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The Agent-Writer Interface

June 2, 2014

How an agent scouts you. How you can scout an agent.

Samantha Haywood of Transatlantic Agency

Samantha Haywood of Transatlantic Agency

On a rainy afternoon over iced tea and strawberries at Val’s, Samantha Haywood, partner and principal agent at Transatlantic Agency, shared her insights.

How does an agent decide who to represent?

Samantha starts with one or more of the following:

  • – writer’s work featured in literary magazines
  • – twitter feeds
  • – referrals
  • – directly from submissions. These are vetted first by her assistants.

Assuming Samantha’s interest is piqued, she will meet with the writer to discover if the writer is a “career writer” i.e. has plans for more books in the pipeline. This is important because Samantha prefers to establish a long term relationship beyond just the one book. She also looks for the same urgency and vibrancy of voice that was evident in the writing. A pleasant personality is a bonus, given that the path from manuscript to published book is a long process, sometimes spanning three or more years.

If a writer is fortunate enough to have a choice of agents, here’s how to go about selecting the right fit:

  • ask writers, whose writing you relate to, for referrals. Often writers have gone through the selection process and can pare it down for you.
  • ask publishers for their perception of an agent.

For this reason and others, it’s important to develop a network in the writing community.

For a budding writer, the agent-writer fit may be the most important link in the journey from manuscript to publishing.

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