We talk so much to authors about the importance of branding yourselves. Of picking a genre and sticking with it or at least identifying what you’re really strong at and making sure that comes through in your brand. We encourage authors to have a brand and a hook and tell them that they should be able to pitch themselves easily and succinctly when asked. But what about agents and editors? Shouldn’t we be required to do the same?
Yes, absolutely. And it drives me crazy that so few can or do.
When anyone asks an agent or editor what they are looking for we should be able to give a few really strong concrete answers.
It drives me crazy when I’m meeting a new editor and looking to find a way to make her stand out and feel special enough to submit to and what she gives me when I ask what she’s looking for is the company line. Yes, I know your company publishes contemporary romance and suspense, but what I want to know is what floats your boat personally. If I already have a relationship with Jane, Betsy, and Amy at your publisher than I need to know what you’re doing that makes me want to send to you. Do you have a passion for werewolves or sexy lawyers or erotica? Are you confused by historicals or exhausted by suspense? Those are the details that build you as a brand in my mind and make me think of you when I have a sexy lawyer novel and submit to you over Jane, Betsy or Amy.
Agents need to do the same. When we’re meeting authors at conferences or mingling at the airport bar we need to be able to tell the author specifically what we’re looking for. Sure I represent romance, but my true love is dark, gritty suspense or right now I’m just tired of anything involving a CEO bachelor.
Our brand is going to evolve and change a bit as the market changes. An author’s brand might do the same. Sure we’re all still looking for romance, but now we miss those CEO bachelors and might want more of them. So updating the brand on your website and through social media is important, but so is making yourself stand out by saying, once in a while, this is exactly what I want on my desk right now.