A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
What Does Representation Mean to Me
By Mo O’Hara
At times in my relationship with my literary agent she has been…
An advisor, an editor, an advocate, a negotiator, a financial analyst, a support worker, a cheerleader, a confidant, and a friend.
I’m very very lucky.
I was friends with my first literary agent (still am actually) and when she left the business I wasn’t sure that I would have that kind of professional / friendship relationship again.
When I was looking for a new agent my main concern, like most emerging writers really, was just to have an agent. I had been unrepresented for over a year and I felt a bit rudderless. I had a great crit group and loads of support from SCBWI friends, but I felt I really needed representation.
I knew what I was looking for though in my ideal agent. I wanted someone who had a good editorial eye, a knowledge of the industry and of books, good connections and people skills, tenacity, and someone who would champion me. I also wanted someone who LOVED children’s books and was excited about making kids laugh. That was Gemma Cooper and she took me on. 😊 As I said- I am very lucky.
Gemma and I became good friends, but I don’t think that it’s necessary to be friends with your agent. I know plenty of people who have really good solely professional relationships with their agents and that works. I also know plenty of people who are terrified of their agents and that would not work for me. I think I really need the professional support. I don’t think I’m a needy client. (I hope that Gemma would agree 😉) So when things were hard and I did needed support she gave me the perfect mix of practical advice, a listening ear and wine.
I would say respect and good communication are the most important elements of a good client/ agent relationship. Liking each other helps but what really matters is that your agent LOVES your writing. They will be reading a lot of it (over and over) so they better love it if they are going to help someone else fall in love with it too. You and your agent might not always agree either, but you have to trust and respect your agent’s judgement. You need to have forward thinking conversations with your agent. Things are easier if you are both heading in the same direction towards the same goal and agreeing on how you want to get there. If you don’t see your goals in the same way and you don’t feel that you can talk to your agent about it (not download excessively or whinge but talk) then maybe you are with the wrong person. At the end of the day having a successful Author/ Agent relationship means you are free to do what you do best- write.
An added bonus of signing with my agent was falling in with a fabulous group of other writers in her stable. We have become a kind of writing support team. If you know other authors with your agent then I would really recommend connecting with them. We tweet up each other’s books, go to launches and even have café writing days sometimes together. That is truly the icing on the agent cake (and mine is definitely double chocolate!)
I seem to be ending most of my blogs lately with cake. Hmmmm? Very telling.
Website, Facebook, Twitter
Originally from America, Mo now lives in London with her husband, kids and two mischievous cats. Mo now has six books out in ‘My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish’ series for 7+, published by Macmillan in the UK and Feiwel and Friends in the US. The latest in the series is ‘Jurassic Carp’ which came out in July 2015. Her new picture book with Macmillan comes out in August 2016! It’s a funny, warm take on melded families called ‘More People To Love Me.’ She also wrote six books in the Ladybird series “Puddle the Naughtiest Puppy.” Mo worked as an actress and as a storyteller, touring theatres and schools all across the UK and Ireland. As well as her stories for children Mo has also written for radio and theatre and has performed her own comedy material in London and Edinburgh