Should You Research Agents Before a Conference?

My phone alarm sounded as I sat in a workshop at a conference. Time to head down to the main level for my appointment with an agent. My hands shook, palms sweating. I turned to my friend to give her the knowing look. Yes, the one that says, “I’m going to the slaughter house, a.k.a the appointment room. Pray for me.”

I was in a hurry. Two things had to happen before I ‘hovered’ near the agent’s table to wait my turn. First, I had to make sure my dress was straight and there was nothing in my teeth. Then, I needed to read over the quick cheat sheet I’d made on each agent I had an appointment with.

I only had three minutes left before I must be in the room. When I whipped out the paper, I glanced over it. Funny how my mind didn’t want to take in the bit of information. My nerves eroded that part of my brain. I read over the list twice. Still nothing solid stayed in my head. Shoving the paper back in my bag, I hurried to the line.

The agent’s previous appointment stood and gave me a hopeful smile before leaving. When I sat, questions raced through my mind. What genre do they deal with? What company are they working for? Where did they work in the past? What didn’t was the answers to all those questions. I froze. I couldn’t even remember my pitch I’d worked on tirelessly.

My voice caught in my throat before a shaky remark came out. “You work with Young Adult, mid-grade level, but I saw that you’re interested in some adult fiction?”

Her answer, “Actually, I work with non-fiction. But yes, I am looking for some adult fiction.”

That was it. I’d done it. Now she’d think I didn’t know a thing about her, which meant I didn’t care enough to research, which meant she didn’t care enough to give me a contract.

Don’t let this happen to you. All the research you’ve done has a good chance of fleeing from your mind the moment you stand face to face with the agents you dream of working with.

Our brain can do amazing things when we’re at ease. It’s the times we’re stressed, over tired, or very nervous that it poops out on us. When that fight or flight reaction kicks in, have the ground work so cemented in, you won’t have to think too hard to say the precise words you meant to say.

Here’s 3 things to remember:

  • Research: Check out the agent’s website, their agency’s website, and the bio page the conference puts on their site. Knowing the genres they work with is of utmost importance. 
  • Memorize: Break out your old school days thinking cap and memorize, memorize, memorize.
  • Plan: Keep a cheat sheet with you and check it before you meet the agent or editor in case you’re too nervous to remember all the things you need to know about them.

In the end, what agents will remember about you, other than your amazing pitch, is the time you invested in them.

REJECTION: WILL YOU CRUMBLE OR GROW?

Agents are amazing people. They hold our work, indeed it feels like our life, in their hands. With a few clicks on the keyboard, they can send us jumping out of our seats and leaping over buildings. Or they can set us at our deepest point of despair in the basement of our hearts. So many times I question my Savior. “Why God,” I ask, “did you make them so? They are on a pedestal I can’t reach. Will I ever be good enough in their eyes?”

As I sit in my chair, I hear the voice that speaks in its quietest form to my soul. “You do not write for them. They are only a tool I use to help you along. You write for me.”

I shudder at the sound of the Spirit.

He continues. “Accept their rejection as a time to grow and learn.”

“But they’ve discarded my work. So many hours, even years, I spent on it.”

“Grow and learn.”

My head shakes. “How can I? I’ve denied family and friends and time for this dream. And it has come to nothing.”

“Trust me. I have a plan for you.”

I want to say it’s too hard, I can’t go on.

“I will give you strength. I will guide you to the right one for you. Just keep writing. Keep working. You’re doing it for me.”

Tears wet my cheeks. I can’t give up the purpose I am called to do. I must move forward. “Yes, Spirit. Help me to keep going. Encourage me.”

“I will.”

That day will come when we get the email or call, but only if we yield to the Spirit to grow and learn and improve. We must do this work of writing with all our might. Continue the work in season and out of season to be worthy of the call. And, we must remember we’re doing this for our Savior.

CAN YOU SIT STILL AND WAIT?

This was the year. I was determined to go to a writers conference. And, if I was going to invest the money, I was going to be prepared. I perused every square inch of the website for the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. It didn’t take long for me to be overwhelmed by the amount of information and forms that needed to be filled out and reviewed. Who should I list on my appointment form for agents and editors? What classes should I take? What should my continuing session be? The list was sky-high.

It wasn’t long before my priorities fell into place. Let me stress the ‘me’ in that. I was going to meet agents and editors. Isn’t that the real reason everyone goes to these things? All the other stuff was just extra, or so I thought. I made my lists, researched agents and editors, picked out the perfect outfits.

What I didn’t realize was God had a bigger purpose, a higher meaning for me to grasp in this trip of discovery and making connections. The first night wasn’t about getting to those agents. The next morning didn’t bring me any closer to a real editor. What did happen? God used some amazing speakers and Marlene Bagnull to speak to my heart about the real issues of today. At first I wondered what they had to do with writing. I was practically writhing in my seat waiting to get to the appointment room. But then I stopped and listened. What did God have for me in these seemingly unconnected meetings?

It hit me. He wanted me to stop my plans and listen, to sit still and wait for His purpose, HIS PLAN.

Surprised, I sat bewildered in my seat. Without waiting on the Lord, my plans were empty. I’d get nowhere. None of my work would matter. It was in that moment I tuned out the noise of many around me and got alone with my Savior.

This is where the silence of waiting began, and then the prayers to
our eternal Father.

So when you get to you conference. Sit still and listen for His voice. Let Him direct you that your plans will align with His.

As God’s Word says in Jeremiah 29:11-12 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.

Writer of Killer Romance and Encourager to Fellow Christians