Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Don't's and Do's of Finding an Agent!

The Don’t’s and Do’s of Finding an Agent!
By Brad R. Cook

This week on The Writers’ Lens we’ve been talking about finding an agent. About how to pitch, different types like the elevator pitche, log lines, and even conferences – but there are some important things to remember when trying to find an agent and I have a few of them listed below. They have all come from agent horror stories, tall tales told in bars at conferences, and Twitter. If you’re not following the agents on Twitter, then you’re missing out.

Here are a few things to avoid,

Don't pitch to an agent anywhere but your pitch session – not when they are checking into the hotel, going to the bathroom, trying to eat, or even riding on subway reading. You might leave an impression but it will be a negative one.
Do introduce yourself or strike up a conversation like you would anyone else – agents are people too. And if they ask about your book, do jump immediately into pitch mode!

Don't call an agent to pitch to them – yes, many list their phone numbers, and several I’m sure would be very nice if you have a question (directly related to them or their clients) – but don’t call them to pitch or to ask, “Do you represent my genre?”
Do follow all submission guidelines. They have websites for a reason, and all querying happens in one of three excepted ways – emails, snail mail, and face-to-face pitch sessions.

Don't head over to their office to drop off your manuscript – to most agents this is just creepy and you can understand why, its confrontational, “You’re gonna love my book, because I know where you are.” Never Go To Their Homes! You might think I’m joking but I heard the story from an agent – the man wanted to stop by and talk about his book – SUPER CREEPY!
Do form a friendship with your agent; just wait until you are invited before showing up.

Don't hand your manuscript to the agent in a pitch session – some people may want to leave their manuscript, samples, query’s, or business card with the agent, maybe they think the agent is away from home and needs something to read that night, but remember you’re one of about 30+ people they’re going to meet that day, maybe more. Not to mention, they have to take a plane back home, so space and weight are at a premium.
Do bring a sample of your work and keep it in front of you, many agents will pick it up and flip through as you’re pitching. Just make sure you take it with you and don’t hand it to them.

Don't send a nasty reply to the agent’s rejection – first it’s unprofessional, and these people need a lesson in manners. To be honest there are so many reasons for not doing this it could be its own post, but here are a few more. Usually, the agent has rejected the work, not the writer. It’s not personal, so don’t make it into something it wasn’t. Harsh criticism is their way of trying to help, letting the writer know they have more to do to make it perfect. Be happy, it was more than a form response. Also, most of the agents know each other and they talk not only to other agents, but also to editors and publishers, no one wants that kind of negative connotation when the publishing world is such a close knit community.
Do be nice, be professional, go to their workshops, read their client’s books, blog about the good advice they share, or spotlight them.

A good rule to live by: Treat people with respect, stop them only in those moments that are appropriate, but let them go to the bathroom in peace.

If you are interested in attending the Missouri Writers Guild Annual Conference you can register on their website at

and DO check out the conference’s blog’s interview with literary agent Sarah LaPolla of Curtis Brown LTD.

Good luck with your pitches!

Please feel free to leave your own Don't's and Do's in the comment section.


  1. Great advice, Brad.

    I would like to add one that I remind myself of before every pitch.

    DON'T be ultra-nervous.
    DO think positive thoughts.

  2. I can't believe people would just go to their houses like that. Creepy!