DO YOU WANT TO SELL ONE BOOK OR BUILD A CAREER?
Finding that perfect agent:
1. Don't go agent hunting until you have a product to sell - or FINISH THE MANUSCRIPT! Very rarely will a new author sell on proposal in this market.
2. Do your homework. Think about what you want from an agent. Do you want someone hands-on or someone who just targets appropriate editors without offering edits? Talk to friends, meet with potential agents at conferences, subscribe to PublishersMarketplace.com; check RWA for a list of editors and check AAR status; and then visit Predators and Editors http://pred-ed.com/ or other informational sites.
3. Think career and not just next sale. Know where you would like to be in five years, ten years, etc.
4. Know your own skill set and play to your strengths. Never chase a market.
5. Be realistic - an agent cannot sell what the market isn't buying.
6. Listen to your agent's advice. They have their ear to the ground and know more about the industry than you do.
7. Be more realistic - be able to tell an agent when you can deliver a manuscript or a revision.
8. Know an editor/agent's taste. Submitting a humorous manuscript to someone who loves dark and angst-ridden (even if you are friends) is not a smart career move.
9. Think very long and hard before insisting your agent market an unmarketable manuscript.
10. Use your agent as a resource, not the enemy.
11. Don't be afraid of change. Your agent can fire you or vice versa.
12. Be professional. Your agent does not need to know your daily troubles.
13. Keep your agent in the loop at all times. Keep your editor in the loop only when necessary. Otherwise, let your agent speak for you.