As I am walking through this difficult, oops typo, lovely querying process where I am laying my heart on the line and praying it does not get trampled (or worse, left lying there completely ignored with no closure), I figured I would share my experiences, tips, and tricks with any hopeful authors out there! So today, let’s talk about agents.
Do You Need An Agent?
Yes. If you are looking for traditional publishing with the majority of traditional publishing houses. It is extremely rare, in my experience, for publishing houses to welcome unsolicited manuscripts. In other words, publishing houses have become so overwhelmed with new authors that they needed a way to weed through the submissions so that they are only looking at the best of the best. At the most basic level, an agent basically backs your claim and tells the publishing house “yes, this is a good book, you should read it.”
How Do I Find An Agent?
Not all agents are created equal; just as all writers are unique in their own respects. You cannot and should not just mass query dozens of agents hoping that one sticks without doing your research FIRST. Yes, you heard me, research! Many agents have specific requirements for what they are searching for, how to query them, and whether or not they are even accepting queries at the time. If you just find a random listing of agents and hit mass send, your odds of success are nearly zero. (I only say nearly, because, hey, people win the lottery every day).
Here are some steps:
- Start by identifying which agents match your books’ needs. Search reputable lists such as: Poets & Writers (which I found recommended from a publishing house I would love to partner with one day). There is also Publisher’s Marketplace & Query Tracker (although it does cost to get all of the benefits of these sites). Of the two, I have found Publisher’s Marketplace to be more user-friendly and filled with great information! Publisher’s Marketplace tends to work better when you have a specific agent in mind that you want more information on. Literary Rambles has some excellent interviews with agents, what they’re looking for, and how to submit! I love that I can “hear” from so many agents about what they are personally looking for.
- With every agent, search for key words that match your book (for example, I searched for Young Adult, Fantasy, Fiction). Immediately that took my search from hundreds of agents to dozens. Then I began reading more about the agents to see what type of fiction they were interested in by reading their bios and looking up books they had previously helped the authors get published.
- Once you narrow it down, read the agent’s query instructions CAREFULLY. Many agents will bluntly tell you that if you do not follow their instructions, your query will be tossed. Some agents may be on a temporary pause in receiving queries, and once again, straight into the trash your query goes. I know it’s exciting to send your work out into the world, but go slowly, do it correctly, or you may throw away the perfect opportunity.
Questions about finding an agent that’s right for you? Comment below!
Happy Writing Everyone!
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