Part Two of the series BUT ARE YOU A MATCH? (prt 1 here) could also be called:
Because different agents have different ideas about what his/her role is as your representative. Some do it all, and some have a very narrow range of what they want from you.
So let us consider:
AGENT AREA OF INTEREST–4 THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE YOU ACCEPT REPRESENTATION
THIS BOOK–Obviously, the agent wants to shop the manuscript that made her pick up the phone. Is this the only manuscript she cares about, while you have a dozen more in the offing? Is he/she ready to commit to you right then and there, but you want to flit from flower to flower, unfettered? Then perhaps you’re not a match.
But if the agent wants an ongoing relationship and you want a guide through the publishing waters, or if he/she only cares about one book–and you do too, then snap him/her up.
THIS GENRE–Perhaps the agent is clutching your non-fiction middle-grade manuscript to his/her heaving chest, but you write middle grade novels, too. Will this agent sell only your non-fiction pieces, when you want him/her to handle your novels, also? Or do you want two separate specialist agents, when this guy/gal wants to handle all the middle-grade genres you can crank out. No matches, here.
But if you only write non-fiction and the agent only handles non-fiction, or if he/she wants middle-grade manuscripts coming out his/her ears and you want to corner the middle-grade market, then it’s a team.
EVERYTHING YOU WRITE IS GENIUS–You queried a YA Vampire Western Dystopia, which the agent loves like his/her own mother, but you also write picture books. The agent doesn’t know a picture book from a hole in…the ground, but you want a one-stop agent who will find a publisher for anything you write, including a grocery list. Matching? Um, no.
But if the agent wants to collaborate on more than one book or one genre, if he/she wants to partner with you in building a career, than Eureka!
PRE-REJECTION–Say you’ve written something that falls inside the agent’s previously agreed-upon purview. But they don’t like it. I’m not talking about a manuscript that needs work before it goes out, this hypothetical book is polished to a blinding sheen. But it’s just not this agent’s cup of frappuccino. Does he/she reserve the right to refuse to represent your manuscript, or does he/she pull up his/her big boy/girl panties and get to work? You’d be surprised how often this happens.
There’s no but to this one. Asking an agent to sell a manuscript that he/she doesn’t believe in might be a waste of time for everyone involved. But an agent who rejects solid manuscript after solid manuscript seems lazy. Like they want a guarantee of success before they’ll type an email.
A good agent will tell you the truth–you don’t want him/her to go out with a crappy manuscript with your name on it–but also be open-minded enough to go outside his/her comfort zone and SELL YOUR BOOK.
Because you’ve worked hard. Really, really hard.