Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Helen Lacey & Looking for an Agent

Please welcome the lovely Helen Lacey back to the blog again. I've just finished reading Date with Destiny and it is awesome!! Grace and Cameron are terrific characters and the plot has lots of great twists and turns - a fabulous story!


What to look for in an agent….
Thank you for having me here today.

It’s a little mind boggling how much publishing is evolving into different platforms and opportunities at the moment. Five years ago, even two years ago the landscape looked very different. Go five years further back again and the big print publishing houses had a grip on what books got into reader’s hands and only a few authors I knew had an agent. Thankfully that’s become something of an obsolete model and now authors have every opportunity to drive their career down several different paths.
Of course these changes, these opportunities, bring about more questions and one of the most common questions I get from other authors, both published and aspiring is “Do I need and agent and how do I get one…” . My answer is usually the same – it depends on you.

Let’s imagine that you've decided you do want an agent…remember the old WIFM acronym (What’s in It For Me). That’s important. What will having an agent mean for you? Will it mean instant publication with one of the big houses? Not necessarily. Will it mean a bidding war and a multi-book deal? Probably not. What it will mean, if you have the right agent, is you now have an advocate for your work and someone who believes in your book. That’s the optimum scenario, of course. I do know authors who have signed with an agent simply because they were offered representation, and not because this particular agent would have been the best ‘fit’ for them. My advice is always, do your research.
I signed with my agent before I was published. I had a book that had done well on the contest circuit and was with an editor and had been there for about a year. The day after I signed my agent made contact with the editor (who is actually now my editor at Harlequin) and a few months later I sold my first book after 23 yrs of submitting and eighteen rejections. So why this agent? There were a few things that felt ‘right’ with this agency when I was researching agents. Firstly, I wanted to work with a small agency and one that focuses on romance. I narrowed my list down to three and considered my options. Then I spent a month or so following their blogs/websites and also researched who they represented. When I saw my agent was judging a contest I entered and from there got a request for the full manuscript and then an offer for representation. There were things more important to me than just signing with a big agency – I wanted to be with someone who understood the changing face of the publishing industry and knew the romance genre.

So, do your homework…don’t sign with an agency simply because they ‘offer’ you representation. You are the creative arm of the author/agent relationship and you should be with an agency that encourages your creativity and truly believes in your stories.
To celebrate the release of my August Harlequin Special Edition Date With Destiny, I have a copy to give away to one commenter.


Helen Lacey grew up reading Black Beauty, Anne of Green Gables and Little House on The Prairie. These childhood classics inspired her to write her first book when she was seven years old, a story about a girl and her horse. Although, it wasn’t until the age of eleven when she read her first Mills & Boon, that she knew writing romances was what she wanted to do with her life. Her parents’ love of travel meant she saw much of the world in those early years and she feels fortunate to have had a diverse and interesting education over several continents.

She continued to write into her teens and twenties with the dream of one day being a published author. A few years and careers later, including motel operator, florist, strapper, dog washer, and retail manager, she got the call from Harlequin Special Edition. She loves writing about tortured heroes, both cowboys and CEO’s, and heroines who finally get the love of the man of their dreams. She now works part time in her sister’s bridal shop, where she gets to meet fascinating people, some of whom might one day end up being in one of her books.

From Welsh parents and a large family, she lives on the east coast of Australia in a small seaside town at the southern most point of The Great Barrier Reef, with her wonderfully supportive husband, many horses and three spoiled dogs.

Connect with Helen:

Website    Blog      Facebook    Twitter     Goodreads 

Financier Grace Preston did fourteen-hour days in New York City. She didn't do small towns in Australia. Not since she'd fled almost twenty years ago. But when a personal trauma sent her home-with a secret she couldn't reveal-the last person she needed was her first love.

Local cop Cameron Jakowski had loved Grace for most of his life. But he wanted marriage and family and she didn't. He was small town, while she was big city-and lived half a world away. But for now she was right here-a walking, talking temptation. One he managed to avoid...until he made one mistake. He kissed her. And reawakened the passion that could change their lives...forever.

Read Reviews

Buy Links
Mills & Boon UK     Harlequin US     Amazon     Amazon UK

B&N     Powell's Books     BAM      indieBound

Link to Trailer

Good advice, Helen! Anything to add  to her list for agent shopping?

(I'll be out of town when this posts with spotty/non-existent internet coverage so I'll catch up when I'm back!)


  1. Yep, doing the homework is soooo important, and it saves a lot of time down the track too. Great post!

  2. I have been told it's much harder to get an agent than a publisher. The wrong agent would be a detriment.
    Lovely reading more of you Helen. My followers loved your post on early readers.
    Hi Jemi!

  3. It is great that we have multiple paths open to us now. I feel the agent/so-called 'traditional' path is the best for me, but it's not right for everyone. Best of luck with your book!

  4. Thanks for the tips. I agree that it's important to do your research and find an agent that fits with you, not just get an agent because they offer representation.

  5. Great informative post Helen. I always thought that going straight to Publishers was easier but you made me change my mind.

    Thanks Jemi.

  6. Hi Lynda - you're right, taking the time in the beginning can save time down the line :)

  7. Hi Denise - I think the thing that's the most important is having an agent who is a advocate for your work. And I loved visiting your blog! Thanks for having me :)

  8. Hi JeffO - Yes, absolutely - everyone's path is different. Good luck with the path you choose :)

  9. Hi Natalie - yes, being with an agent who believes in you is paramount. Thanks for dropping by.

  10. I imagine working with a smaller agency is like working with a smaller publisher - they care more and work harder for you. I'd rather be with the right agent as well.

  11. Hi Nas - I guess the thing to remember is there are many roads to publication and having an agent is often the pathway on that road. Thanks for dropping by.

  12. Great advice, Helen. Publishing has changed so much that it's hard to know which way to jump these days.

  13. Great advice. The size of the agency doesn't really matter very much, if the agent has established contacts with editors in the genre we write.

  14. Such good advice! I've felt like my agent/author relationship has been a good fit because of how invested she is in my book. Also, all her notes take the book in the direction I envisioned in my head and sometimes can't quite get out on paper.

  15. It clearly pays to do ones homework - great advice indeed.

    All the best, Helen. Love the trailer!

    Hi, Jemi :)

  16. Hi Jemi, hi Helen. Helen, your book was a great read. I really enjoyed it.

  17. Nicely told. It's hard work no matter what, but it pays off. Congratulations.

  18. Sounds like a terrific book. Good luck with it!

    Thanks for the great tips for anyone looking for an agent. There's probably a "good fit" agent out there for me, too, but I got tired of looking for her. I'm kinda on the oldish side for someone putting out a first book, so time isn't exactly on my side. I decided to self-publish, and so far, have no regrets.

  19. Helen - thanks so much for this great post!! Nice to have you here again! :)

    Lynda - so true!

    Denise - Hi!! I've heard the same thing :)

    Jeff - those multiple paths are one of the best parts of writing these days :)

    Natalie - agreed! Research is sooo important!

    Nas - Helen's got some great points!

    Alex - I agree - there are lots of similarities!

    Suzi - so true! There are lots of choices to make!

    Elizabeth - yes! Those contacts are so important!

    Johanna - sounds like the perfect partnership - awesome! :)

    Wendy - me too - it's great!

    Maria - me too - such geat characters!!

    Lee - there's no substitute for hard work!

    Susan - that's so true - finding that perfect fit can be a long search!

  20. It would be lovely to choose the agent you want. Unfortunately, since 98% of queriers are rejected, that's not usually an option.

    Good luck on your book - the cover's beautiful and it sound's like a fun read. :-)

  21. Lexa - so true! There are so many factors that go into that 'yes'. And it's a great book!! :)

  22. great advice, Helen, and I love the book cover!

  23. Dezzy - me too - it's very well done :)

  24. What an excellent post! I agree (from experience) that it is very important to do your homework if you want an agent that is right for you. I have a wonderful agent now, but I did learn that lesson the hard way with someone who wasn't the right fit. I liked hearing about how you found an agent and editor! Thanks for sharing and best of luck Helen! :)

  25. Jess - I'm glad you've found the right person now Jess! It really is an important fit!

  26. You bring up excellent points on agents and what to look for when querying and choosing one.

  27. Medeia - I agree - great advice :)