The Dream Agent

Submission protocol, query etiquette, and strategies that work

The Dream Agent

Postby Beethovenfan » 24 Oct 2011, 23:17

Here's a question for you all:
How do/did you find your dream agent?

I've been reading on another thread about how people have THE agent in mind that they would love to work with. How do you get to know them so well that you just KNOW you want to work with them? I've queried in the past, got rejections so decided to put it away for a while and look at it later. Later has arrived so this stuff is on my mind. Do you go to conferences and meet them personally? Do you read their blogs? Read their bios on the agency website? I've done some of these things and never come away feeling like I know them well enough to call them my dream agent.

I'm anxious to know what anyone else has done to find their dream agent. Thanks!
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Re: The Dream Agent

Postby CharleeVale » 25 Oct 2011, 00:51

I'm assuming the thread was mine...

For me it's all about the books. Frankly, if the agent keeps putting out books that I love, and that are doing really well, that's the dream agent. I actually have a couple 'dream agents.' And even though in the other thread I'm worried about the whole querying thing, I think if you limit yourself to just one dream agent you are definitely setting yourself up for disappointment.

But to answer your question and narrow in on one agent--It seems like every time I pick up a book I love and look in the acknowledgements, I see this agent's name. Also, all the books have done really well. Also, I'm friends with a few of the agent's clients and they all speak very highly. Does this answer your question at all?

I acknowledge that it is very late and this may not make sense in the morning...

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Re: The Dream Agent

Postby Beethovenfan » 25 Oct 2011, 12:34

You know, that makes a lot of sense. And now that you've said it, I remember reading about that somewhere, that reading your favorite books is a good place to begin finding an agent that would work for you. Thanks!
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Re: The Dream Agent

Postby HillaryJ » 26 Oct 2011, 10:36

My "dream agent" came about much the same way Charlee's explained. I just kept seeing that agent's name in the acknowledgements section of books I loved. And I think it's a great way to discover agents to add to your list. However, let me play devil's advocate here.

There are a couple of issues with picking your dream agent from the best-loved shelf on your bookcase. One, if you think your book fits right in on that shelf, it might not fit the agent's list because he or she already has similar concepts or styles and either doesn't want to pick up another client to compete with his/her existing list or is actively looking for something different. Remember that books can take up to two years to go to press, so she may have a backlog of similar works she's trying to sell or that are waiting for release.

Two, you're looking for someone who is going to work with you on your books - help you with your strengths and weaknesses - and represent you in a tough marketplace. Having similar taste in books doesn't, unfortunately, guarantee that your styles of communication will jive or that your ideas for your books or career will be similar.

I would encourage you to review publisher's marketplace, agentquery.com and querytracker.net to search for agents representing in your genre and who have sales in your genre. Build a large list. Research blogs and interviews and, if you have the means and the opportunity, try to meet with agents at conventions or workshops. Your dream agents will be the ones who you can build a professional partnership with for the long term.
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Re: The Dream Agent

Postby Beethovenfan » 26 Oct 2011, 21:44

Hillary, thanks! What you say makes a lot of sense. The only thing I haven't really tried yet is going to conventions and meeting agents face to face. I've not had the opportunity to go - life seems to get in the way. I think perhaps that will be the best way for me to know if a particualr agent is for me. But, there is still a great deal of homework to do ahead of time; researching various agents to know if they even represent my genre for one, and just know what they are looking for at the time. Thanks for your comments! :)
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Re: The Dream Agent

Postby Nathan Bransford » 30 Oct 2011, 09:37

I don't know how much you can really know until you actually have a conversation with the agent. You can definitely get a sense of someone through how they present themselves online and the other projects they represent, but I think it's really important to wait and see what happens. Definitely go with your gut while you're creating your First Round, but make sure you're thinking of it as provisional until you receive an offer of representation and have had a chance to speak with the agent.

Speaking personally, I sent out queries for Jacob Wonderbar and received an offer from Catherine Drayton at InkWell. We didn't know each other before I queried, but she is absolutely my "dream" agent. We work extremely well together and I've been really grateful for her advice and counsel over the past few years. Once we had spoken I knew we shared the same vision for my work and we have very similar styles and philosophies. I was (and am) really lucky.
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Re: The Dream Agent

Postby Rachel Ventura » 31 Oct 2011, 20:07

Nathan Bransford wrote:I don't know how much you can really know until you actually have a conversation with the agent. You can definitely get a sense of someone through how they present themselves online and the other projects they represent, but I think it's really important to wait and see what happens. Definitely go with your gut while you're creating your First Round, but make sure you're thinking of it as provisional until you receive an offer of representation and have had a chance to speak with the agent.

Speaking personally, I sent out queries for Jacob Wonderbar and received an offer from Catherine Drayton at InkWell. We didn't know each other before I queried, but she is absolutely my "dream" agent. We work extremely well together and I've been really grateful for her advice and counsel over the past few years. Once we had spoken I knew we shared the same vision for my work and we have very similar styles and philosophies. I was (and am) really lucky.

Hi Mr. Bransford,

Did you rule out Curtis Brown because that might create a conflict of interest, considering you were a former employee? Or were they on your list as a near "shoo-in"?
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Re: The Dream Agent

Postby Nathan Bransford » 03 Nov 2011, 19:47

Rachel Ventura wrote:
Nathan Bransford wrote:I don't know how much you can really know until you actually have a conversation with the agent. You can definitely get a sense of someone through how they present themselves online and the other projects they represent, but I think it's really important to wait and see what happens. Definitely go with your gut while you're creating your First Round, but make sure you're thinking of it as provisional until you receive an offer of representation and have had a chance to speak with the agent.

Speaking personally, I sent out queries for Jacob Wonderbar and received an offer from Catherine Drayton at InkWell. We didn't know each other before I queried, but she is absolutely my "dream" agent. We work extremely well together and I've been really grateful for her advice and counsel over the past few years. Once we had spoken I knew we shared the same vision for my work and we have very similar styles and philosophies. I was (and am) really lucky.

Hi Mr. Bransford,

Did you rule out Curtis Brown because that might create a conflict of interest, considering you were a former employee? Or were they on your list as a near "shoo-in"?


I didn't rule them out, but I also believed it would be less awkward to have an outside agent so I didn't have to mix my personal and professional work.
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Re: The Dream Agent

Postby Beethovenfan » 03 Nov 2011, 23:04

Nathan Bransford wrote:Speaking personally, I sent out queries for Jacob Wonderbar and received an offer from Catherine Drayton at InkWell. We didn't know each other before I queried, but she is absolutely my "dream" agent. We work extremely well together and I've been really grateful for her advice and counsel over the past few years. Once we had spoken I knew we shared the same vision for my work and we have very similar styles and philosophies. I was (and am) really lucky.


First of all, Nathan I went squee when I saw you had commented on my post! (How's that for nerdy?) :oops:
Anyway, did you think Catherine Drayton might be a dream agent before you queried her? Or was she simply one of ten in the batch who happened to be a great fit?
"Don't only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine."
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Re: The Dream Agent

Postby Nathan Bransford » 19 Nov 2011, 12:02

Beethovenfan wrote:
Nathan Bransford wrote:Speaking personally, I sent out queries for Jacob Wonderbar and received an offer from Catherine Drayton at InkWell. We didn't know each other before I queried, but she is absolutely my "dream" agent. We work extremely well together and I've been really grateful for her advice and counsel over the past few years. Once we had spoken I knew we shared the same vision for my work and we have very similar styles and philosophies. I was (and am) really lucky.


First of all, Nathan I went squee when I saw you had commented on my post! (How's that for nerdy?) :oops:
Anyway, did you think Catherine Drayton might be a dream agent before you queried her? Or was she simply one of ten in the batch who happened to be a great fit?


I certainly admired her track record a great deal and had heard good things from friends in the business, but I didn't know she'd be my "dream" agent until I spoke with her and got a sense of her personality and vision for my career. I consider myself wildly fortunate!
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Re: The Dream Agent

Postby maybegenius » 19 Nov 2011, 23:42

I certainly agree that I didn't know which agent was the best fit for me until I spoke with them and heard what they had to say about my work and what, if any, changes they wanted to see. I definitely had an idea of agents who I thought it would be cool to work with based on their online personas and preferences, but I ended up surprised multiple times. There were some agents I queried who I thought would be an absolutely PERFECT match for my manuscript based on things they'd said in interviews, but they ended up passing. Then I had plenty of agents who I wasn't sure would like it request it immediately.

In the end, the agent I signed with was one I was pretty sure I'd like when I queried her, but when I talked to her on the phone and heard how excited she was about my manuscript and her plan of action for it, I was sold.I got really lucky -- I got to choose between agents. All of them were excited about my writing and I have no doubt that any of them would have been a great fit for me, but I ended up going with the one who I felt really "got" me and my writing. And I didn't know that until I spoke with all of them.

I never really got hung up on the idea that there was this ONE AGENT who was perfect for me. It was all about figuring out who connected with my work the most and who I felt strongest about once I'd spoken with them.
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