Friday, March 13, 2009

The Writer Mama Blog Tour and Giveaway arrives at Write to Travel.

As I mentioned the other day, Christine Katz (aka The Writer Mama) is on a blog tour celebrating the two year anniversary of her online growth at The Writer Mama and Writers on the Rise online community, plus the publication of her book The Writer Mama.

Today, we're lucky to have Christine stop by and write a little about the mystery behind getting an agent.

Your Agent, Your Partner by Christine Katz

One thing I am always emphasizing to writers when they attend a writer’s conference in hopes of impressing an agent is this: you are looking for a partner, not hoping to be discovered. An agent is not a magician. She can’t wave her magic pen and get you a deal unless you are completely capable and you can prove it on paper. (As we’ve already covered in the posts on book proposals.)

I have been extremely fortunate when it comes to partnering with an agent because I already had an offer before I went looking. In fact, Jane Frideman referred me to my agent, Rita Rosenkranz of Rita Rosenkranz Literary Agency, and I haven’t looked back since. Rita has decades of experience in the publishing industry and did an excellent job negotiating my contract and filling me in on all the newbie writer things I didn't understand. My head still spins when I look at my contracts. And it’s reassuring to know that I can always call on Rita to answer a question or check up on something that might have been overlooked.

Of course, before asking Rita to represent me, I’d either met or had phone discussions with several agents. I was impressed with Rita’s depth of knowledge, patience, and straightforwardness. If you don’t have an agent and you are planning on pitching a book, I highly recommend that you get one. Not only can an agent negotiate a better contract for you than you can negotiate on your own, she can also advise you through the first-book process and help you envision a future writing career.

Just remember, like writers, agents are a diverse bunch. I know many writers who have “broken up” with their agents for a variety of reasons. And I don’t recommend that writers sign lengthy or excessively over-committed contracts. I like the arrangement I have with my agent. We work on one book at a time and if we both want to work with each other again, it’s our choice, not our obligation, to do so.

A few things to keep in mind: Just because an agent is the right agent for a writer friend, she may not be the right one for you. She might. But then again, she might not. Be sure to interview both your friend and her agent to determine if she is a fit for your project and personality.

Be sure you interact with as many agents as possible when it’s time to select one. Be selective and check references. This is not the time to take risks. Publishing is risky enough. Your agent should be rock solid.

Don’t expect your agent to be your mother or your buddy. She is your business partner and if you are going to develop a deeper friendship, it will happen over time. Trust your instincts. Getting out of an agent agreement is possible but, of course, it’s a hassle you’d rather avoid.


Today's Book Drawing: To enter to win a signed, numbered copy of Writer Mama, answer the following question in this blog's comments:

Sometimes the perfect agent isn't someone with a personality just like yours. It's the person with the opposite personality because then you make a more balanced team. Briefly describe your personality and then describe the personality that you think would compliment yours in an agent (doesn't have to be your opposite, but this is a good opportunity for self-reflection).

Thanks for participating! Only US residents, or folks with a US mailing address can participate in the drawing. Please only enter once per day.

Where will the drawing be tomorrow?

Visit to continue reading the rest of the Writer Mama story throughout March 2009!

About the book:

Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids by Christina Katz (Writer's Digest Books 2007)

Kids change your life, but they don't necessarily have to end your career. Stay-at-home moms will love this handy guide to rearing a successful writing career while raising their children. The busy mom's guide to writing life, this book gives stay-at-moms the encouragement and advice they need including everything from getting started and finding ideas to actually finding time to do the work - something not easy to do with the pitter-patter of little feet. With advice on how to network and form a a business, this nurturing guide covers everything a writer mama needs to succeed at her second job.

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Kimberly Zook said...

Although I am almost 8 months pregnant right now, I still manage to roll out of bed around 5a.m. with enthusiasm because I'm excited to read today's post from Christine! Every day I learn so much from you, so thank you.

The question of what type of personality an agent could have to compliment mine first made me think of how my husband and my two sisters compliment my personality. Which traits would also work well in an agent of mine?

My personality is quiet, observant, deep-thinking, artistic, involved in too many projects at the same time, a bit stubborn, and hard-working but a perfectionist.

An agent's personality that might compliment mine could demonstrate traits such as patience yet firm encouragement, outgoing, sticks to the course, and offers opinions regularly that may differ from mine.

eringoodman said...

Great question.

Let's personality. I am passionate and enthusiastic (sometimes too much so). I am extremely introspective. I feel things very deeply and my writing comes from deep within my heart.

In addition to writing, I am a skilled networker and community organizer and I feel most myself when I am teaching yoga, facilitating small groups, hosting events or leading discussions.

I am very much an extrovert and often struggle with the introverted nature of being a freelance writer.

I think the perfect agent for me would be sensitive and artistic herself. She's a little New-Agey (or is at least open-minded to people who are ;-) but she is also pragmatic and competent business woman.

I would love to develop a relationship with an agent so that I could really trust that person to guide me and push me along the path to publication.

Wow! What a great exercise it was to write this out. Thank you so much Christina. And thank you Liz for hosting!!

theinternationalmom said...

Although I'm full of energy and willing to learn and put the time in to be successful, I have little experience in the writing business. A good match for me would be an agent that is calm, thoughtful, and motivated.

Angela Klocke said...

I'm driven and can be hard-headed. A little OCD and want to be in control. So the perfect agent would know I need tough love, not gentle coddling. She or he would need to know how to remind me to relax, let him/her do their job, and do what I do best, which is write. I would like to reach a point where I can concentrate more on arts and have someone else concentrate on marketing and selling me/my work. :)

nathalie said...

Nice one, Christina!

Let's see ... I am creative, honest, thoughtful, too sensitive and not a numbers person. So an ideal agent for me would be a kind straight-shooter with a good head for numbers as well as the writing industry. Also, she would be a believer in synergy.

Heather on her travels said...

I do hate giveaways that are 'just for US residents only'. This is the World Wide Web! Can't you afford the postage?

sally apokedak said...

Wow, great idea for a contest.

I love to talk to people who love to talk but I hate making small talk. I'd rather get right to the point.

So I'd like an agent who is honest and direct, not one who is afraid to hurt my feelings.

Mostly, though, I'd like an agent who loves my writing. I don't want to toot my own horn so I'd really like to have a champion in my corner tooting away full blast.


Hi Heather,

Understand your frustration with giveaways always seeming to be for US residents only. But I can understand Christine's POV as she is giving 31 books away in total and postage for that, not to mention the cost of the books themselves, would add up considerably.

I've run a few international giveaways myself and have found the postage to send a book from my home (NZ) to US is around $30 a shot - yes, it's tax deductible but still hurts. So now, I only run giveaways that the sponsor supplies the product and they get to choose the rules.

Life not always fair!!!


Liz :)

rightonmom said...

Thanks for hosting all the way from New Zealand! Woot woot!

Ideally I'd love an agent who's very market savvy, a numbers person, with a sense of humor and wit. Not too dry or stiff, (that's only for martinis) but also on the gentler side. A true believer in synergy and Cosmic intervention also very desirable. So Jesus I guess, haha...

Good question Christina.

katie said...

As always, good info and advice. :)

So, let's see... I'm somewhat introverted; I'm thorough and focused on details (not a rash decision-maker by any means); and, creative and open to change.

The perfect agent for me would be experienced, willing to take on a first-timer, and probably more aggressive than I tend to be.


emily Chadwick said...

I'm a host of contradictions: sensitive but tough, introverted yet people loving, laid back but perfectionistic, patient yet anxious, and thoughtful but with a mouth large enough to accommodate the numerous feet I seem to stick inside. I work hard, I'm honest and I believe that most people in the world are basically good.

So I need an agent who is patient, who understands the complexities of human nature, someone who's smile is always genuine but big enough to contain his or her own foot (I'm looking for an agent after all not a saint), and someone who isn't afraid to bang on doors, look under every rock and scream from the roof top, "world take notice, this kid can write." Or something like that!

thewritermama said...

Okay, ladies, now that you are thinking about what you are looking for in an agent, this would be a good time to crack open an agent guide (the 2009 version, preferably) and start putting sticky notes on the best target agents for you. :)

Thanks so much for hosting, Liz!

P.S. I give away a value of about 2,000 dollars a year through class scholarships and book giveaways. My books are available in all English-speaking countries. And I hope that the blog tour content has value to Liz' blog readers in and of itself.

thewritermama said...

Tomorrow's the last day of the blog tour and the hostess gifts are in! Come on over to Robin Mizell's blog and chime in if you have time!

And thanks again for hosting!

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