Round Table Session: Are You Ready for an Agent

Our April 5 meeting featured six different round tables. This post is the third of six describing the different sessions. This round table featured NCWA Member and new Author, Jim Rubart. Jims’ new novel hit NUMBER ONE for KINDLE releases.

Jim_head_shot_11_16_'09.jpg image

Jim Rubart is the owner of Barefoot Marketing and has been a professional marketer for over twenty years. He writes for B & H Fiction, and his first novel, ROOMS, has just released. It’s the story of a young Seattle software tycoon who inherits a home in Cannon Beach that turns out to be a physical manifestation of his soul. RT Book Reviews gave ROOMS 4 stars and made it a top pick for April. Publishers Weekly calls ROOMS ” … suspenseful … and compelling.” Visit Jim at or e-mail Jim at:

Why You Need an Agent:

  • Apart from opportunities found at writers conferences, it’s difficult to get a manuscript before an editor on your own.
  • An agent can negotiate with publishers for specific rights and provisions about which you might have little knowledge.
  • An agent can help shape your career from the perspective of an intimate knowledge of the publishing industry.
  • Agents enjoy relationships with publishing houses hard for authors to establish and maintain.

 The agent mentality—getting inside their heads:

  • Ask yourself what you have to sell to this agent. Agents don’t really reject you. They reject their ability to sell something and make money off you. Having a strong platform is essential to alleviate an agent’s concerns.
  • Writing success is about relationships.  Don’t be a loner. Get to know people online and through avenues such as writers’ conferences.
  • Set up meetings with agents at writers’ conferences. Take advantage of this means to meet them face-to-face.

Are you ready for an agent?

  • Do you have a platform? This is a huge consideration. Don’t neglect it. You can establish a platform by blogging. Connect with others on Facebook and Twitter. But don’t misuse this tool. Go outside of your author friend circle to find your readers. And give them something of value rather than posting about trivial matters. Perhaps your life experiences qualify you to write on a particular topic. You might have credentials you can use. Some people’s qualifications stem from something they do that might at first seem unrelated to writing.
  • Is your writing stellar? There’s no substitute for good writing. An agent has to believe in what you write.
  • Is your idea mind-blowing? Agents are looking for something that gives them an edge over the competition. Give them something they can sell.

How to prepare to land an agent:

  • Build your platform through social networking and identifying your unique qualifications and credentials.  Study the archives of blogs written by Chip MacGregor and Rashelle Gardner.
  • Develop your writing skills. Remember, good isn’t good enough. Study writing, join a critique group and enter writing contests to help you improve.
  • Produce ideas that resonate. Think outside the box.

How to pitch your manuscript to an agent when the time is right.

  • Make it short. Jim’s own brief pitch is only 23 words long. After you’ve given your pitch, don’t go on and on after that. Be ready to give another more information, perhaps 50 words more, if asked.
  • Make it sweet. Be fascinating. Remember that the agent is a potential reader, and you should keep your reader wanting more.
  • Show how representing you will benefit the agent. Tell them about your platform and how you can make them money.
  • Be ready to answer “Why?” Why should the agent represent you? What makes your work compelling?

The handout from Jim’s session is here:

Jim Rubart Are_You_Ready_for_an_Agent_for_NCWA_4_5_’10

JanalynVoigt.jpgJanalyn Voigt

Janalyn Voigt, the author of this post, identified her call to write at the age of 12 and grew up teaching herself classic story structures, basic conflicts and the craft of writing long before she received formal training as an alumni of Christian Writers Guild. Janalyn is the author of DawnSinger, book one of Tales of Faeraven, which will release with Port Yonder Press. She blogs at, and Janalyn’s publication credits include Brio (Focus on the Family), Powerline Papers (Scripture Press) and Pentecostal Evangel. She is affiliated with ACFW and has been a member of NCWA since September, 2009.  


3 thoughts on “Round Table Session: Are You Ready for an Agent

  1. Excellent reporting – I am in the process of putting together query letters, etc. for my latest manuscript and am absorbing all the info I can ahead of time. Thanks, Marlene


  2. Susan,

    You can still query editors and seek conference appointments with them while looking for an agent. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. I just returned from a seminar with Susan May Warren, and she emphasized that you’re not really off the hook on pitching your books even when you have an agent. I can’t think of anything more appealing to an agent, too, than a writer with an interested editor.

    Marlene, thank you. Best wishes to both you ladies.


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