1/Be the writer – don’t apologise for your writing or treat it like a hobby or part-time job – don’t say you work in a café but you have dreams of being a writer, say you are a writer and have a job in a café. Be the writer. Your energy and passion will show through.
2/Be the hook – don’t just ask what your agent can give you, ask what you can give your agent. Writers need to be more and more marketing-friendly – you need to know who your audience is before your book is published. And if you’re clever, you will already have built up a band of Happy-Followers before you get to a publisher.
3/Be talented – anything you send an agent to consider should be polished and perfect. It may need another edit, it may need another jiggle but we want to see writing that has been considered and not rushed.
4/Be bold – a cat can look at a king – a writer can submit to any agent they want – don’t think just because an agent represents a bestselling author, they won’t want to agent you. We are always on the look out for new talent and so are publishers.
5/Be ready – have the answers for any questions an agent throws at you – who do you want to publish you? If the work isn’t finished, when will you deliver? What other writers do you admire? Who is your reader? If you don’t have the answers – wing it confidently.
6/Be polite not pushy – remember names, dates and details. Be nice – not creepy. Chat to the assistants – they are the agents of tomorrow and every agency I’ve worked in, are the top-dogs and diary-keepers. I won’t represent anyone who doesn’t pass the Sunday-night-phone call test – I ask myself would I mind them ringing me on Sunday evening? If I would, then it’s a no to the writer, even if I love their writing.
7/Be passionate – if you’re passionate about your writing and can really sell your story or book to me, I’ll be involved in that passion. And I will know I can convey that passion to a publisher.
8/Be flexible – if an agent offers you advice, take that advice on board. If they suggest changes, consider those changes carefully. They are experts in their field and – generally – know what they are talking about.
9/Be persistent – don’t think just because you’ve got your foot in the door, you’re there – you need to be persistent. Ask questions. Be animated. I need to enjoy a writer’s company – it’s a personal business and there needs to be that sense of fun when I meet my clients.
10/Be the money – agents only earn through commission – you need to prove to an agent that you can show them the money. How can you monetise your book? What little extras can you add to your book that will mean the agents will earn more? Do you do workshops/lectures? Have you got International-appeal? Have you got any great contacts? Who could give you a quote for your book? Don’t be coy – be bold, it’s a business – be it a great creative and inspiring one.