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Monday, November 9, 2009

Five Ways to Ensure You Never Get an Agent by Kara Lennox

1. Don't bother going through proper channels. Querying is for losers. Just send the manuscript. Hire a private detective to find the agent's home address, and mail it there so it doesn't get placed in the slush pile by mistake. Be sure to bind your manuscript every which way--you want it to be secure! In fact, you might even have it professionally printed, including a cover. Your twelve-year-old can do the artwork. In your package, include a crisp hundred-dollar bill. Just a little incentive! Agents appreciate that. If your novel isn't finished, send it anyway. It's the editor's job to polish it up, right? And if you have several manuscripts, send them all.

2. Make sure the agent knows that your novel does not fit into any particular genre, that it transcends genre. Even better, tell him that it is experimental fiction and it has taken you fifteen years to write it. Emphasize in your cover letter that your novel is better than anything else on the market today, and especially make sure she knows it is better than the work of Suzy Q Author, who is the agent's client (and a hack). You want your prospective agent to know that your work is destined to be a #1 New York Times Best Seller that will be adapted into an Oscar-winning film.

3. Send your manuscript to at least ten publishers before you send it to an agent. After all, you don't want to pay the agent's commission if you can sell it yourself, right? Send your collection of rejection letters with your manuscript, so the agent will know not to waste his time on those loser publishers.

4. State up front the conditions under which you will allow the agent to represent your novel. Make sure she knows which publishers you want to review the manuscript, and provide a deadline for them to respond. Make it clear you will expect daily progress reports and full-page ads in People Magazine. Oh, and negotiate that commission. Fifteen percent? Come on. Your book is going to make millions, and they'll hardly have to work at all. Three percent should be plenty.

5. If you meet a literary agent at a writer's conference, monopolize all of his free time. Sit in the front row of his workshop, then interrupt his talk with long, complex questions that pertain to your novel, only. Corner him at the hotel bar and keep other writers away from him. (He'll appreciate your protecting him from the riff-raff.) If anyone else horns in on your conversation, don't let them get a word in edgewise. After all, the agent is sure to find every detail about your book endlessly fascinating.

* * *

Hopefully you are savvy enough not to make any of the above mistakes. But how do you catch the attention of a great agent without throwing yourself in the path of their oncoming car?

Find out at my two-week online course, "Agents: How to Find Them, Hire Them, Work with Them, and Fire Them.

This course is sponsored by RWA's Futuristic, Fantasy & Paranormal Online Chapter, and will run from November 30 through December 14. You can learn more or sign up for the class here.


Jennifer Leeland said...

ROTFL! I love this.
You forgot "Corner him in a bathroom stall."
Damn. I didn't think about the crisp $100 bill. LOL.
Great post and I'm going to check out the workshop.

Missy Lyons said...

Very good info in there. lol

Debbie Kaufman said...

Hysterical, but sad since your examples must be from real life!

Anonymous said...

This is hilarious! The sad part is you hear agents and editors talking all the time about authors that do just the types of things written here!

Great post, Kara!

Walt M said...

OK. That's a little scary. And like Debbie mentioned above, it must be from real life.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Well, now you tell me! I've been doing it wrong for years and years. No wonder my last 3 agents were so ... unusual.

lol, thanks Kara. Your sense of humour is refreshing.

Anonymous said...

Glad I wasn't drinking my coffee when I read this. "Snork!" Funniest thing I've read. And, sadly, probably very true.

Will check out the workshop, too. Enjoyed your plotting class.