Posted On December 12, 2014 by Print This Post

Finding an Agent with Diana Cosby

When I sent out the call for visiting professors, I jumped at the chance to have the amazing Diana Cosby here with us.  She agreed to tell us all her secrets about choosing the right agent for you and your career. Welcome Diana! 

Signing with An Agent, What To Consider

In today’s competitive writing market, many authors are seeking an agent, and with good reason. Most major publishing housesDiana Cosby accept agent-only submissions, which nearly closes the door to unagented work. In addition, contracts are written to favor the publishing houses. A good agent not only deciphers the legal jargon, but negotiates a solid publishing contract for an author’s book(s) that increases their royalties as well as other benefits. Before you dive onto the search for an agent, here are some tips to consider:

-Your type of agent, would they be hands-on or strictly selling your work? What type of writer are you? It’s important to know if you want an agent who will brainstorm with you or an agent who receives your work and markets it without intervention. When you’re researching an agent or meeting with them in an interview, ask how in-depth they work with an author.

-Do want an agent for a certain category of book or for all of your work? Some agents will prefer to market a certain category of novels while others will want to represent all that you write.

-Is the agent you’re targeting respected in the industry? An important fact to consider when searching for an agent is to find out if the agent/agency is reputable. In addition to asking other writers, a good place to begin checking out an agent/agency’s reputation is:

Predators & Editors:

http://www.anotherealm.com/prededitors/

-Meet your agent. If possible, I encourage authors to meet with agents they are seriously considering to represent them. We learn a tremendous amount about a person by meeting them face-to-face. Often, within the first few seconds, we know if we click, or, if there’s something about the other person that would drive us nuts to work with them. Hey, we’re human, it happens. It’s better to learn that you and a potential agent don’t click before you spend your time and $ submitting to them, and before they spend their time reading your work.

-Agent interviews. In the past, when I met with an agent, I’d already done my homework. I knew what type of author the agent represented, what lines they tended to target with submissions, and anything else I could find out about them. Since these were professional meetings, I ensured I did my homework so neither of us was wasting the other’s time.

-The agent is a representative of you. Food for thought. Regardless of where your agent works and lives, once you sign with them, they represent you. With each agent I considered, I did my homework and considered them within the context of professional situations. Were these people I would want representing me? Did their mannerisms turn off editors?

-Communication. It’s essential that you have mutual respect with your agent, and that you’re comfortable talking with your agent, sharing not only your story ideas, but those of your writing goals and career moves. If you disagree with an agent’s marketing strategy or anything else, you need to be able, in a professional way, to express that. What good is having an agent who you don’t dare upset or can’t talk to?

-A bad agent is worse than no agent. As anxious as you are to sign with an agent, having a bad agent-a person who isn’t submitting your work, an agent who isn’t fighting for super deals on your behalf, or an agent who doesn’t follow-up with editors – is worse than having no agent at all. Your manuscript – work that’s taken you months, if not years to write – is tied up with this agency. Depending on your contract, it could take a very long while, if ever, to remove a non-effective agent from a specific manuscript. This is where the research comes in again. Do everything you can prior to signing a contract to assure yourself that your agent will work for you, personally and professionally.

-Parting ways with your agent. At times in our careers, things happen where we decide to part with an agent. Before you sign with an agent, read and understand what you are agreeing to, and know the procedures necessary if ever you decide to break from that agent/agency.

-Never settle. As authors, we work too hard in writing our novels to ever settle. I don’t care how tough the market is, how fierce the competition, wait, do your homework and don’t sign with an agent until you’re over the moon about them and they are over the moon about you. You want an agent who believes in you 110%. Their excitement, enthusiasm for your work comes through as talk about your stories to their colleagues and as they pitch your novel to numerous editors. It’s this excitement, this belief in you that will have your agent working overtime to help guide you to your success.

My sincere best to each and every one of you as you continue forward in your writing careers. Happy Holidays, and may your New Year be the best yet!

***

What did you discover on your agent search? Share with the class!

On Monday, Donna Cummings tells us how to outsmart our brain.

***

Bio:

An Oath Taken CoverA retired Navy Chief, Diana Cosby is an international bestselling author of Scottish medieval romantic suspense. Her award-winning MacGruder Brother books are available in five languages. Diana has spoken at the Library of Congress, Lady Jane’s Salon in NYC, and appeared in Woman’s Day, on USA Today’s romance blog, “Happy Ever After,” MSN.com, Atlantic County Women Magazine, and Texoma Living Magazine.

After her career in the Navy, Diana dove into her passion – writing romance novels. With 34 moves behind her, she was anxious to create characters who reflected the amazing cultures and people she’s met throughout the world.  With the release of her 6th book in the bestselling MacGruder Brothers series, she’s now preparing for the release of the 1st book in her new Scottish medieval The Oath trilogy, “An Oath Taken,” which will be available on December 8th, 2014. In addition, she’s excited about the upcoming release of The MacGruder Brothers e-Boxed Set on February 24, 2015!

Diana looks forward to the years of writing ahead and meeting the amazing people who will share this journey.

www.dianacosby.com

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19 Responses to “Finding an Agent with Diana Cosby”

  1. Hi Diana,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on agents. I’ll keep these tips in mind.

    I hope you have a blessed Christmas.

    Posted by Jackie Layton | December 12, 2014, 8:25 am
    • Hi Jackie,
      Thank you so much for stopping by, and if anything I said helps, that’s wonderful. I encourage authors to do their research before submitting to an agent. Take care, and I hope your Christmas is filled with friendship, laughter, and blessings!
      Sincerely,

      Diana Cosby

      Posted by Diana Cosby | December 12, 2014, 1:26 pm
  2. Thanks for the excellent tips, Diana! In a lot of ways, it seems like finding an agent can be trickier than finding a publisher. I have heard horror stories as well as stories of awesome agents who really helped shape and build careers. I bookmarked this for future reference.

    That’s quite an impressive bio, by the way! 🙂

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | December 12, 2014, 11:35 am
    • Hi Becke,
      I appreciate your stopping by. I’m so glad that you found my comments helpful.

      Finding a good agent as well as one who is the right fit for you is a challenge. But, if you want to target large publishing houses, it’s a necessary step toward a successful career. When an agent loves an author’s work, their enthusiasm for the author’s stories will come through loud and clear when they pitch them to editors.
      Another way to find potential agents is to go to a book store to shelves of novels similar to what you write. Open up the acknowledgement page of each and see if the author mentions their agent. If so, this agent represents the type of books you write, and is person to do your homework on in your agent search.
      Again, thanks for stopping by, and please let me know if you have any other questions. Thank you on your kind comment on my bio. I’ve been blessed with many amazing opportunities, and I’m thankful to add, an agent who believes in me. 🙂

      *Note: Your name is familiar Have we met at a conference or workshop
      I hope you have a wonderful holiday season! *Hugs*

      Diana Cosby

      Posted by Diana Cosby | December 12, 2014, 1:38 pm
  3. Robin,
    My sincere thanks for having me at Romance University today as a guest to talk about finding an agent. An honor. I sincerely hope that those attending Romance University will find my comments helpful. Take care, and I hope you have a fabulous holiday season!
    Sincerely,

    Diana Cosby

    Posted by Diana Cosby | December 12, 2014, 1:42 pm
  4. Hi Diana,

    Good points! Having good chemistry with your agent and finding one who can think outside the box are big pluses, too.

    Can you share your research process for an agent?

    Thanks for blogging with us today.

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | December 12, 2014, 6:35 pm
    • Hi Diana,

      ~Hi Jennifer, thank you so much for stopping by.

      Good points! Having good chemistry with your agent and finding one who can think outside the box are big pluses, too.

      ~Good chemistry with your agent and finding one who can think out of the box are big pluses. It’s like when you’re looking for a critique partner. You want to find someone that you like, respect and can trust, because in the future you’re going to share pieces of your heart and your dreams. The agent/writer relationship becomes personal, how can it not?

      Can you share your research process for an agent?

      ~Before you contact any agent/agency, I believe it’s important to first define what ‘you’ are looking for in an agent:
      -Do you want an agent who will brainstorm with you or helps edit your story?
      -Are you looking for an agent who handles only the sales end, answers questions about the publishing end, but for the most part leaves you on your own to write?
      -There’s many more variables, but the important thing is to write down the points important to you, then prioritize them.
      -Ensure that the agent/agency is reputable. Check RWA, Authors Guild, Novelists Inc. (NINC), or other reliable writing sources.
      -When you find agents you’re considering, e-mail their authors and ask how they like their agent? Ask if their agent is timely in their reply’s, and other questions you’d like to know. I’m not guaranteeing that you’ll always get a response, but at times you do.

      In addition, you can search on-line for questions to ask an agent, plus ask in a chapter loop, and write down your own. I saw that Writer’s Digest has an article on, “10 Questions to ask an agent before you sign.” Don’t be afraid to ask agents the tough questions. First, this is a business arrangement. If an agent is upset over my questions, I’d sure like to know ‘prior’ to signing with them that we have issues. You want an agent that you can talk to and be frank with. It’s hard enough writing, then later marketing once your book comes out, without having to try to contact an agent who won’t answer your calls or e’s.

      When I spoke to agents, I clearly defined to them what I was looking for. I knew I wanted a long-term agent, and I told my agents that I interviewed that fact. One of my questions. “Are you an agent who is in for the long haul? After pitching four books in a row without a sale, will you terminate representing me?” My point here is that it’s essential to have an agent who you can talk with. If the agent understands your concerns, address the point, responds to your questions in a satisfactory manner, use that information to weigh your final decision.

      Another thing that I told agents who I was serious about, “If after you read my story you don’t think, ‘Wow, I have to have this author on my client list,’ and run to the phone to call me and share that you want me to sign with your agency, please don’t call.” My reason, I work too hard not to have an agent who loves my work and believes in me 110%. Writing is tough, selling is a hard, and marketing is yet another major challenge. The last thing I was an agent who was luke warm about my writing. No thanks, I work too hard to settle. Period. And if the agent is luke warm on my writing, I can only imagine the lack luster pitch they’ll give to an editor. No thanks. I want an agent who believes in me, or I’ll go it alone.

      Thanks for blogging with us today.

      ~A sincere pleasure to be here today. If anything I shared helps, that’s what it’s all about. Take care, and I hope you have a wonderful holiday season, and I wish you the very best!
      Sincerely,

      Diana Cosby

      Posted by Diana Cosby | December 13, 2014, 4:54 am
  5. Hi Diana!

    Great checklist….I’ve heard horror stories about agents…it always makes me worry. OTOH, once you find a good one, they can make your career!

    Thanks for posting with us today!

    carrie

    Posted by Carrie Spencer | December 12, 2014, 10:55 pm
    • Hi Diana!

      ~Hi Carrie, thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and post. 🙂

      Great checklist….I’ve heard horror stories about agents…it always makes me worry. OTOH, once you find a good one, they can make your career!

      ~Thanks, if anything helps, that’s great. A key is to do your homework up front on what you want, and then do your research on agents that you’re considering. It’s your career, and your decision who you sign with. My advice, take your time and choose wisely.

      Thanks for posting with us today!

      ~I appreciate your having me at Romance University. Take care, I hope you have a wonderful holiday season, and I wish you the best!
      Sincerely,

      Diana Cosby

      Posted by Diana Cosby | December 13, 2014, 5:09 am
  6. Great article Diana! I agree with everything you said. Especially about knowing yourself and what you’ll need from them to help you succeed.

    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    Posted by P.A. DePaul | December 13, 2014, 8:49 am
    • Hi P.A.,
      My sincere thanks for stopping by, and thank you for your kind words. I enjoyed your article on writing romantic suspense. ^5 Excellent insight!

      It’s imperative to define what you’re looking for in an agent before you start the research/query process. Doing your homework up front will save you a lot of issues later on.
      Take care and please know that I’m so proud of you, and I wish you every success! Have a wonderful holiday, and may your New Year be the best yet!
      Sincerely,

      Diana Cosby

      Posted by Diana Cosby | December 13, 2014, 11:25 am
  7. That’s a great list. The only thing I might add is to ask for the names of some of the prospective agent’s clients. I’d email them to make sure the agent responded to their needs in a timely manner. There’s nothing worse than staring into a black hole waiting to hear back from your agent.

    Thanks for sharing, Diana!

    Maggie

    Posted by Maggie Toussaint | December 13, 2014, 4:17 pm
    • Maggie,
      It’s always wonderful to see you. I know how crazy busy you are, and I thank you for taking time out to stop by. I totally agree on ensuring that a perspective agent will be timely in keeping in contact with you. I appreciate your sharing your agent tip.
      I’m so proud of you, and I wish you continued success! Have a wonderful Christmas! *Hugs*
      Sincerely,

      Diana Cosby

      Posted by Diana Cosby | December 16, 2014, 12:47 am
  8. Robin,
    My sincere thanks for having me on as a guest at Romance University. Writing and publishing is a challenge, and there are so many professional decisions to make when deciding to take the book of your heart and step into the business world of selling your novel. Finding a good, reliable agent who believes in you is one of the many challenges. Like every step in your writing career, my advice is to take the time to do your research, then make the best decision for you.
    A huge thanks to everyone who stopped by. If you have more questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. If I see any future question posts, I’ll return to answer them.
    Take care, believe in yourself, and dare to go after your dreams. I believe in you! I wish each of you a wonderful holiday season, and may your New Year be the best yet!
    Sincerely,

    Diana Cosby

    Posted by Diana Cosby | December 16, 2014, 12:53 am
  9. Thanks, a good piece!

    Posted by Susan Feerman | July 11, 2016, 8:13 am

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