Finding an agent, by the numbers
I just got my latest issue of Terry Whalin’s “Right Writing News” newsletter. If you don’t get this . . . go to Terry’s website and subscribe now. Also ask him to give you access to the back issues. Then devour each and every one of them. One of the articles in the newest issue is called, “Fishing for an Agent,” written by Brian Hill and Dee Power. In the article Hill and Power tell where agents find their clients. The numbers break down like this:
39% Referral from one of their other clients
33% Direct contact by the writer
9% Referral from editors and publishers
8% Referral from other authors not their clients
5% Referrals from other agents
3% Attendance at writers conferences
Pretty interesting, don’t you think? Notice what the number one avenue is: a referral.
What this tells me is that publishing is no different than the entertainment business: it’s whom you know. And how do you meet the other clients (authors) of agents? How do you meet editors and publishers? How do you meet agents? One excellent way is a writer’s conference. I know not everyone is able to afford a conference, some of them can be pretty expensive, and then with room and airfare costs . . . But if you can, if there is a local one that you can drive to, if there is someone willing to sponsor you or loan you the money, if the conference offers scholarships, which most of them do, go. Go, go, go. And use every opportunity to meet and greet other authors, editors, publishers, and agents. As you can see from the numbers, the number one way agents find clients is through other clients.
For a listing of writer’s conferences check out these resources: Terry Whalin’s Right-Writing website and Sally Stuart’s website (for Christian conferences), and Shawguides.com (for other writing conferences).