Yesterday we talked about writing a successful query letter. Today we are going to discuss how to find the right agent for those query letters. I know you might be saying, “Just give me an agent, any agent and I’ll be happy.” Well, be careful what you wish for, you might get it and it might not be pretty.
It is important to do your homework and learn everything you can about the agents you are considering. What good is sending an agent a query if they would never be interested in the type of book or writing you do? What good would it do you to have an agent who makes you feel uncomfortable? Make list of agents and narrow it down.
Here are my homework suggestions for finding the right Agent:
1. When you read a novel you like and you can see similarity to what you are writing, look in the back of the book to see if the author thanked their agent or editor. Write down the names.
2. Visit Literary Agency’s websites and look at the bios of the agents. They list the genres each agent is looking for and their likes and dislikes. Add the names of the ones that fit what you are writing to your list. Cross off the ones that don’t fit.
3. Many agents are on Twitter – Follow them. You can find out little things about them to clue you in on their personality and things they like. Occasionally, they will say something about what they would like to receive. Here is the link to Galleycat. They have a list of agents on Twitter. Just understand that the information was posted in April of 2011, so some of the information has changed. Example: Mary Kole is no longer at Andrea Brown and John Cusick is no longer at Scott Treimel NY. They both are still on Twitter.
4. Look for agent and editor blogs and follow the ones on your list.
5. Keep your eyes open for blogs that write about the publishing industry. Check out your favorite author blogs, too. Keep your list on your desk and write down important information as you find it.
6. Check out conferences and workshops, even the ones that you do not expect to attend. They list the agents attending and give you information about each one. So what if you don’t attend, you have increased you knowledge of the movers and the shakers in the industry. Sign-up for a few each year, where the agents on your list are on the faculty.
Why is it important to attend a few conferences or workshop each year? ANSWER: It lets you see the agent in person and get a feel for what they are like. Are they snarky, soft spoken, friendly, not friendly, sound like they know the industry or not? An agent may look good on paper, but meeting them in person will give you a better chance to know if you would get along with them.
NOTE: Not all conferences are equal. Do you homework in this area, too. Find out which ones actually help you mingle with the agents and editors. At the June New Jersey SCBWI conference, we encourage the faculty to mingle with the members. The editors have even helped introduce members to agents with a recommendation for the agent to take them on as a client.
7. Network. Talk to other writers and illustrators and pick their brains. Ask others about the agents on your list. Meet an editor at a conference? Work an agent question into the conversation. This will help you narrow your list down and you never know where the networking will end up.
8. Read Publisher’s Lunch it’s free, but if you are interested in sales and contracts, pay for access to the full version of Publisher’s Marketplace. If you are part of a Writer’s Group, you could share the costs. Lots of valuable information about how successful the agent you are considering is with books deals. Of course, don’t stick your nose up at a new agent. You might have a better chance getting your foot in the door with them and they could be the next big agent in the industry.
Of course, it is always a leap of faith when choosing someone to work with, but if you do the above you will increase you chances of success. If you have any other good ideas to add, please send so we can all benefit.