A blog about the amazing things teenagers do, about writing for teens, books for teens, and occasional forays into my world and the world of publishing.

Monday, May 9, 2011

What to Look for in an Agent (And why I know I found it.)

Last week I got the chance to attend the LDStormaker’s conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was especially excited to go to this conference because my wonderful agent, Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary Agency was going to be there. I was looking forward to meeting Sara in person for the first time, to attending classes that would sharpen my skills, and to meeting other authors. As a busy mom, I was also looking forward to having a few days to myself. I'm happy to report that I got everything I was hoping for out of the conference and more.

This week’s blog posts will be about what I learned from the conference; from the classes I took, from having one-on-one time with my agent, and from meeting with other authors. I'm taking a brief break tomorrow to celebrate the release of Kirby Larson’s new book, THE FRIENDSHIP DOLL. (There’s still time to write a short blurb about your favorite book and enter to win Kirby’s book).

***NOTE: I learned so much that I might extend my conference posts into next week. ***

What to look for in an agent and what it was like to meeting my agent:

I was lucky enough to have a choice of agents to represent me and meeting with Sara in person confirmed to me that I made the right choice.

Here are some of the criteria I was looking for in an agent and how I know I chose the right one.

1. I had to be able to talk to my agent about ANY concern I had. I didn’t want an agent who intimidated me, or who I felt was too busy for me.

From the first conversation with Sara, I felt like she was someone I could talk to, someone I could sit down to dinner or lunch and talk about anything with. That was exactly what I got to do on Thursday night. Over dinner, Sara and I talked about our kids, our husbands, about skiing, and of course, about the business of writing. She answered my questions about marketing myself—among other things, BLOG, at least twice a week, (see Sara, I was listening), and where I needed to go with my next project. I wasn’t afraid to ask her any questions or to send her my messy first draft. She gave me good advice and direction and I value her opinion.

Since I signed with Sara, I’ve felt like I was her only client. I know that most, (if not all), of her other clients feel the same. Sunday night on Twitter a couple of Sara’s other clients were tweeting about what they would do for Sara--rob a bank, smuggle diamonds, etc.--she’s that wonderful. (If you're with the FBI, I'm sure they were just joking.) The week my book sold, another one of Sara’s clients, Miranda Kinneally, also sold her book. I had no idea that Sara was selling two books that week. The whole time I lived on the edge of uncertainty, I felt like I was the most important thing she had to worry about.

As the conference went on, I constantly had people tell me how impressed they were with Sara’s down-to-earth attitude. The people who went to her classes or had a pitch with her, said they felt like she was approachable, because she is. That's a big deal when you're entering a relationship were you're trying to sell something as intimate as your writing.

2. I had to have an agent who was knowledgeable about the business and especially the marketing aspect.

I hate selling myself, HATE IT. I would much rather spend time talking about my favorite author or book, (or my amazing agent), then I would talking about my own book. Not because I’m not absolutely excited about my own story, but because I don’t want to come off as self-centered. Having an agent who not only knows how to market, but is my biggest advocate and adviser in marketing my book is HUGE for me. Sara told me she was a walking billboard for her authors and I saw that was true. I appreciated how much she talked about me and my book at the conference. I appreciated how much time she spent gleaning information from the conference specifically to market my book next year.

When I signed with Sara, I got all of her knowledge about the industry, as well as the knowledge and advocacy that came with an agency like Nelson Literary. In an industry that is CONSTANTLY re-inventing itself, that's something that's vital to consider when choosing and agent.

3. I wanted an agent who would help me sell my work, was informed about what was selling, but at the same time respected my morals and my need to write what was in my heart.

Sara has been by my side in all of these aspects. She’s been willing to say what she thinks will and will not work in my writing. She respects my values. I know if I was asked to do something to my story I wasn’t comfortable with, she would support me.

4. I needed someone who understood that my most important responsibility is to my family.

Sara is a mom, and I know she makes sacrifices for her job, but I feel her commitment to her son and her husband come first. I appreciate that because I know she understands when I have to take a step back and concentrate on my family. As she and I discussed over dinner, we’ll might get many shots at our careers, but we only get one shot with our kids.

I appreciate everything Sara has done for me. I appreciate how accessible she has been to me, through e-mail, phone calls, and especially at the conference. For me, for where I want to go with my writing, I couldn’t have a better agent than Sara Megibow.

Sara, thank you for everything!

(See, I blogged and I even kept it short, (kind of).

What do you think are the most important qualities to look for in a literary agent?


  1. I had the tremendous opportunity to meet Sara at the LDStorymakers Conference this weekend, and I second everything you've said. She was wonderfully down to earth, a pleasure to talk to and a walking encyclopedia of knowledge about the industry.

  2. Yep. I think you got it all. :) Sara is the best.

    I know I've read your blog before, but for some reason I wasn't following. I am now!

  3. I second everything you say. (And I may or may not have been one of those talking about smuggling diamonds. But shh, don't tell those FBI guys.)

    The most important one for me was number one. My introverted self gets intimidated easily, lol, so I needed someone relaxed and down to earth that I felt comfy talking to. And I felt that from Sara from the very beginning. I haven't gotten to meet her face to face yet, but I will at RWA, so looking forward to that. :)

  4. I haven't been with Sara very long at all, but I almost feel like I could have written this post myself based on our interaction so far. She just gave me a good feeling from the outset, and I went with my gut. I can't wait to meet her this summer at RWA.

  5. I met Sara at RWA and I agree wholeheartedly. She's is FABULOUS, and so approachable and friendly. Congrats on finding such a great partnership. :)

  6. Hi, Jennifer! I also was priveleged enough to meet Sara a few weeks ago at the Washington Romance Writers Retreat and I couldn't agree with you more. I'm a visceral person, as many writers are, and I knew Sara was the perfect agent for me as soon as I "heard" her speak in her first email to me. That was completely reaffirmed when I met her a few weeks ago. I'm very proud to be working with her, too. Congratulations on your sale -- I can't wait to read it!

  7. I had the pleasure of hearing Sara speak in a couple of LDStorymakers classes, and I found her to be both professional, friendly, and knowledgeable in every way. What a combination!

    It was also a delight talking with you, Jennifer. Best of luck on Breaking Beautiful. Can't wait to read it!

  8. Thank you for sharing this! The publishers at the conference were all so personable and approachable.
    Congratulations on your book! It sounds amazing. It was good to meet you!

  9. What a great and refreshingly honest article. Congratulations on Breaking Beautiful!

  10. I thought Sara was kind, funny and very down to earth. Oh! And no nonsense. I'd love her as an agent too!
    Good luck on your book :)

  11. Cute picture! And from a cell phone no less... It was a pleasure to meet you at the conference. I love finding new friends who write and I look forward to seeing more of you as time goes on. And, I can't wait to read your book.

    The key word you had in your post and that is what I'm looking for is ADVOCATE. It is so important in an agent and I can see how Sara has met your every hope and expectation.

    And really, she goes beyond being an excellent agent, she is simply an exquisite person with a personality brimming with energy and love. I'm so glad you two found each other and I know many more good things are on the horizon for you.

  12. What a great review of Sara Megibow! (And now I know for sure we were at the same conference. I think I even saw you guys meet. Are you the person who she pulled into the hall in the ballroom?) I've always been impressed with Sara's knowledge every time I've had the chance to hear her speak or read interviews. She's a great advocate and I'm so happy for you! Also, Breaking Beautiful sounds amazing and I'll be lurking in wait for your ARC contest. :)

  13. I was impressed with Sara just like everyone else at the conference. I look forward to reading your book!!!

  14. Thanks everyone! I'm so glad that Sara made such an impression on everyone at the conference. She is a great agent and just a good person.

  15. Yep, she was pretty cool. She wasn't all big and scary like I thought most agents would be.

  16. She sounds so amazing! I loved her down-to-earth attitude at the conference as well and was hugely impressed by her. Her passion for her clients' work (yours!) totally came across too. Congratulations!