You do know there are some incredibly helpful agents you should be following on Twitter, right? Following now. Agents who tweet about the industry, post links to their blogs, offer helpful tips (on queries, writing, blogging, whatever), and generally do what they can to reach out to writers in an attempt to make the road to ‘publishdom’ less bumpy. Or to agentdom, if that’s a more immediate concern of yours.
There’s a goldmine out there, folks – and Twitter is but one way to get the inside info on things. Case in point: #askagent. #askagent is a Twitter chat, scheduled on a whim, that gives writers the opportunity to ask REAL AGENTS questions about the biz. Please note – there are absolutely no questions allowed about queries (so don’t go to hawk your own manuscript). You can (and should) research individual agents to find out their query and submission guidelines, as well as what genres they’re open to at the time you plan to submit. What you can ask are questions about anything else – what it’s like to work w/ an agent, their take on changes in the industry, views on the use of social media for writers….and just about anything else you can think of that an agent would know.
Last night, I asked if four months was too long to re-send a revised manuscript to an agent who offered to read it again after changes were made. I was worried I’d taken too long to work on the revision. Their replies suggested that wasn’t too long, and in fact – would show the agent I had taken the time to really work on my manuscript. Also, when I resubmit I should remind the agent I was invited to do so. In my mind, I thought waiting too long (which for me, is like a month) might cause the agent to lose interest. I never considered sending it back too soon would suggest my revision work had been….lax. So, good to know that sending the revised manuscript out this month is still a viable option.
The other great thing about the #askagent chat is that you get to interact with agents. You know, as if they are real people. Seriously, when I first started on this journey I felt so nervous by the prospect of interacting with agents. I wasn’t sure how to approach any in a less formal setting. Should I make jokes? Would offers of baked goods and/or liquor be well-received? Am I allowed to make direct eye contact, or will that only anger the royalty?
Ok – I’m kidding about those last few things. They agents, not queens and kings. And while you should NEVER send gifts to an agent until you are officially represented by said agent, they do like sugar as a general rule. But when I started, I was…well, kinda scared by ‘them’. I had this vision in my mind of the archetype agent – someone standing on a pedestal (made out of published books, of course) so high that if she looked down all she could see was some little dot running around, trying to scatter its way up the books (ahem, yes I’m the dot). Or a bookish sort (and really, I have no idea what that means) sitting at an oversized mahogany desk, looking over his glasses and saying something like ”what makes you think you can write?”
Where, oh where, did I get those ideas? Who knows? Certainly not from any agents I’ve actually met (or interacted with via blogs and twitter). All have been unfailingly kind, helpful and supportive. Most likely those images were conjured up by my over-active imagination (good for a writer) and insecurity (not good for a writer). But see that’s one of the problems new writers face – fear. And the only way to get over that fear (and ignorance, in my case) is to put yourself out there and interact with real, live agents. You can do that at conferences, via blogs and on twitter. Yes, you should be professional and courteous – but you can also be yourself (uh, unless your self is naturally rude and obnoxious. In that case, be someone else).
So, why don’t you check out #askagent to start – even if you don’t want to post a question, you can follow the chat and see what others have to say.
A few suggestions – some of the questions often asked cover information you can find by doing google searches, reading books, and/or reading agent blogs/submission guidelines. #askagent is not the place to ask how to query or to find out if an agent wants to read your manuscript on a zombie rockstar who falls in love with a wayward werewolf in a postapocalyptic world (and no, I’m not writing that book. Sorry – zombies creep me out and anything related to the end of the world as we know it makes me depressed, but I do like werewolves).
To attend the next #askagent chat, you can either do a Twitter search or start following the chat’s host @colleenlindsay In addition to agents, editors and other book pros attend the chat to answer your questions.