How to Approach an Agent

How to approach an agent? It’s a question that’s puzzled writers probably since there have been agents and writers.

There’s the personal pitch in the office sweetened by an awesome gift.

While this approach has apparently worked in some situations, and your mileage may vary according to how nice the rug is and how good you look in a slinky dancing costume, there’s still a pretty good chance the agent won’t be thrilled. They might even defenestrate you.

There’s the catch them in the bathroom and slide your manuscript under the stall approach. That works less well than a person thinks and while the agent may flush, they won’t be flushed with excitement. If they are like me, I hate going to the bathroom in a crowded restroom. I lean forward a bit so I don’t sound like a cow peeing on a flat rock. It’s hard to get that perfect angle where you pee relatively quietly.

Anything else involving more noise and, yeah, I’m reaching back and flushing early to disguise where that came from.

Maybe agents aren’t this concerned about their restroom habits, but still, a manuscript sliding under a stall door when you’re trying to hurry up and do your business, get your pantyhose hiked back up, preferably with no extra toilet paper trailing behind, adjusting skirt or pants, tucking in shirt, if needed and dashing back out the door to wash hands and rush to the next workshop or panel is enough stress.

Even though two-holers are kind of cozy, it’s still impolite to pass your manuscript.

Getting an agent drunk and dropping your manuscript discreetly into their bag, briefcase or purse probably won’t work either. Let’s face it, most agents I know aren’t light weights in the drinking department. You’ll probably spend your child’s college fund trying to get them drunk and they aren’t going to believe they really asked you for your manuscript in a drunken stupor. You’re doing good if they ask for a business card or a few pages.

I’m not saying getting an agent drunk isn’t a good idea. They probably appreciate the effort, but when they sober up, your writing still has to wow them.

Getting an agent alone and pitching to them.

I kind of like this idea except I always choke so I need more than the recommended minute. You need to either hone these skills or figure out a way to keep them alone a bit longer.

Here are some other not so good suggestions.

Send your query to an agent taped to the top of a pizza box. This sounds like an awesome idea. However, sometimes the pizza sticks to the top of the box. Most agents aren’t going to eat food sent from people they don’t know. (Yes, they’re a suspicious lot.) How are you going to know what kind of pizza they like without hiring a private detective and then you really look like a creepy stalker, which you are.

Sending gifts with your queries.

Yes, it gives the agent something to talk about with other agents when they do the, “I can do you one better,” game, but it doesn’t help your cause. Don’t send beautiful carved wooden boxes with your manuscript,

homemade cookies spelling out your query,

cups of flour,

watermelons from your prize-winning garden, (actually, Diana Gabaldon got that)

a jigsaw puzzle of your first page, or any other clever thing you can come up with that’s never been done before.

As boring as it is, just send a professional query

And, even though this is the digital age, don’t send a tweet to 92 agents with a link to your synopsis. It will just irritate them and you may possibly burn a bridge or 92 of them. Yes, someone did this. They tweeted Janet Reid twice, because she’s just that special.

There are three main ways. Meet an agent at a conference, get a recommendation from a client or another agent, or query professionally.

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