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What Not To Do: An Agent’s Perspective
First of all, I realize that many writers today want to bypass agencies. There’s a lot of that going on lately in the self-publishing world, and I champion it. So why am I writing this advice piece?
Because once you succeed in selling and marketing your work, you may get dreamoffers. If so, you might reconsider and take a second look at what an agency can do for you that you cannot.
Are you an expert at dealing with contracts? Can you recognize all the little tricks of the trade? If so, stick to your guns. But remember the old adage attributed to Abe Lincoln:” A man who represents himself in court has a fool for a client.” The same might be said of a successful author who acts as his own agent. This is true only if you hit the big time.
In case you do decide to contact an agent at any time, I want to share a few thoughts with you.
Number one on my list of things never to do, is to address a query to 30 or 40 agents or editors at the same time. I’m talking about listing them in the header of your query. We usually toss those without even reading the subject line. Someone sent me one yesterday addressed to at least 50 other agents. I took a moment and tried to figure out what their reasoning might be. Did the writer think I would immediately jump on the material, worried someone would beat me out of a bestseller? Really?
I’m not foolish enough to think authors aren’t submitting to more than one agent or editor at a time. I certainly do, but I never list them so everyone knows. By the same reasoning, don’t ever, ever, send material to all the agents at one agency. We do talk to one another.
I recently received a query stating the author had done his homework and investigated dozens of agents and agencies. It boiled down to me being the perfect person to represent his masterpiece. (Yes, that’s what he called it.) Unfortunately for him, he addressed the query to Ms. Gallagher. Lesson: Be very careful before you press the send button.