Sunday, October 3, 2010

Writer's Conference: Agents - Part 1

Last week I mentioned that I'm going to attend a writer's conference next month.  As such, I need to plan things and make a few decisions, and I'll document in this blog along the way.

Today I talk about Agents (part 1).  I don't have an agent.  Some publishers won't even look at your cover letter if you don't have an agent submit your work for you.  (Though I read that in sci fi, agents aren't as important - I'll save that discussion for later.)  Some agents won't even look at your stuff unless someone else recommends you or you meet them at a conference.  Thus - one of my main goals is to meet an agent.

My ideal agent would be one with a respected name; one who does sci-fi; and one can also do an occasional Mormon-themed book (similar to Orson Scott Card).  Hmmm, I think my ideal agent may happen to be Orson Scott Card's agent.  I suppose one can dream!

While looking for an agent, I must also watch out for "predators."  These are self-proclaimed "agents" who prey on unsuspecting aspiring writers like you and me.  They know that we're desperate, and they may try to take advantage - such as offering to read our stuff for a fee (agents aren't supposed to do this), and then pocket our money and run off.  Though I suspect the NC Writer's Network would only advertise reputable agents, I also suspect "predators" may come to the conference on their own - trying to take my money and divert me from talking to a real agent.

To start with, I'm going to look into the three top agents attending this Conference.

#1) Daniel Lazar from Writers House: It says he handles literary and commercial fiction, thrillers, mysteries, young adult, graphic novels, humor, etc.  He doesn't list science fiction.  Agents that specialize in sci-fi usually list it (I think).  Looking at the Writers House website overall, I see "science" listed, but I think that means non-fiction.  Stephen Hawking is one of their clients.  Looking at the books they've agent-ed, I recognize a lot of big-name books - none are sci-fi, though.

#2) Quinlan Lee from Adams Literary: This is definitely a children's book agency.  Though I'm planning on writing a few children/young adult, I won't have anything ready by next month.

#3) Sally Hill McMillan: another local big-name agent.  It says she does Southern fiction, women's fiction, mysteries.  She specifically states that she does not do sci-fi.

Okay - from these top three, it looks like Daniel Lazar is my best bet, though I'm really getting the sense that none of these three really does sci-fi, and is not who I'm looking for.  Then I wonder - would I still approach one of them and try to get a referral?  I'll have to come back to that idea.

Finally, I should bring up the Manuscript Mart.  As mentioned before, this is a service the NCWN is providing.  For $150, they will review a book pitch and provide 25 minutes worth of review.  This could be a valuable service - as they could help me with my synopsis and query letter.  Also note that three of the four reviewers are the three agents listed above.  That is, if I really want to meet one of these agents, I have an in (for only $150).

The only problem is: it doesn't look like they do sci-fi.

One thing I could do: send an email to NCWN and ask: "If I send in a sci-fi manuscript, which agent would review it?" and see what answer I get.  I think I'll do that.

In the meantime - I must find out who else is coming.  Will other (reputable) agents be there?  If so, how do I find out who's coming?  And how do I approach them?  That'll be Part 2.

Hmmm - I wonder if Orson Scott Card's agent will be there...

Happy writing!

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