Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ask O: How Do I Get an Agent? Part 1

Happy Wednesday, my writing friends,

Today I’m answering a question recently posted by a reader. How do I get an agent?

The question makes it sound like there could be a simple answer. Like, How can I get a glass of lemonade? Well, you just go over there, get a cup, pour it in…

Getting an agent isn’t quite so simple, but I’ll give you some of my thoughts on the subject.

1) The term “get an agent” makes the whole process sound a bit stark and impersonal. “Get” reminds me of getting my oil changed or getting my snack on. But, actually, if we’re going to use the word, it’s more like getting married—two people coming together toward a common purpose.

The writer says to the agent, “I like how you work. Will you believe in me enough to approach editors at publishing houses with my proposals?” The agent says, “I will.” And the author promises to respect the agent’s opinion, not call and e-mail too much, and do her part by creating amazing projects and spiffy proposals.

It’s a relationship , granted it’s a business relationship (don’t expect your agent to be your best friend), but remember it's based on mutual respect and trust. Don't only focus on what the agent can do for you, but how you can contribute to the happy union.

2) Patience. It took me ten years to find someone to represent me. If there’s one lesson I’ve learned over the years, it’s to be patient with the writing journey God has me on. (Well, I try to be patient.) Honestly, it took that ten years for me to become a good writer. Good enough to get published, good enough to deserve an agent (not that I don’t still have room for improvement!) With each rejection (from an agent or editor), I had to decide either to quit the whole thing (which I thought about sometimes) or hunker down and grow in excellence. Then, when it was God’s timing, a great agent came.

Tune in next week for three more of my observations on "getting an agent."

What thoughts do you have? How did you “get” an agent? I’d love to hear your stories.

And don’t forget to send me your writing questions either in the comments or at

Happy writing and God bless!



  1. Great topic. I've heard this question numerous times from fellow writers.

    It can be bewildering. You're told, "I like this. Are you agented?" or, "You're ready for an agent," and the question comes back: Okay, then how do I get one? I also like how the word "agent" has become a verb!

    You're right--it's a waiting game. We need to be patient. We want an agent of God's choosing and in His timing. Rather than fret or suffer anxiety, I love the unagented motto:

    The Lord is my Agent, I shall not want.


  2. Great post, Ocieanna. Hubby and I discuss pros and cons of agent representation, but I still haven't come to terms with this. Still thinking...

    "The Lord is my Agent, I shall not want." Love that, Dee!

  3. Wonderful topic to explore, Ocieanna. How did I gain representation by an agent? Wrote for four years, was turned down more times than a Holiday Inn bedspread by lots of publishers, got discouraged, quit and parted company with my then-agent. Through a set of circumstances that can only be described as a "God thing," entered a contest via the blog of an agent whom I'd met when she was an editor. Won the contest, she liked my writing, and representation followed. Simple, no? Not exactly.
    Moral--even if you quit, God may not be through with you.

    1. I totally relate! I "quit" too a few years ago, then God opened the door despite me. It's the best place to be because I can't help but give all the glory to Him.

  4. Thanks for sharing those thoughts, Ocieanna Fleiss.
    I'm wondering if there are times when you just start
    sending query's and by pass an agent? I'll grow if I
    wait on my prince charming agent for 10 years....just
    wondering about the other way to my readers heart. :)

    1. Thanks, Diane. That's a great question. Why do we need an agent anyway? Truth is, I was sending queries to publishers at the same time I was looking for an agent. I was rejected by both. So, either way, I had to wait. :)

      When I first started, I knew published authors who didn't have an agent. That seems absurd to me now. Everyone I know has an agent.

      That's not necessarily a good reason to seek one (everybody's doing it!). But here's a good reason: many (if not most) publishers won't take un-agented proposals anymore.

      But honestly, I would want an agent even if that weren't the case ... Why? Well, there are so many reasons, I can't list them all here.

      I think I'll write another blog about that. Check back in a couple weeks!

      Thanks again for your comment. God bless!


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