As you’re searching for an agent, what exactly do you want from your writing at this point in your life?
Do you want representation at the top houses but want to manage your own career? Look for an agent who will represent your book, not your career.
If you want someone who will give advice on how to shape a more successful career, look for an agent who offers to spend time helping you develop long-term goals.
Also take an honest look at your strengths and weaknesses. Are you interested in writing for the educational market and have numerous ideas for titles in this genre? You probably don’t need an agent to follow your dreams.
Have you experienced solid success in the work-for-hire nonfiction market and love the fast, frenzied pace and tight structure of nonstop assignments? An agent in the loop might slow down your pace—and your income.
However, if you feel you have the skills to write picture books with pizzazz or sweep-‘em-off-their-feet YA novels, then acquiring an agent will probably be to your advantage to land lucrative contracts with top publishing houses on a continuous basis.
If you have a book contract offered to you and you want to work with an agent, it’s almost like you’ve got Willy Wonka’s golden ticket. Look seriously for the agent that you really are interested in working with (I’ll explain how to do this in an upcoming blog post.) Then approach them with your best manuscript and also in the query letter tell them that you have been offered a contract on another book and are looking for an agent to represent you.