How do Writers FIND a Agent?

I was grappling with my greatest dilemma … Do I really need an agent? … Do I know enough about the publishing industry to go it alone? … Is it worth paying an agent a percentage of my contract?…  Can an agent help my Publishing career?

The pros and cons swum round my writer’s brain … I needed expert advice from someone in the ‘know’.

0068_RHABurnBrightFULL07.inddSo I interviewed Marianne de Pierres, award-winning Brisbane crime, science fiction and fantasy novel  author. Her latest book, YA urban fantasy novel BURN BRIGHT is a huge success. I wanted to know how an agent helped Marianne.

1. What does your agent do for you?

My agent wears many caps; legal advisor, career advisor, career mentor, confidant, friend and voice of reason. She raises my contracts and makes sure I understand them.

2. What are the advantages of having an agent?

Aside from the fact that an agent saves you from many onerous duties i.e. contract negotiation –  two heads are generally better than one when planning a career. It’s important to have another, experienced voice that you can discuss issues with and plan strategies. A good agent will have a sound relationship with major publishers, and know who your manuscript will best fit.

Marianne de Pierres

Marianne de Pierres

3. How do you secure an agent?

The Australian Writer’s Marketplace lists all Australian agents. That is the best place to start. When you query an agent, send the best possible sample you can (no grammatical errors, sloppy presentation etc). Read their guidelines and be sure that yours is the kind of work they will be interested in. Follow up with a polite email or phone call.
If that fails, start the process again with another agent.  Don’t give up!

*Thank you Marianne for revealing how an agent has worked for you AND sharing your secrets in unearthing an agent*

Over the past months, I developed my manuscripts  to be the very BEST they could possibly be, through critiquing and professional editing … They  were ready!

What’s MY decision?

Today I woke early fueled with a new determination to find an agent. With renewed inspiration and confidence, I amped my KICK-ASS query letter, synopsis and my first chapters of ME AND HER: a Memoir of Madness to the max, injecting as much passion as I could.  With my heart bursting with courage, I kissed the computer screen and pressed SEND.

It’s now reached the INBOX of my preferred Dream Agent.

♥ Dear Dream Agent … Please, oh please say YES and represent me and my five books.

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20 comments to How do Writers FIND a Agent?

  • Beth

    Fabulous interview, Karen. Love all the agent tips. Sending positive vibes to that Dream Agent of yours !

  • Thanks Beth, Marianne is an inspirational Author especially for those trying to break into the publishing world :))

  • Joanna Gaudry

    I think that getting a literary agent would definitely help your chances of getting published, Karen. Good luck in trying to get one to sign you up.
    Joanna :))

  • Hi Joanna, Yes the time is right for seeking and securing an Agent. I’m not taking this decision lightly… researching the most compatible agents and perfecting the Query letter and submission package

  • Or you can simply let them come to you, like so many top selling self/indie published authors have done 🙂 Selling books is part of building your platform.

    MX Publishing recently said “If you won’t have blog/platform, don’t bother sending us your manuscript” Not the first time I’ve heard a publisher say this. It also includes having an already proven market readership and book sales. 4 Ingredients anyone?

    It’s simple risk management and by already having sold books, built evidence of a readership, this minimizes the risk of considering you to potential agents and publishers. You see what’s happening here in the marketplace now?

    At the end of the day if your book is good, readers don’t care where it was published and if so-so’s best friend liked it, that’s good enough. People are mostly buying online now. If your selling books consistently, publishers will see you as less risk and a potential earning asset for them. Recent trends now indicate the last 12 months mid-high tier self/indie pubbers are making just as much revenue than mid-high tier trade pubbers.

    The question is then, once your at this point why would you cut your own throat by signing on someone else’s bottom line?

    I think everyone will have a good chuckle at this, like I did.

    Either way, gotta keep up the hustle!

  • Hi Anthony,
    I hear what you saying about the self-publishing revolution.
    But for me, I’ll be following the mainstream publishing route at the moment. Several publishers have requested and are considering my books. I look at an agent as someone who can negotiate the very best deal for me. And I do have a strong Authors Platform and those publishers know that.
    I embrace the new book technology and want to see my books sold on online bookshops and in eBook format.
    JK Rowling took the mainstream publishing route before she set up her own eBook publishing company :))

  • Great interview Karen 🙂
    I had a publishing contract *before* signing wth an agent and as I don’t have a legal degree I had no idea what was what in a 10 page long contract.Lol! It was such a releif to me having an agent! Plus she got me an even better contract in the end 🙂
    Anthony has really important points there too and I do believe the whole industry is changing as such a pace and in so many ways, it’s why I am bringing out my second book straight to eformat first!
    Excellent post and informaton! Rebecca xx

  • Thanks Rebecca, for sharing your publishing and agenting journey. Yes, I agree Anthony has very valid arguments and experience.
    I’m very open-ended about my publishing future. If the agent avenue doesn’t work out, I know an excellent contract lawyer in Brisbane.
    Same thing about publishers. Mainstream or self-publish … I’m determined to get my books out there :))

  • Thanks for the news! I know it will open some eyes.

  • Rowling published in a COMPLETELY different time, completely different economic and audience climate.

    Good move with the eBook Rebecca. Both publishing avenues have their pros and cons. What I find, is most writers and emerging authors still don’t realise that self/indie pubbing can play as the big tool to attracting the Trade offer.

    It’s not a matter of definitively choosing one over the other. I’m saying writers/authors are best to avoid the possibility beating themselves up over the coming years trying for something they can get another way along with the benefits that come with it in the meantime 🙂
    One thing is for sure, it’s an exciting time for writers and authors.
    Great discussion ladies. Simply commenting and voicing here is evidence you both have the hustle it takes to not just publish, but find success in an author career selling books.

  • Hi Ellyn, Thanks for dropping by. Glad you found the interview informative :))

  • Hi Anthony, Thanks for dropping by twice within two days. I agree with what you’re saying and I’m trying to be as flexible as I can making those publishing decisions. If my memoir is not signed in the next six months, I will definitely go the indie pubbing route :))

  • Great interview with great perspective… I’ve decided to run solo.. while searching for an agent.

  • Thanks Michelle, Just wanted to express the pros and cons of having an agent. Marianne has a wealth of experience in that field :)) Good luck with your endeavours and decisions :))

  • Well done Karen. I hope you get your dream agent. 5 books? Have you just finished another? Well done too on securing the interview with Marianne. That’s gold. I hope you interviewed her some more on her writing too.


  • Hi Anthony, I finished a kids picture books about six weeks ago, and its now sent off. I’m a huge fan of Marianne’s and I’ve read her books. Met her a few times now and once we sat on the same Crime Panel together. Love to do another interview with her soon:)

  • Sandy

    Good luck Karen, it’s all very scary hey? I’ve started querying agents recently too for a fiction manuscript.

  • Hi Sandy, Thanks for dropping by my website. YES, very scary querying to agents. All we can do submit our very best edited work and query letter. Good luck with yours too:))

  • I enjoy reading different experiences. Personally, I believe that the best option is dependent on the individual’s needs and the book in question.

    For example:
    Do you like to have total control over your book?
    How many contacts do you have and are you are prepared create contacts or do you need to rely on an agent who already has the contacts?
    Are you comfortable with marketing yourself and negotiating with publishers?

    I think it is hard to generalise on what is needed for any one person. It is an individual decision that should be considered carefully. I have yet to make a decision on this myself however I do believe that if you don’t have an agent you do need a good literary solicitor to negotiate your contracts.

  • Hi Kayleen, Fabulous to connect with you :))
    Yes, I agree with what you’re saying about agents. Its definitely a personal choice you must weigh up for yourself.
    Good luck with your decision..
    PS I checked out your website. LOVE your gorgeous illustrations. Congratulations :))

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