One question to ask yourself is, “Are you ready for an agent?”
Agents work with big publishers and big publishers work with big money and big deadlines and big companies such as movie companies and toy companies.
Many times, big publishers need new material fast. They might sell a movie deal and need a new middle grade novel written based on your chapter book, in one to three months. Or an easy-reader series based on your picture book…3 books at the same time to launch the series.
If you’ve never written fulltime at this pace, it will burn you out.
Sometimes publishers send call-outs to agents for authors who can submit writing samples based on writing prompts for new series and they need these books…multiple books…written fast and written well. Think Nancy Drew books and Hardy Boys books and other series. If your agent forwards a call-out like this can you meet the demand?
If you’re not ready for this yet, but want to get to that place, draw up some long-term and short term goals for yourself so that you can stretch your writing muscles and grow to be in the place you want to be.
On the other hand, I do know some authors who only want to write a book here and there and just want an agent for that. They feel that their writing is solid enough to land a big contract but they don’t want to write fulltime. If that’s you, that’s okay. Some agents are okay with that.
The key is that the quality of writing has to be top-notch to work with an agent. If you’re a first time author, chances are you need to keep working, keep taking writing classes, keep writing books from beginning to end even if they don’t get published, and keep improving your skills at writing so that your writing improves BEFORE you search for an agent.
But some authors (not many!) have natural skills and their writing shines from the get-go. If that’s you, then go ahead and look for an agent.
And if you’re not sure if your writing is good enough for an agent to take notice, then go ahead and try submitting your manuscript on a round of submissions to agents. See what their response is.