Here it goes (in no particular order of importance):
1. Ability to sell your book.
It's no secret that anyone who wants to can call themselves an agent. You can't get a degree in it or a certification. Even so, your agent should still be a professional, a business person, if you will. The kind of person you'd expect to meet on a job interview. Suzie, of course, is a consummate professional. Our initial phone call was friendly but with formal overtones. She was well-spoken and organized. And I know she employs this same professionalism when dealing with editors. Remember, your agent is representing your work. It's a little bit like entrusting them to go on a job interview on your behalf. Pretty important, right? But I never had a single worry with Suzie.
3. Passion for Books
Your agent should love books and love to read. Because they're going to do have to do this, a lot. Suzie is crazy-insane reader. She can get through a client manuscript in two hours! How amazing is that? She also understands stories, what makes them work, what doesn't. She's an editorial agent, which I prefer and wouldn't trade for anything.
Your agent should respond to your questions and submitted material within a reasonable timeframe. Suzie always responds to my emails quickly. She responds even when I tell her to take her time, like when I'm a needy, pathetic writer who emails her on a Friday and asks her not to worry about responding until the weekend is over.
5. Career focus
Your agent isn't just signing your current novel; they're signing you. One of the first things Suzie asked me is what I'm working now/next. I knew right away that she had ever intention of representing my future works as well as The Nightmare Affair. And if I ever doubted about my career in her hands, the latest and exciting happenings at New Leaf Literary & Media put them firmly to rest. Check out the details here.
Mindee Arnett is the debut author of The Nightmare Affair, a YA contempory fantasy coming March 2013 from Tor Teen (Macmillan), and Finding Eden, a YA sci-fi thriller coming 2014 from Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins). She lives on a horse farm in Ohio with her husband, two kids, a couple of dogs, and an inappropriate number of cats. She’s addicted to jumping horses and telling tales of magic, the macabre, and outerspace. She blogs and tweets, and is hard at work on her next novel in the Arkwell Academy series. Find her online at MindeeArnett.com.