Agents and What Happens after You Write Your Book

- by ria, on Wednesday, 22nd September 2010, 12:06pm
Finding an Agent

The first thing to do when looking for an agent is to find a list of agents who are interested in your genre. AgentQuery is a database with useful (if not entirely accurate) information on a large number of agents. Go through the list of agents and verify (by visiting their site) that they do, actually, represent your genre. I found that when I visited the agents’ websites, they did not mention my genre, even though AgentQuery said they did. While you might get lucky and get picked up by an agent who doesn’t handle your genre, your query letter and first few pages would need to be outstanding.

Making a List

I am an organised person, and I like to make lists. They help keep everything straight. If you are the kind of person who can keep track of large amounts of information in your head, feel free to skip the list, and do this mentally. Did I mention this list has many columns? My agent tracking spreadsheet has ten (preference, name, agency, genre, authors, email address, submission guidelines, reliable, date queried, reply (no / partial / full)). The most important parts of this list are name and email (obviously) submission guidelines and date queried. Their reply is important too, it means you are not re-querying agents who rejected a full or partial.

The other columns are less important, but I will explain them anyway.

* Preference is the agent I want to work with most. It goes 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.
* Agency is the agency the agent is part of.
* Genre is the genres they deal with (your genre should be here).
* Authors is for writers I like that are represented by the agency. (I think this is a good way to find an agency that will suit you. You like the authors for a reason, and your book is going to be a little bit like theirs (it can’t not be). And you know the agent likes the kind of books you like.)
* Reliable is to let me know if an agent is legitimate or not, and how other people who queried them got on (as in, are they professional, do they focus solely on agenting or is there another job eating into their schedule).

Go through the agents on AgentQuery and make out your own list. You’ll probably need to trawl though their website to find all the information (some agency websites are appalling). Also, Predators and Editors is good for reliability. Ideally, you want someone who is with the Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR). QueryTracker is also good for seeing how long it takes an agent to reply, but I haven’t used the site that much (you have to register).

Once that’s done, you figure out who you want to query first from your list and send off your letter / email. Good Luck.

On a Personal Note

I drafted my query letter yesterday, and was thinking about it this morning. Not the letter itself, but what I will do with it. I will send it off to an agent who will ask for pages from my novel. This dream of mine suddenly feels real. Yes, I’ve been working on this book on and off for the last four years, but until now it has seemed like something I’m doing just to pass the time. Yes, I’ve dreamed of getting published, of being a best seller. But it never felt real. Now that I have my query done, it suddenly does.

It’s a bit scary, and exciting at the same time. Fear of the unknown is a crippling thing. I have no idea what will happen if an agent likes my book. I think I’m more scared of that than getting rejected. Rejection I can handle, but I’ve always been wary of winning. I don’t know how to act, how to comport myself when that happens. I guess it all comes down to confidence. Do I think my book is good enough? I did when I finished draft 3, but now I’m not so sure. It takes a lot of bravery to send a query and there are many ways to procrastinate.

If you are in my position, leave a comment and we can encourage each other.

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category: publishing

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