding the right publisher fit, so they have to love it as much as you do.

How To Get An Agent

When it comes to snagging one of these unicorns, here’s what can help…

  • Read the books they represent.
  • Research them like you would a publisher.
  • Meet them at conferences (which is also a good way to score an invitation from them to query if they’re closed to submissions).
  • Listen to any changes they may ask you to make (it also tells them if you can work together).
  • Be willing to be proactive with your career and go to bookstores and writing conferences/festivals.
  • Be professional during queries, interactions, and on social media (they will look you up if they’re interested in you).
  • Be willing to work.
  • Follow the guidelines for their submission process.
  • Don’t query them if they’re closed.

Agents also won’t charge to read your MS or bill you with exit fees if you leave before they’ve done anything for you. If you come across an agent who wants anything other than the standard 15 percent (which can sometimes be 10 or 20 percent) on deals they make, find a different agent.

They like writers to be proactive with their careers, but they also know what introverted little souls we are. They won’t make you do anything you don’t want to do. Just understand such a stance may result in a less sustainable career.

When querying, you can submit to multiple agents at once. The etiquette is to let them know it’s a multiple submission and if you get an offer or a request for a full from another agent. It might spur them into looking at your MS faster as they also suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out).

As for those multi-genre authors who like to dabble in a bit of everything, you can do it, but it makes it harder for an agent to sell you.

If you’ve got any other tips about agents, or have been lucky enough to get yourself one, let us other agent-less writers know about it in the comments.

— K.M. Allan

You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

47 thoughts on “Why You Should Have An Agent And How To Get One

  1. So many good tips on this post. There is some luck involved but I’ve always believed we create our own luck. If a writer works hard enough, is good enough and will do what it takes to succeed they will be signed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Why You Should Have An Agent And How To Get One | wordrefiner

  3. I now have an agent and I couldn’t agree more with how valuable that relationship is. My agent is my advocate, my champion, and my coach. And she’s a fabulous person. I have hit the jackpot.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for the great tips! I’m self-publishing my first small series, but am hoping to find a traditional publisher or agent for other works going forward. This helped put things in perspective a bit.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’d love to have an agent. The last time I researched agents one of them had a series of videos. One video said not to bother them if you didn’t have a platform of at least 400. I asked my friend Vickie, “What is a platform?” She introduced me to the world of blogging. I’ve exceeded that number but, as of yet, haven’t looked for an agent. Maybe it’s time to try again.

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  6. Pingback: Why You Should Have An Agent And How To Get One | theshammuramat

  7. I haven’t tried to get an agent since the last one told me: When you sell your book, get back to me. So, I haven’t thought about trying again until now when it occurs to me that I could show an agent the novels I’m currently sitting on–I’ve been selling and publishing them one at a time…

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    1. It depends on the agent. That’s what the two agents at this specific panel suggested, but that could just be their preference. Sometimes the submission guidelines for an agent will say if and when they want to be contacted regarding other agent requests on your submission, so make sure to check them 😊.


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