What Makes A Good Agent? by Kristin Nelson
For years, I’ve been friends with the Backspace Co-Founder Extraordinaire Karen Dionne. Over the break, she reached out to me to see if I was open to doing the 2016 Salt Cay Writers Retreat in the Caribbean.
Like I need to think about that. Conference in a warm, tropical setting? Oh, heck yeah, I’m in. But as we were chatting, we started talking about how writers sometimes want an agent so badly, they are willing to sign with an average or even a below-average agent. Trust me, not all agents are equal.
And I said, “Well, writers don’t know what they don’t know.”
In that moment, a lightbulb went off for both of us. Writers don’t know what a good agent does. How could you if 1) a writer has never experienced it and 2) a writer has had one agent and no way to assess just how strong they might be at the job.
Granted, this is solely our own opinions, but having done this for 12+ years, and to good success, I have a very clear view of what makes for an excellent agent—an agent who is advocating for the author in every facet of managing the author’s career.
Karen has been in this biz a good long time as well. Through Backspace, she knows a lot of writers. She’s heard the good, she’s heard the bad, and she’s heard the truly ugly.
So Karen and I decided to do a whole series of articles on what makes a good agent and the articles are going to appear in the NLA newsletter first before they go public on my blog Pub Rants and on the Backspace Website.
And this is our gift to all my loyal newsletter followers, and pass it forward as both of us welcome new followers as well.
For my whole career, I’ve done my best to provide good information and an education for any writer interested in learning about the publishing industry.
Stay tuned, and I hope your 2015 is amazing.
Kristin Nelson established Nelson Literary Agency, LLC, in 2002 and over the last decade of her career has represented over thirty New York Times bestselling titles and many USA Today bestsellers. Clients include Jamie Ford, Hugh Howey, Ally Carter, Marie Lu, Gail Carriger, Simone Elkeles, Jasinda Wilder, Courtney Milan, and RITA-award winners Sherry Thomas and Linnea Sinclair.
She is currently looking for literary commercial novels, big crossover novels with one foot squarely in genre, upmarket women’s fiction, lead title or hardcover science fiction and fantasy, single-title romance (with a special passion for historicals), and young adult and upper-level middle grade novels.
When she is not busy selling books, Kristin plays tennis as well as Bridge (where she is the youngest person in her club). She can also be found hiking in the mountains with her husband and their dog Chutney.
Karen Dionne is the internationally published author of the science thrillers Freezing Point and Boiling Point, both from Berkley. Her newest novel, an original story based on the popular Fox television series “The Killing” starring Joel Kinnaman and Mirelle Enos published from Titan Books June 24, 2014.
Karen is cofounder of the online writers community Backspace, and organizes the Salt Cay Writers Retreat held every year on a private island in the Bahamas. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and the International Thriller Writers, where she served on the board of directors as Vice President, Technology.