Day two of my reports from the Austin SCBWI conference, and here’s what literary agent Andrea Cascardi from the Transatlantic Literary Agency had to say about getting and working with an agent.
Like fellow speaker Mark McVeigh, Andrea was an editor before she became an agent. She worked in editorial at Houghton Mifflin, Scholastic, Crown/Random House, Hyperion and Knopf. Some of the authors she is now the agent for are Shana Burg and Christine Ford,
As an agent, Andrea said that each author/agent relationship is unique. Agents and authors each have different personalities, tastes, etc., and because of that, authors and agents need to find the person who will be a good match, so they can work together productively for the long term.
Before authors submit to an agent, they should decide what kind of agency they want to be with. Andrea said writers should consider whether they want to be with a big agency or a small boutique, whether they want an agent who likes to communicate by phone or texting, the agent’s experience, whether the agent likes to edit, and what kind of sales the agent has had.
Once writers have decided what kind of agent they want, they can research the agents online, look at blogs and/or Twitter feeds, interviews and deals on Publishers Marketplace.
Andrea also warned that both the agent and author should be passionate about what they’re doing, because in the publishing industry, lows can be extremely low and highs stratospheric. The agent helps the author through both.
She explained that agents are the advocate of their client always, whereas an editor must straddle the needs of the author and the publishing house.
Because of that, authors should trust their agents, because agents have the big picture knowledge of the industry.
With their agent, Andrea said, writers should:
- Form a plan for submission of the manuscript.
- Be well informed about contracts.
- Give agents a heads up before sending in a finished manuscript so the agents can plan.
Honesty is the best policy when working with agents, Andrea said, and if a writer isn’t happy with his or her agent, he or she should talk to the agent about the problems.
Stay positive but realistic, she said.
I talked to Andrea at the conference, and she graciously said she would do an interview or guest post for Day By Day Writer. So, stay tuned for that.
Come back tomorrow to see what Arthur Levine Books editor Cheryl Klein had to say at the conference.