Your best friend, good friend, church friend, neighbor’s cousin, brother-in-law… Someone in your social circle works as a literary agent. Here are some things to consider:

 

  1. Don’t use personal social media to ask the agent if they’ve received or read your query. You’re calling yourself out – to millions of people – and putting the agent on the spot. Do you actually want him to tell the world, “Your book was awful. I’d reject it 20 times if I could.”
  2. Don’t use private messaging to pitch your book (unless you are specifically invited to do so). Use the official channels, like the agent’s work website.
  3. Stalking agents through their personal social media is not savvy. It’s creepy.
  4. Be careful about “friending” an agent on certain social media platforms. Do you really want them to see all your photos from that alcohol-hazed weekend in Chicago? Or your bathroom selfies?
  5. If you and the agent don’t share the same politics, leave it off social media. Everyone has a political opinion, and when they are vastly different, it’s easy to personalize criticism about your choice or belief. Attacking the agent’s opinion on their personal social media is dumb.
  6. It’s easy to assume an agent is “always on.” They always want to be pitched books. They always want to read queries. They always want to talk publishing. Guess what? No, that’s not true. Like any professional, an agent has a life outside of work. It’s a special place and time that will be guarded fiercely. If you try to steal even a second of that time, you may not like the outcome.
  7. Use personal relationships with an agent wisely. Don’t ask your agent friend to read your 900-page manuscript “to tell you what they think.” Don’t promise another person that you’re agent friend will happily represent their manuscript. Don’t put your agent friend on the spot by not being professional.
  8. Ask yourself if you can truly separate your friendship from your desire to be represented by an agent. If you pitch your agent friend and she rejects the manuscript, can you handle it? Or will you hold it against her and have it affect your friendship?
  9. If your agent friend didn’t like your manuscript, don’t try to change their mind. Every agent’s tastes differ. The agent must put personal feelings aside and approach a project with business in mind. If your work isn’t what they’re seeking, it was a business decision, not a personal rejection of your friendship.
  10. If you’re feeling brave, intern for an agent for a month. You won’t see everything your agent friend deals with, but the perspective will help you understand just how difficult her job is.