Today’s guest blogger is Jean Jenkins, a co-founder of the SCWC, consultant to writers and freelance editor with over 25 years of editorial expertise placing clients with major publishers in both the U.S. and abroad.
“The hardest part is the individual meetings,” an agent once told me.
Turns out agents are as nervous as you are. They want to be honest and have you like them. “But imagine what it’s like when a stranger sits down at your table, scared to death, eyes as big as headlights, and just stares as if you’re going to make all their dreams come true.”
Here are some tips.
Remember, the agent has read your submission. Sometimes writers spend their allotted time TELLING the agent their whole story then the writer has nothing to take away.
Be relaxed and pleasant. The agent’s not an alien; they’re hard-working professionals hoping to find writers to work with. Give them your name and perhaps remind them in one sentence what your story is about. When they talk about your characters and your pages, LISTEN. Take notes—some will allow recording, but ask first. Don’t argue and don’t explain. They’re reacting to what’s in your pages and that’s as it should be.
When they ask if you have questions, have one or two ready. If you’ve been actively listening, you’ll have questions.
Be honest. If they’re interested in seeing more, most expect to see your pages in about 6 weeks. If you’ll need more than 6 weeks to get your work in shape, let them know. Ask if you can contact them when the book is done.
When your time is up, thank them, and make an unrushed goodbye. Remember, this is a business meeting even though the conference is fun and informal. Any agent will appreciate being approached at that level, and sometimes good people skills add points to your story.