Hello everyone, first I would like to thank Lea and Muse It Up for hosting me today and all of you for dropping by. My name is Jennifer Etherton, Senior Agent and Owner of Jennifer Etherton Literary Services. I look forward to answering any questions you may have about what I do, how to attract an agent or anything else you might want to know.
Jennifer Etherton Literary Services is a new agency but has already attracted many seasoned authors who are in negotiations with major houses including Harlequin, Random House, and St. Martin’s Press. While this is a new agency, we are very strict when it comes to the selection process. This will ensure that we only select quality manuscripts, thus allowing us to build a reputation of offering high quality pieces to the best editors. We don’t specialize in one genre giving us more material to offer to the major publishing houses.
For those who are seeking representation there are many things to consider when you begin to send out your query letters. One of the most important things to remember is to read all of the information contained on a literary agency’s website, with special attention paid to their submission guidelines. It is important to follow the instructions exactly; this tells the agent that you are willing to follow directions. It also makes it much easier to evaluate your submission if they have all the information they require. Some agencies that will reject any submission that doesn’t meet their guidelines, others will give you the option to correct your mistake, but it still puts you in a bad light.
It is also important to do all of your research before you send out your query letters. Never send out queries and then begin your research after an agent decides to contact you for possible representation. This is not only extremely rude; it wastes valuable time and resources if you decide to wait for another agency, based on research alone. While it is important to want your agent as much as he or she wants you, the research stage of this process should be completed before you ever send out your first letter.
If you get a response from an agent, it is important that you evaluate him or her while they are doing the same to you. This will be a close working relationship so it will be vital that you are comfortable with your agent. The agent will actually be looking at many aspects of the package that you present when they first contact you for further information. They are looking to make sure that you will not be a difficult author to work with, that you are willing to take criticism, and other points that they personally consider important.
At this point, I look for a few things when I contact the author. The first thing I consider is their workability and the size of their ego. It is vital that an author is willing to take instruction and constructive criticism from their agent. This will show me that the prospective author will work well with an editor. This is your time to shine and it is important that you put your best foot forward.
One of the best things to remember is to be yourself when you talk to an agent. You will be working closely with him or her for many years to come, this means that you need to be comfortable with the agent on a personal level. At this point, I would like to open it up to your questions.