Last week Hillary Homzie and I did a super fun and informative webinar where we shared 5 Things Agents and Editors Want to See Before Signing You with examples from fabulous books. One of those things was Special X, which was kind of a hook, like a book hook that makes you want to keep reading. With us, Special X was a group of things around behaviors that agents and editors want to see. Well when we got to Special X, we were already over time and got flustered and didn't give it as much as time as we would have liked. So I wrote something up on the webinar recording page for the folks who had registered that summarized the main things from the webinar and included the Special X materials. I felt that this info might also be helpful to a wider range of creatives beyond the wonderful 470 people who registered. So here it is:
1. Professionalism - Your work is beautifully written with all the main criteria covered of: original subject matter or approach, great voice, awesome plotting or page turners whether it's fiction or nonfiction. It needs to be professionally edited with few typos or grammar errors. Editors and agents who edit are creative editors, not copy editors. And sadly, they are so very busy that they don't have time or interest to do this for you. So being professional means whether it's a query or a manuscript, it has to be professionally written and it has to shine. If this isn't your strength, either take our awesome Grammar course with Miranda Paul or hire a professional editor who also does copy editing.
2. Politeness and Charm - This means don't try and pitch an agent or editor in the bathroom, on an elevator, when they are surrounded by others, or when they are eating. In other words, don't hound them. Politeness is another form of professionalism. When I was an agent, I had someone charming pitch me via email, and while I really liked her and her work, she kept hounding me with emails and it was so overwhelming and gave off so many red flags of being high maintenance that I just said no. And while charm isn't critical, editors and agents are giving large amounts of their precious time to work with you so it really helps to work with someone who is either charming or nice. Actually niceness trumps charm every time, but charm can be fun!
3. Punctuality - Yep, being punctual is critical - doing what you say you are going to do when you say you are going to do it. If you say that you'll get the first 10 pages to them by next Monday then it needs to be there by next Monday. Agents and editors are constantly up against deadlines and they need to know that you can be relied upon to make yours. So punctuality is another form of professionalism.
4. Research - Show that you know what you are doing by researching whomever you are approaching so that they know that you want to work specifically with them. You could call this another form of politeness, niceness, and professionalism. Trust me, it really helps. Agents and editors want to know that you aren't approaching everyone out there and that they aren't wasting their time reading on.
5. Promotion - More and more agents and editors want to see that you have a network of friends and a platform to help spread the word about your books in order to help sell them. What this means basically is having a strong social media following in places like Facebook and/or Twitter and a website that engages people and shares about your work. In fact, in one contract that I negotiated as an agent, this was one of the non-negotiable criteria in the contract. In addition, an editor that I spoke with said that the first thing she does on receiving a manuscript or query that she is interested in, is check them out on the web. I know you might be groaning but this is just the reality of contemporary publishing. Luckily, it's not the case with all agents and editors, although they may strongly encourage you to make sure you have your social media and website in place after they sign you.
So that's it for the 5 Things Agents and Editors Want to See Before Signing You and Special X. I hope that you found it helpful. Unfortunately it's too late to register for this webinar recording but to get first dibs on other free webinars, special offers, and other goodies!
Dr. Mira Reisberg is the co-teacher of the upcoming ground-breaking Middle Grade Mastery course with Hillary Homzie, starting February 29th! She has helped MANY authors and illustrators get published. She has also worn just about every hat in the industry including art director, editor, award-winning illustrator and author, kid lit university professor, and literary agent. Mira holds a PhD in Education and Cultural Studies with a focus on children's literature. In just the past few years, former students have received over 50 contract offers while many others have become agented. This makes her extremely happy!!!
Mondays with Mandy or Mira consists of Mandy Yates and Mira Reisberg. Mira is the founder of the Children's Book Academy and was so impressed with Mandy when she was a student in one of the interactive courses, that she invited Mandy to share the blog. Mandy has as an MFA in creative writing from Spalding University and has been published multiple times in Highlights Magazine. We hope you enjoy and find our offerings helpful.
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