10 Tips on Landing an Agent at a Writers’ Conference
“When I was ready to seek representation, I chose not to approach agents in the usual way—by email query—even though most agents prefer that method. I wanted to get a face-to-face impression of my future agent’s personality and communication style, so I decided to attend writers’ conferences. Over six months, I pitched to nine agents at two conferences and ended up with a 100% success rate for material requests. After a few weeks of follow up, I signed with Rachel Ekstrom at Irene Goodman Literary Agency, who later sold my debut novel, SYMPTOMS OF BEING HUMAN, as part of a two-book deal with HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. Here are 10 tips that helped me land my agent at a writers’ conference.
BEFORE THE CONFERENCE
1. Find out which agents are attending. This information is usually available on the conference’s website.
2. Read their bios with these questions in mind:
- Are they taking on new clients? Some agents only offer critiques and feedback during pitch sessions; focus on the ones who are open to new clients.
- Do they represent the kind of material you’re pitching? If you pitch your Dystopian Sci-Fi to an agent who specializes in Non-Fiction, you’re probably wasting your time and the agent’s.
3. Do your homework. Now it’s time for some next-level research. Find each agent’s website and read their bio. Google their name. Read interviews with them and blog posts by them. You can even follow them on Twitter—but keep a respectful distance. (Liking and re-tweeting appropriately is ok—spamming them with random tweets about your WIP is not.) The point of all this research is to learn more about the agent’s preferences and perhaps discover something you have in common:
- Do they represent anyone you know? Any authors of whom you’re a fan?
- Do you like the same books?
- Do you share any favorites—a love of dogs or Harry Potter, for instance?
Don’t be creepy; just learn about the agent to whom you’re pitching. You may sense a connection with one that moves them higher up the list.”