I’ve been thinking about the qualities I should be looking for in prospective clients, because tomorrow I’ll resume taking queries from writers. You would think I’d have the selection criteria down pat by now. When I started my agency five years ago, the publishing industry was changing dramatically and I wasn’t the only person who had a lot to learn. From the start, I’ve looked for clients who are able to adapt to rapid technological innovations, but new technology is only part of what writers are contending with as they continually reinvent themselves.
Expanding the scope of what I mean by adaptability, and perhaps reframing it as resourcefulness, would more accurately describe what I need to see in prospective clients. A strong drive to achieve goals is essential, too, but persistence on its own—without talent, work ethic, intelligence, and social skills—comes across as mania.
On my agency’s website is a page titled Resources for writers that might be one of the best kept secrets on the internet. I like to hear from writers who know that an agent is just one of a variety of assistants and strategies—in other words, writers who already have shown the self-initiative to use as many available resources as they can.
This list tops my Resources for writers page:
- Agents for scriptwriters
- Book reviewers on the Web
- Critique groups online
- Literary journals (and other publications that feature creative writing)
- Publicity tips for authors
- Reading venues
- Social cataloging sites
- Speakers’ bureaus
- Writers’ collectives
- Writers’ conferences
- Writers’ residencies
On my site are more resources useful to writers, including writers who don’t need, don’t want, can’t get, or already have agents.
Reinvention is a survival mechanism. Writers who have learned to be resourceful and professional make wiser decisions about their careers, and they’re better able, when they choose, to collaborate with literary agents, editors, publishers, and publicists.