- When an agent asks for fees upfront – Never pay any fees upfront. I had known about this rule when I had paid my agent an editing fee. I made the mistake of paying an editing fee anyway, because she had me truly convinced that I needed the editing. Trust me, they can sound really persuasive and when you feel really desperate, as I did, it will all makes sense at that moment in time. But do not pay any agent any fees of any kind in advance. They will get their final fee after your book is sold.
- When an agent offers representation, but shows no interest in your work – Looking back, I should have known something was wrong, because an agent should be excited about your work. They should ask you questions about your book or characters or offer suggestions on making it better, or perhaps suggest certain changes that would make it better suited to a certain market, as they know what works. If your agent does nothing and just accepts your work as is, then you know something is fishy.
- When your work has not been edited too much – An agent knows what potential publishers are looking for. They know what a finished manuscript should look like and if you only get a minimally edited manuscript back, that looks a lot like the one you originally submitted, be worried. I was not asked to do any rewrites, just to delete a few unwanted words. I don’t think my work was that perfect. I know a few writers whose work was much better than mine, but their work had been drastically edited.
- When there is no regular communication between you and the agent – Obviously your agent can’t be in contact with you everyday. But during the submissions process, you should at least hear from your agent once a month. Just so that you know he/or she had not forgotten about you. If you never hear from your agent again after you submitted your submission package, be worried. I would never have heard from my agent again, if had not been the one to constantly contact her for information.
These are the things that when thinking back, really ticks me off. I hope it will be of some help to others.