And so it begins. The search for a literary agent. The person that can help forge you a path in publishing. The person who can make all of your dreams come true! The person who will be your own personal genie in a lamp, ready to grant your wishes. Right?
Well, maybe. But it’s much more complicated than that.
Many un-agented authors may see landing an agent like they’ve won big on a slot machine but really, it’s not.
Publishing is a business. Agenting is a business. A for-profit business. And being an author, well that’s a business too. Which is why you need to do your homework. Research well. And make a smart, educated decision when it comes to which agents to submit to. I’ll be blogging more about this in the coming weeks (so make sure you’ve subscribed if you haven’t already), but today we’re just talking literary agent research.
If you’re just beginning the search for an agent now, be sure to read my post The Secret To Getting An Agent & Getting Your Work Published. There’s some invaluable information, truth, and I share some of my personal experiences on my path to publication.
Now that you are ready to publish your work and you’ve decided to forego the self-published r0ute, here are some of the several ways you can find a literary agent. Next week, well be talking how to make sure that a literary agent is right for you.
How to Find a Literary Agent
1. The internet is your friend! Use sites like AgentQuery.com or QueryTracker.com. Query Tracker requires you to have a login, but the membership is free. On both sites you can search agents by their names or by the genres that they represent. Usually these sites are up to date, but every once in a while I notice that something isn’t correct (such as an agent recently moved agencies is still listed under an old agency, etc.). Just double check your sources before you fire off that query letter. These sites are VERY helpful and I highly recommend looking through them to find and create your list of who to submit to. QueryTracker even has a comments section where other hopefuls can post about their experience with that agent and response time so that you can have a better idea of what to expect.
2. Go straight to the source. Most agencies have a website. Go to that website! Look at the “About us” section. Normally you can learn more about the agency, the agents, and what they’re looking for. Normally under the submission tab you can double check the agency’s submission guidelines, such as whether to include only your query letter or add a few sample pages. You can also find most agents on Twitter, where you can get more information on what they are looking for straight from the source. But please do yourself a favor and do not pitch straight to the agent on Twitter (unless the agent is running some type of contest and asks you to).
3. Contests! I admit, it’s not exactly traditional but more and more authors and agents are finding each other via contests. There are several agent contests around the web. To find them, you can merely ask Google. A fantastic resource for these is Brenda Drake, so follow her on Twitter. Amy Trueblood is co-hosting Sun vs. Snow, another pitch contest. I suggest you also look into #PitMad and #PitchMas, as both are fantastic agent pitch contests. Also, Carissa Taylor is amazing and made a solid list of upcoming online and Twitter contests. Check those out and mark your calendars!
4. Conferences. There are some fabulous conferences to attend that have valuable workshops to not only hone your skills but also Agent Pitch segments where you have the opportunity to get face time with an agents and pitch your book. You can look up conferences in your area just by Googling key words like “Writing conference” and your state. One of the most popular conferences for children’s authors (including picture books, middle grade, and young adult) is SCBWI. It’s an international conference in Los Angeles, CA and features a ton of agents and editors. You can spy the 2014 schedule here.
Are you looking for an agent? Did you recently get one? I’d love to hear details of how it’s going in the comments below. What is your favorite agent resource?
Keep calm and query on,