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Ask for an Appointment (Day 6)

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Good Monday morning, everyone! I’m so excited to have all of you tagging along for this series. You guys have been so welcoming and some of you are true rock stars in the social media sharing department. My blog is pretty new, so each share and follow is a blessing to me!

As I was looking at all the ways to snag an agent that I have planned for the next 31 days, it occurred to me that I may have missed a really large ‘to do’ when it comes to getting an agent. I was thinking about all of the people who say hello and seem to be sort of “waiting in the wings” at the conferences I go to. There are always people who pass me, maybe sit with me at a meal, and I can tell they want to talk about something, but they never do. I have left many meals thinking to myself, “Did she want to pitch? Hmm..maybe she’ll show up in an appointment.” Naturally, I assume these potential clients have an appointment with me, yet sometimes I wait for them to show up and they never do. We are not mind readers. There are so many people who just want their questions answered, so I never assume that if someone speaks to me that they automatically want representation. Truth be told, some people are just friendly.

A few weeks ago I hung out with an un-agented author for an entire weekend. We talked about her book and the premise sparked my interest. She was friends with one of my authors, and I could see how well she would fit on my client list. I knew she didn’t have an agent and for the first two days I wasn’t sure if she was ready for one. Then, we were chatting after dinner one night and she mentioned a few other agents that she had pitched in the past, and I thought “Oh, well apparently she is not interested in me representing her or she would have snagged an appointment with me.”  On day four, my client says to me, “Hey, she didn’t want to put you on the spot, but are you interested in seeing her one sheet?” Oh. She was interested? You see, I was interested in her, and she was interested in me, but the reason that got muddled was because she was not on my appointment list.  I had spent four days at the conference with her, and she didn’t meet with me in an official appointment, so my assumption when that happens will always be that those writers are probably pursuing other agents. This is fine, if it’s true.

All that to say, “Set an appointment to pitch your work with the agent you want, or they may never know you want them to represent you.”

If you try to get an appointment with an agent at a conference, and you aren’t able to snag one, email them directly and say something like this, “Hey, I’m attending (X Conference) and I tried really hard to get an appointment with you, but didn’t. Is there any way I could get 5 minutes of your time or maybe we could share a meal? Here is my cell. I am happy to text and find a place if you feel comfortable with that.”

If you aren’t quite ready, from a paperwork perspective to pitch to an agent, you can always set up a “get to know you” appointment. Of course, in a perfect world, I want people to come ready, but I also enjoy the writer who says “I’m not quite ready with my paper work, but this is who I am, this is my goal, and is this a project you might be interested in?” There is nothing wrong with that. Did you know that I set an appointment with Blythe that was a “get to know you/I have a few questions” kind of appointment, and 1 year later, that appointment got me a job?!??!?!

One last example of a type of appointment that you might not know about: the phone consult. A few times a year, I do a one month round of 30-minute phone appointments to help people get their questions answered. These are not free, as they help me pay for my gluten-free food and clothes for my triplets. No, seriously. Have you priced out a bag of gluten-free pretzels lately? Yeah, their like $8! So, for the entire month of October, I will do as many 1/2 hour calls as there are people who raise their hands. It’s pretty simple: You email me and say “I’m in!” and I send you a pay pal bill for $50 and we work out a date/time that works for us both to talk. Anytime, beyond these 1-month phone rounds the price is $100 for a 1/2 hour call.

I don’t know if other agents do this, but I love to do this. As I have mentioned before, I spent years just needing a handful of questions answered, and once I had those answered, I was on my way. That is what I want to do for people. I cannot represent everyone, but I might be able to help you answer your questions, so you can go find an agent that is a fit for you. Last August, I did one of these one-month phone consult rounds and I signed two people from the round of calls. It hasn’t always happened that way, but for that month, it did. One gal was the very lovely Francie Winslow? Have you met Francie before? She is an amazing speaker and woman of God. She called me to ask a few questions, which in turn caused me to ask her a few questions, and the rest is history. You should go check her out.

So, wherever you are, quit waiting in the wings and get out there and set up an appointment, be it a phone appointment or an appointment at a conference. Get brave and get your questions answered. And if you are interested in a phone appointment with me, please email me at: jessieekirkland@gmail.com and put “Phone Consult” in the subject line.

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31 Ways to Snag an Agent is part of the #Write31Days challenge. To read all the posts in this series click here.

 

 

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Writers Be Brave

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I wish you could see me now. One of my sons has decided, as of five minutes ago, that he could probably ponytail my hair. My hair was technically already in a ponytail, so he pulled it out. And some major tugging. And pulling. And pain commenced.  I asked him, “Are you almost done?!?!?!?” To which he replied, “You’re just gonna have to be brave.” 

It was a fitting statement for the entire reason I set out to write a blog post tonight. I just got back from a great conference that I attend every year, American Christian Fiction Writers  Conference. It’s been a tough year for Christian fiction. If you read Christian Fiction, you might want to run over to your nearest bookstore or online reader and support your favorite authors, and find some new ones to love while you’re there. These gals and guys have had a hard year. There are numerous houses that have closed their doors to fiction in the Christian market. I just bought a turkey mug from Wal-Mart that has a big ‘ole turkey on the front that says “The struggle is real.” And at conference, the struggle for fiction writers was not only real, it was palpable.

But, in spite of the bad news, I felt there was an energy at this conference that hasn’t been there before. I’m not sure if it was just in my agent appointments or if other editors and agents felt it too. There were readers there, not just writers. They made themselves known. These same avid readers, many of them young people, were also there pitching some really genius ideas. And they were young. These were the “millennials” that the CBA has failed to capture and convert to CBA fiction buyers. But, they were there and it was exciting. Most of the ones I met were there to pitch Young Adult novels, which is extremely challenging to sell in the CBA. But, what struck me the most was the bravery of the people that pitched to me. Bravery to pitch their writing, to explain their complex plots, and tell me boldly why I should sign them. Their ideas were great, they were professional, and their courage was refreshing.

Bravery is contagious. And I hope it begins to catch on amongst Christian fiction writers over the next year. Publishing needs/wants go in cycles. Maybe CBA fiction is down right now, but I really believe there is a shift on the horizon. I see the struggle clearly, but I think we can figure this out. Will you do something for me? Will you stick with your fiction no matter what you see on the horizon? Will you trust God with the stories and characters that live in your head—that beg you to give them life on paper? And last, but not least, writers, will you be brave? Sometimes we must believe in what we cannot yet see. There may be a little tugging on the horizon, possibly even a little pain as we re-group as an industry, but I believe that the best is yet to come for writers of Christian fiction.

-JESSIE

P.S. Please join me in October as I teach “31 Ways to Snag an Agent.” Please sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss out on anything.

 

 

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