Nick Harrison has inspired readers toward magnificent Christian living for over two decades through his devotional writings in Magnificent Prayer, Power in the Promises, His Victorious Indwelling, and Promises to Keep: Daily Devotions for Men of Integrity.
His newest release One-Minute Prayers® for Dads will be released on April 1, 2017.
After guiding authors through their writing journeys as a senior editor at Harvest House for over 15 years, this accomplished writer and seasoned editor entered the industry as a Wordserve literary agent in November 2015.
As he builds his client list, Nick continues to invest in upcoming writers through his writing blog and by teaching at various writing conferences.
Please help me welcome Nick Harrison as he shares his wisdom and insight with writers who are considering seeking agent representation.
Thanks for joining us, Nick. As you’re settling into the exciting world of agents, please share how a writer can recognize a good agent.
A good agent will take an interest not just in your work, but in your writing career and in you as a person. It may take a while to find the right agent, but it’s worth the search. You want someone who “gets” what you want to accomplish as a writer. Don’t settle for less.
What must novelists do before they are ready to seriously pursue an agent?
A few years ago I would have said to simply finish a truly great story in novel form. But now I’m finding that many fiction publishers are requiring the same “platform” they require for non-fiction authors. Now you no longer must write the story, you must demonstrate you can help find the market for the book.
What should nonfiction writers do before they consider submitting their proposals to an agent?
See what other clients the agent represents. If the agent doesn’t represent other writers in your non-fiction genre, there must be a reason. Either they don’t care for that genre or they don’t believe they can sell that genre to a publisher.
Ask your author friends for recommendations. Above all, go to at least one writer’s conference a year and meet agents in person. Talk to them and find out what they represent.
Of course, too, a good non-fiction author will have his or her platform in place and thus be able to demonstrate how the book can reach the intended market through the author’s efforts.
What should writers consider when interviewing agents to determine if they are a good match?
Many good agents have blogs. Read their blogs, look at their client list, and meet them in person. It’s kind of like dating. Your first or second agent contact may not be the right one. Keep looking, prayerfully.
When would you recommend writers to seriously pursue an agent?
It depends. If the book truly has great potential, the author should contact a good agent as he or she begins the book. This is when the author has some very timely story with national exposure possible. For instance, an Olympic Gold Medalist who wants to write his or her story needs an agent right away. Most writers, though, need to finish the book (fiction) or complete a strong book proposal with three sample chapters. I prefer the first three chapters.
When would you encourage a writer to hold off on seeking an agent?
Another good reason for attending a writer’s conference is to gauge the interest in the book you want to write. If you query editors and agents at a conference and get zero interest, you need to rethink your book and possibly drop the idea altogether. Fiction writers should finish the book or at least get well past the halfway mark before looking for an agent.
In what circumstances would a writer be better off without an agent?
Really, the only case I can think of is if the author plans to be a one-book author and has a publisher already eager to publish the book. Even then an agent can be helpful, though both publishers and agents are far more interested in authors who will continue to write than they are in one book authors. Of course, self-publishing authors may prefer not to use an agent.
When, if ever, would it be wise for a new author to accept a contract from a publisher without being represented by an agent?
I would advise an author who has an interested publisher, but does not want to sign on with an agent, to at least hire an agent for a one-time fee to look over the contract. First authors are a risk for a publisher. Sometimes an agent can negotiate better terms, but not always.
When would it be appropriate for that author to seek an agent with future books?
When they’re ready to establish themselves as a career writer. An agent is extremely valuable in helping an author with career planning.
If there are more than one agents interested in representing a writer, what should the writer consider when making a decision on who to work with?
Ask which agent is a good fit. Not just which will get me the most money, but which agent cares about me as a writer and wants to see me succeed. As I said above, it’s kind of like dating.
What should writers look for as warning signs when researching agents or agencies?
No author should pay an agent for fees to read his or her work. A freelance editor does that. Ask around. Ask some of the agent’s clients about their working relationship.
What final word of encouragement would you like to offer writers who are considering seeking agent representation?
Keep looking for the right fit and stick with that agent as long as they continue to understand your goals.
Thanks for joining us and congratulations on your upcoming release, available for pre-order now, One-Minute Prayers® for Dads, Nick.
ASK AN AGENT: Nick has graciously agreed to answer a few questions for us in the comment section. Please ask general questions in a positive way and stick to the topic of writers seeking agents. This is NOT an opportunity to pitch book ideas to Nick.