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Job Description of an Agent and When to/not to Query Them.


Today in my writing club our youngest member said she was researching agents. I recalled that her story wasn't complete. When I reminded her she said it didn't matter.

"What?" I said.
"Well, from what I understand, an agent is someone who likes the idea and how the story starts. They find the publisher and editor to help you. So as long as my story has an ending then I'll be good."

Needless to say everyone in the room blinked. A lot, with our mouths open. We all told her that it was not like that and the last thing she wanted to do was hand over her story to a stranger to twist and chisel into something that she didn't write. Now I've put my writing on hold, or per diem, while I help her revise her story.

But she did raise an interesting point. An agent is not an editor or a publisher. True you don't want to give them ten pages, which they accept, for them to accept only so they sit in their office as you write and revise and repeat for who knows how long until your story is done. I've heard that some publishers will have an author re-write their story for....some reason.

So at what point in the revision stages would you all say is good to query an agent? Obviously not the first draft. Second draft is pushing it. Third is antsy but possible. Or should you maybe hire an editor first and then find an agent?

A. E. Lowan

Forum Mom
You submit to an agent when you have a finished work, polished to the best of your ability - not a second before. An agent gets you in editor's door... end official job description. While many agents may work with authors to further refine and make their work marketable, that is at their own individual discrection; they are not crit-partners, freelance editors, or writing teachers. They are business professionals whose job it is to sell our fiction to the best available market and take a cut. Our job is to give them the best product we can.