How do I know if an agent is doing his/her job? Once you have signed with an agent, he should keep you informed of any activity on your proposals. He should tell you what houses he has sent them to and the responses of those houses. Normally all correspondence between you and your agent as well as your agent and the publishing houses is done by e-mail. Therefore there should not be any upfront costs for you to pay.
How is my agent paid? Your royalty checks will be sent directly to your agent. That way he/she can look over your statements and make sure they are accurate. He takes his 15%, and sends you a check for the balance. Also when an agent is negotiating a contract for you, he can usually get a better deal than you can. And of course he wants the best deal he can get, since he gets 15% of your advance and royalty checks.
Although I have an excellent agent, I still keep in contact with the publishing houses I am interested in publishing with. If I have a new idea, and I happen to be at a conference where I can talk to an editor or publisher, I take advantage of that situation. Keep in mind your agent is representing as many as a hundred clients, and you are only representing you!
A question I am frequently asked by friends and customers of my critique service is: Should I get an agent? The answer isn’t as simple as yes or no. I placed 28 books on my own before I obtained an agent. Now I’m not suggesting that you have to do that, but you do want to get an agent who is competent.
When is it time to get an agent? Many people think that getting an agent is the answer to all their problems. However if you don’t have a proven track record— have not published a few books or don’t have a dynamic speaking ministry—it may be hard for you to get a good agent. So it is important to build a good reputation before you seek an agent.
How do I know that an agent is good? If an agent shows interest in you, ask him/her for three clients that will recommend him. Also ask for three books his agency has placed that year. If people won’t recommend him and he has not placed books, you don’t want him to represent you! A mediocre or incompetent agent can hurt you more than not having one.
Where do I find a good agent? Agents as well as editors attend large writers’ conferences looking for new clients. Conferences such as Colorado Christian Writers Conference and Write-to-publish are excellent places to sit down and actually talk to an agent. It’s important to find an agent who is passionate about what you write. He won’t be able to sell your material to a publishing house if he doesn’t believe in your project.