Today we're hosting KIM VAN SICKLER, a MG writer who, along with six other writers, blogs at Swagger, a new community for writers and readers! Go check them out and give them a warm blogger-y welcome, yes? Kim's short story fantasies have won first and second place in the Center for Writing Excellence's Fiction in Five contest and are published in anthologies.
Some day soon I hope to find my Sam Phillips.
He's the sound engineer who ran Sun Records and discovered & guided the careers of Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, and Jerry Lee Lewis, elevating them to greatness. He saw the raw talent and potential in these artists and invested in their careers. These four men received invaluable mentoring, and Sam Phillips went down in rock-n-roll history as a legend: the only non-musician to be inducted into the Rock-n-roll Hall of Fame. (And their romanticized story is told in the Broadway musical, Million Dollar Quartet.)
Sam Phillips was never about the money. It was nice, but it wasn't his top priority. His top priority was finding the next big act. It was the discovery and collaboration that drove him.
As a writer embarking on a search for an agent, finding a Sam Phillips would be a huge break. And it's something I'm willing to wait for. I've interacted now with two agents I've met at SCBWI conferences. I've paid for their critiques. Both of them gave me valid, constructive criticism in a brutally blunt manner. Neither of them were the least bit interested in retaining me as a client.
But that's okay. I learned that I didn't want them as agents either. Meeting those two agents showed me that I didn't want to land just anyone so that I could say, "I'm represented."
I'm discovering through sites like Literary Rambles and Query Tracker and from reading the "Ask the Agent" page & the "Breaking In" section of Writer's Digest, that agents are as multi-faceted as writers. They're all looking for different things and bringing their unique experiences and temperaments to the table. These resources and others show me how to go about submitting my work for an agent's consideration and find the right fit.
What I will be looking for is an agent that I'm excited to partner with. I want someone who can compliment as well as criticize. I want someone who loves and believes in what I write. I've got friends who celebrated landing their agents only to find that their agents were no use to them whatsoever. Their agents didn't sell their manuscripts, or give them useful advice, or buoy their spirits. My writer friends wasted precious time believing in people who didn't believe in them.
I will rewrite, restructure, and revise until I get it right! I'm a hard worker and determined to write good stories. Finding an agent who can appreciate me, and partner with me to sell my fantasies is my own personal fairy tale ending.
Are you on the Agent Hunt like Kim? Do you worry about finding that perfect fit? There are many things a writer needs to factor in before saying yes...what are your core needs when considering whether to sign on the dotted line?