There are very few times stalking is considered a skill. Scouts from athletic teams are nothing more than paid stalkers who are supposed to know if someone will be the next Wilt Chamberlain, Mean Joe Green, Nolan Ryan, Babe Ruth, and Michael Jordan. (And yes, I wasn’t alive for a good majority of the list, but that’s what makes those men great athletes.)
Agents are looking for the next Michael Crichton, Stephanie Meyers, Nora Roberts, and Tom Clancy. You’d think that agents would stalk newbie writers. Not so much, it turns out. It is up to the newbie writer to stalk the agent. Which actually makes sense in many ways. Do you remember who Michael Jordan’s agent was? (It was David Falk.) Who reps Stephanie Meyers? Tom Clancy? I hear crickets, don’t I?
A newbie writer spends hours online stalking agents. Has the agent made a sell? To what publishing company? You’d hate to wind up with an agent that just makes sales to publishing companies that don’t require an agent. That’s 15% of your money wasted right there! Who else does the agent rep? Does the agent’s authors like the agent? (Anyone else feel like I’m rewriting FINDING AN AGENT, a post I wrote last year? Not quite, I promise.)
The best part of stalking agents is that agents know newbies stalk them. Some make it easy with Twitter and tweets. Others have blogs that make it easy to tell everything about them. Almost every agent does interviews with blogs and magazines. The newbie writer tracks down those interviews and gleams all they can from those.
A newbie writer subscribes to Writer’s Digest today, or follow them on Twitter and Facebook. Trust me, it becomes a best friend. The newbie gets to read professional interviews with agents. (And writing tips.) Suddenly, the agent isn’t just some name with a blurp on a website. The interviews help the newbie get to know the agent before the newbie sends off that query letter about their family saga to an agent who just does Young Adult.
I mentioned both Query Tracker and Absolute Write last week. Before the newbie queries an agent the newbie makes sure to check out Writers Beware. The newbie also subscribes to the blog so they are aware of every pitfall that comes up. Bad agents, bad publishers, bad contests. Writers Beware covers all of those.
One bad round of querying taught me the importance of stalking agents through all of these means before I even think about querying an agent again. Hopefully, you can learn from my mistakes. Maybe I’ll learn, too, and won’t be a newbie!