Saturday, June 4, 2011

What to look for in an agent--guest post by Raquel Byrnes

A killer strikes. A love rekindled. A life-altering choice.

PURPLE KNOT by Raquel Byrnes

Welcome, writers. Today I'm honored to feature a guest post by author Raquel Byrnes, whose book PURPLE KNOT just released June 3rd. Woo hoo!

Raquel tackles the subject, "What to look for in an agent." Take it away, Raquel!

What to Look for In an Agent

Agents are people and as such, they vary from micro-managers to the other end of the spectrum. One thing to help you decide what you to look for in an agent is to look at yourself and how you work.

  • Do you need hand holding?
  • Do you hope for a movie-esque relationship where they call you up at night with a great idea?
  • Do you see an agent as a sort of mentor or teacher?
  • Do you want them to help you with your manuscript because it needs an overhaul?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you don’t need an agent. You need more time. You see, agents take you on spec. That is, they don’t make any money unless they sell your book. So when looking for an agent, make sure that YOU’RE what THEY’RE looking for in a client.

Once you feel you’re ready to query, there are a few things to keep in mind that will help you separate the honest, reputable agents from the scoundrels.

  • Agents do not charge you money. Period. Not for a reading fee or a submission fee or anything else.
  • They do not say they will take you if you use their editorial services. Reputable agents with connections to an editing service let you know about that relationship up front. And whether or not you use their service should not affect your submission with them.
  • You can check their track record on Publisher’s Marketplace or similar sites. If they are successful and have been in the business a while, then it will show.
  • If their commission is outrageous, more than 10-15% domestic, or they penalize you for being new by charging a higher commission, then walk away.

Where do you find a great agent?

One of the best places is to meet them face to face at a conference. My own agent has said that he finds 80% of his clients during sessions at conferences. This is a wonderful way to dialogue with an agent about what to expect, how they handle client questions, and what level of interaction you are looking for.

Websites like Query Tracker, a free database of literary agents and publishers, is a fantastic place to start when you’re ready to submit your query. Finding an agent is a long process, but worth it when you connect with the right one. As a wise person once pointed out…publication isn’t a selection process, it’s a survival process.

Thanks, Raquel!

Writers, please feel free to stop by and visit Raquel during her blog tour, happening now through July 4th. Click here for more information about PURPLE KNOT, including the book trailer and an excerpt.

Raquel, I think I speak for everyone when I say, "Congratulations!"

Raquel Byrnes lives in Southern, California with her husband of sixteen years and their six children. She considers inspirational fiction a wonderful way to minister to others. She writes romantic suspense with an edge-your-seat pace. Her first book the Shades of Hope Series, Purple Knot, releases on June 3rd from White Rose Publishing. You can visit her at her website: and her writing blog, Edge of Your Seat Romance.


  1. Yes congrats… and thx for the info.
    We as (unpublished) writers need every bit of advice we can get.

  2. it's too bad that agents rely so much on conferences. There are a lot of great writers who cannot afford to go to a conference, which, by the time you pay for airfaire hotel and meals can be just as expensive as a vacation.

  3. Wow! Awesome guest post. Great advice.

  4. Hello, Julie. Thanks for introducing me to Raquel, and to the author I thank you for your advice. Much success to you both.


  5. Thanks to Raquel for some super solid advice! Thanks Julie, for hosting the post :)

  6. All good points! Great post! Thanks Julie and Raquel:)

  7. Thanks you guys! I'm glad you found the article helpful. And thank you, Julie for hosting me on your blog...its been such a fun tour so far.
    Edge of Your Seat Romance

  8. Its too bad that agents rely on conferences, being in India, I will not get a chance to attend a conference.

    Thanks, Julie and Raquel. The post is very helpful. Best of luck with your book, Raquel.

  9. Great guest post, Raquel! I completely agree with many of your points as to why an author may not be ready for an agent (i.e. hand-holding, mentoring, etc.). Much luck with your release!

  10. Rachna - The email query still works. Conferences are the best way, but not the ONLY way. A killer query can open a lot of doors!

    Thank you all for your well wishes!

  11. That's so exciting, congrats Raquel!

  12. Congrats on your success, Raquel! Thanks for the agent tips. This post is very timely for me as I finally round the corner and will be going into the query phase again in the very near future.

    Great quest post, Julie!!

  13. Depends on the agent. I have gotten 0 clients from conferences, personally. I certainly wouldn't say that is the BEST way to get an agent's attention, just a way out of several. (some others being: cold querying, client or editor referral, or being published already or have platform so you have name recognition / agent approaches YOU.)

  14. Good luck on PURPLE KNOT, Raquel. Great advice. I was surprised at the high percent of connections made at conferences. Good to know.

  15. Alex - Thank you so much!

    Loree - Good luck with your queries!

    Literaticat - Very true. I was telling Rachna that very thing.

    Leslie - Glad you found the post helpful...thank you!

  16. Great tips. It's very important for a writer to figure out what she wants in agent before querying, then you'll make a better choice and find a better fit.

  17. Great post, Raquel. Congrats on your release of Purple Knot!

  18. Thanks, Raquel, for the super advice. The conference stat surprised. I read somewhere there are only about 300 registered agents in the U.S. and each receives about 30,000 queries a year, from which nine are selected and 8 get published.

  19. This was awesome. Thanks for posting and thanks Raquel for the advice.

  20. Thanks, Julie for hosting Raquel.

    Raquel, what a beautiful cover. I wish you the best with the book.

    Thanks for the good tips. It's good to know what to look and not look for.

  21. Hi Raquel, Hello Julie,

    Great post, thanks for sharing. We strugglers need this information.

  22. Hey Raquel! Nice to meet you! I loved the post :D And congrats on your book, too!

  23. I've heard a lot about this book. Will have to check it out!

  24. Please stop by my blog to pick up the award I've nominated you for.

    Susanne Drazic

  25. The conference is an excellent opportunity for getting to know agents. Too bad it's so difficult for many, not just because of financial considerations, but if you have small children it can be really hard to get out of town for a few days! Nonetheless, my own experience is that conferences are the best way to get submission requests from agents and get a feel for whether you could work with them, unless you can get an introduction from one of their authors.

  26. Great post! Best wishes with your book, Raquel.

  27. Great guest post, and wonderful advice! :)

  28. thankyou!! awesome!
    very helpful

  29. Thanks for the advice! Great points and really useful. Best wishes for your book!

  30. Great advice. At this point I just want a favorable response to my query from an agent. :(