The past year or so, I've thought a lot about the relationship between writers and their agents. Never working with an agent for my non-fiction books, I've reconsidered for children's fiction.
The publishing world is changing daily and I've recognized the need for a professional in my corner. This person/agency is different from family, friends, and other writers who often refrain from tough comments on your work.
As they say in the South, they don't have a horse in that race (i.e. your publishing success). Your agent does. Your success is key to their success.
So, it's time for me to kick start my efforts to find the right agent who will nag, help me grow, praise, edit, cut, advise, redirect, nag some more and commit for the long haul. For my part, I will work on my craft, read, get better at marketing, and follow his/her advice. Wish me luck!